Build a small business empire you can be proud of

Social Media Posts

About this category:

Social media may be a relatively new phenomenon but its underpinnings are not – human beings are social creatures and our relationships help define who we are. Social media simply makes it easier to connect with a lot of people quickly. The posts in this category discuss how you can use social media to improve your business.

1 Comment

How to Auto-Tweet Posts from an RSS Feed and Tag Someone

There used to be a ton of auto-tweet services that would let you tweet out your friends’ RSS feeds for free. One by one, they died.

In looking for a new solution, I stumbled upon this hacky way of doing it. Basically, you go to IFTTT to watch an RSS feed and then submit it to your Buffer queue. Buffer than automatically tweets from your queue.

Why is Buffer necessary when IFTTT can autotweet something?

Twitter’s TOS states that you can’t use an autotweeting tool and tag people at the same time. I want to tag people, so this is the solution.

  1. Get the RSS feed you want to auto-tweet.
  2. Make sure you have a Buffer account, the free one is fine.
  3. Go to and link up your Buffer account.
  4. Go to create a new Applet.
  5. Select a trigger (THIS) from the Feed category, New feed item.
  6. Select an action service of Buffer, Add to Buffer
  7. I like to add something like “New post” to the front and then tag the original author.
  8. Done!

If you want something to auto-tweet, might I suggest this feed:

I’m @wallethacks on Twitter too.


be first!

How to Spot a Fake Facebook Profile

Last week, I wrote about how creating and nurturing a Facebook Group has helped build a community around my scotch blog. What I didn’t tell you was that we also created one for a recent project, $5 Meal Plan. Briefly, $5 Meal Plan is a partnership between Erin Chase and myself and it’s a weekly service where we send you a delicious, affordable, and easy meal plan and shopping list.

One of the biggest features of the service is a closed Facebook Group where members can discuss the meal plans, share ideas about cooking, and otherwise have a place they can go and find a supportive group they can learn and grow with. The group is nearing 4,000 members as of this writing and is less than a month old.

The members are great. The conversations are extremely helpful, insightful, and it is just as valuable and helpful as the weekly meal plans themselves.

It’s incredible.

It’s also gotten to a size where spammers are attacking.

For those doing the math at home, four thousand members in three weeks means we’ve been adding nearly 200 people a day. Sometimes a few bad actors slip through, especially when you can’t analyze each and every request.

Take this for example:

Are These Real People?

Are These Real People?

Two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have thought anything of adding “Helen Shoaf.”

Today, I’m 99.9% sure it’s a spam profile account. Less than a month old and a member of over 40 groups – that’s not typical.

I loaded up her profile, click the image to get a larger version of it.
Who is "Helen?"

Does that seem real? The sniff test says… no. But I’ve only been doing this for three weeks (for this group), so how good is my intuition? (As Malcolm Gladwell would say, thin slicing is a good technique if you’re an expert)

I wanted something more concrete.

Something we can give to an assistant who knows nothing about social media and he or she can use it to spot these fakes. So after thousands of reviews, I’ve come up with a pretty solid system.

How to Spot a Fake Facebook Profile

The key is to find inconsistencies.

In the above example, the biggest one is at the top – “Do you know Helen? To see what he shares with friends, send him a friend request.”

Helen is most often a female name and she looks more like a she. This does not compute and would be reason enough for me to ignore the request.

To be 100% sure, I’m going to do a test that I consider the clincher. Take her photo and do a search in Google Images, see if it’s used for other profiles. To do this, load up Google Images and just drag the image into the search entry bar, Google will do a search.
Google Image Search Results

Now we see that the photo is used as the profile picture of several fake Facebook profiles.

Helen Shoaf is clearly fake. Don’t add her.

Funny enough, Helen Nordin is probably the real one. Not a great speller but it does say her current occupation, her former high school, as well as other details that a spammer isn’t going to fill out.

