Fun Facebook Tricks and a Halloween Treat

Welcome to Techie Tuesday here at More Cowbell! This is the day each week when I unleash my inner geek and we talk about some groovy piece of technology or a technical point of writing.

Today, we’re delving into Facebook with some fun facts and figures.

I picked the best FB person I could find as an early Halloween gift for all of you. Lisa did a post on Kristen Lamb’s blog last week* that really got me thinking about how I use Facebook. See I’m a Twitter girl at heart, but she’s trying to convince me to come over to the dark side.

[Actually she tied Kristen up and took the place over last week, but I’m on to her. I laid out a path of Halloween candy for her to follow to get here and I’ve got my Cowbell ready if she gets too feisty with all this Facebook business.]


Thanks for letting me unleash my inner Facebook geek here on Techie Tuesday 🙂 I’m a huge fan of Facebook and I hang out there a lot. Probably too much. But I am paid for some of the time I spend there so I can usually find a way to rationalize my addiction.

I wanted to dig up a couple of fun tricks to geek out your Facebook fans here at More Cowbell.

Facebook now allows emoticons.

These have been available on the chat feature for a while, but were recently enabled on comments. I haven’t had any luck getting these to work on a status update, but they do work with comments.

Here’s the complete list, and the photo gives the corresponding emoticon all in order (there are other lists around involving strings of numbers, but I’ve not been able to get them to work). If you find this confusing, this website lists out each emoticon.

: )  😀  >: o : o : ( ; )  :’ (  :* :p 😡  :3 ^_^  -_- O:) 3:) :v  : |] 8) 8| :/ O.o  :42: <(“)  (^^^)  :putnam: (y) ❤

I’ve been having lots of fun with the angel and shark.

Insights Helper

In line with Jenny’s Techie Tuesday post last week, I thought I’d share a fun resource to help you interpret and read those loooong excel sheets Facebook spits out for your page insights. Insights are what FB calls the stats they collect from your page concerning fan engagement, reach, etc. at post level.

Jon Loomer created the Insights Helper that he’s giving away for free. This is a simple excel sheet that he’s programmed to extract the relevant data and plugs it into attractive graphs that are easy to read and interpret.

This is a really useful tool and the data is helpful in spotting trends that impact your page. Here’s the updated version of Insights Helper which gives you the option to include promoted posts and fixes a few bugs in the first version.

A fun and free diagnostic tool is

The free version will give you interesting data based on your edgerank including a score, average post lifetime, fan growth, day of the week you get the most/least new fans, etc.

I’m a little bummed that this tool doesn’t work if you are running any kind of Like campaign, sponsored stories or promoted posts. I’ve never bought the pro version, but have found the free version a fun diagnostic tool if delving into your insights data seems overwhelming.

Finally, I thought I’d share this little bit of info after Jenny made the comment below on a guest post I did on Kristen Lamb’s blog last week.

I find it very annoying when people cross-post to FB from Twitter (as a general observation). People post on Twitter a lot more often than they post on Facebook and clutter up newsfeeds.

Repeating the same tweet is acceptable on Twitter if the tweets are appropriately spread out, but repeating yourself on Facebook will get your posts hidden from newsfeeds.

I have a statistic to back up that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Auto-posting to Facebook decreases likes and comments by 70% (source here). For me, knowing that someone is cross-posting is advertising that you’re not even on FB, so there’s no point in trying to start a conversation.

For the record though, I’m a big fan of Jenny’s “happy” and think she should hang out on Facebook way more often. 🙂

Hope you found some of that useful. I’m