Here are some quantitative things we can see as markers of a fake profile:

  • Is less than a year old
  • Is a member of a lot of groups (often 40+), many of which are unrelated and in different languages.
  • Very few profile details, very few friends if any
  • Inconsistencies in the profile (photo of a male, profile says female)
  • The image search outlined above
  • Added by another member – 99.99999% of requests are made by the person to be added, so in our case an add by another member is a red flag

If a profile raises several of those red flags, scrutinize their profile and go with your gut.

Finally, even if you let them in and they start spamming, Facebook’s filtering is usually good enough that not every member will see it. You’ll see it, as an admin, and you can quickly delete and ban the user. We had a stretch where a bunch of fake profiles, each had the photo of a chef on it, each spamming the group with a link to a blogspot account.

When we discovered it, we just deleted the spam, banned the account, and searched for other profiles that matched that look and feel. It was pretty easy to spot and thus not difficult to fix. That said, it’s always nicer to catch it before it happens!


Why You Should Be Using Facebook Groups

Credit: mkhmarketing

Credit: mkhmarketing

If you were expecting a podcast today, as we normally release them on a Monday, I had a bit of a technical challenge this past week. Skype, which is how I record episodes, required me an update but the new version was incompatible with my ten year old Mac! So I had to update my Mac OS, but the next version had to be mailed to me (it was that old!) … and that took a week so I didn’t get a chance to do any of the recordings. We are unfortunately missing this week’s episode. 🙁

Instead, I wanted to share a new idea I’ve been trying out – building a community with Facebook Groups.

In the first episode of the Microblogger Podcast, which featured the inimitable JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly, we briefly discussed the effects a forum had on his site.

JD shared that the forums were great but it split up his community – those who would read the blog and comment and those who would just go to the forums.

He had a vibrant community within his comments section, one that anyone would be envious of, but he was a rare exception. Most blogs don’t have a huge community of committed readers. Most have a small core followed by a more transient group that might sign up for an email but are unlikely to comment or otherwise engage.

How do you draw those people out? You don’t force the conversation on your site, you go to where they are already spending a ton of time – Facebook.

Why I Use Facebook Groups

My Scotch Blog gets about a thousand visits a day, the bulk of which comes through search. Search traffic is the most transient of traffic sources!

I was getting a handful of comments each day, as well as a handful of email subscribers, and things were good. Even with a thousand visits a day, there was no sense of community. You saw a lot of single comments, no subscriptions to replies, and it was like a bulletin board, not a discussion board.

So I thought I’d do something a little different, at least to me, I created a Scotch Addict Facebook Group and began promoting it within the emails. If you wanted to sign up for a Scotch Addict email list, chances are you’d want to connect with other aficionados.

As I write this, the group has nearly 150 members (comparatively, the email list is close to a thousand) and it’s a great little community with a ton of fun conversations. One nice benefit is that on Facebook everyone has a photo, so you start to recognize familiar faces and it’s a much better connection than email or comments.

Advantages of Groups

These are advantages above and beyond what I mentioned earlier…

Facebook Groups are better than forums. Don’t force your users to register for something else and don’t force them to go somewhere else, the two things you’re asking them to do when you create forums.

They’re already on Facebook, take advantage of it and your group will grow much faster than your forums would ever stand a chance of doing.

You don’t have the manage the technical aspects. Ask anyone who has run forums and it can be a technical pain. Installation, integration, upgrading, etc. No one has time for that anymore.

Lowers your hosting fees too. If your site is extremely popular, having some of the conversation elsewhere might save you a few dollars too.

Disadvantages of Groups

It’s always risky to rely on a third party. Facebook, like anyone else, can change their rules. They might blow up your group, on purpose or by accident. You don’t have total control and that is always a risk.

Spam spam spam. There are a ton of fake Facebook profiles looking to spam the crap out of your group, especially if it gets large. I’m not sure what Facebook does in response but I do know that we have to be vigilant. A future post will address how to spot a fake Facebook profile.

You don’t get the long tail search benefit. If you had forums, that’s a lot of long tail search traffic you could be getting… but in the post-Panda world, I’m not sure a smaller site with a forum could even get long tail traffic consistently anymore. Ten years ago, I’d say a forum on Bargaineering stood a chance at long tail traffic, today it’d be unlikely.

There’s always the risk of what happened with JD – fans join the group and start to forget about your site. To mitigate this, I’d say that you can always use the group to promote your post but I’d do so sparingly… no need to pummel them with content. 🙂

Do you use Facebook Groups? If so, any lessons you’ve learned that might help others?

1 Comment

What To Do If Facebook Won’t Load a Preview

Credit: melenita

Credit: melenita

We all know that sharing your content on social media, whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest or some other to be named network, is absolutely crucial. If you listened to Podcast Episode #28 with Taylor Flanery (she got 125,000 Facebook Fans in 2 months without paying a penny, her page is up to nearly 400,000 likes), you know how important all those fans are to her business.

One of her best pieces of advice for Facebook was to make and share a compelling image that included the title of your post and your blog’s URL. To do that, I recommend using a tool like Photoshop or Pic Monkey.

Today’s post solves a problem I run into from time to time.

When you share a post on Facebook, it’s supposed to pull in a prominent image, the title, as well as some introductory text. For whatever reason, it breaks sometimes. Sometimes it doesn’t load anything and the Preview area looks broken.

How do you fix it?

Very easy, just go to the Facebook Developer debugger page and have it “debug” your page. (you can also search in Google for “facebook debug” and it’ll return the page first)

If all is well, this will reset your page within their cache. The next time you try to post the page, it’ll pull in the proper preview.

If all is not well, this page will tell you what’s wrong. If you put in a bad URL, it’ll return a 404 error and tell you that you need to fix the page. If there’s some other problem, like certain fields are missing or malformed, it’ll tell you and you can fix it.

That’s it – now Facebook will pull in the proper image, title, and introductory text. A quick little fix to a vexing problem.

be first!

How to Set a Vanity URL for a Facebook Group, Page, or User

Credit: melenita

Credit: melenita

Facebook is everywhere.

I’ve been working on a new project, one I hope to be able to share with you once it launches, and one of the recent decisions we’ve had to make involved Facebook.

The new project is a membership site and I had installed forum software (bbPress, because it plays well with WordPress) but found it to be a little clunky. I also found that people were using it but they weren’t using it as much as I’d like. (and users were complaining that it just wasn’t very user friendly… which is 90% my fault)

So we made the decision to start using a closed Facebook Group instead to increase engagement. The one thing that’s nice about Facebook is that everyone is using it. The not nice thing is that out of the box, telling someone the URL of a page you created is miserable.

Fortunately, there’s a way for you to create a vanity URL for the three pages most important to a user – their profile/timeline, a fan page, and a group.

Here’s how:

Claim a URL for your User page or Fan page

This is dead simple – click this link to access

Use this page to set your username for your profile page or Fan Pages if you are the administrator.

Be careful what you pick for your Facebook web address because you can only ever change it once after it’s been set.

Claim a URL for Your Facebook Group

Did you just create a Facebook group?

Not a fan of the URL?

(by default, it’s something ugly like

You can change it. (I don’t know why they don’t let you change it in the same form as Pages and Usernames but they don’t!)

To claim a vanity URL for a Facebook Group, go to your Facebook group and look for the wheel/gears icon near the top:

And click on Edit Group Settings.

On the Group Setting page, look for a Set Up Group Address button:

Click it and enter the vanity URL you want. Be careful what you pick because you won’t be able to change it after this pop-up. This will create a distribution list email (so you can email everyone at once) and a vanity URL.

There you have it, how to create a vanity URL for a Facebook group, profile, or fan page.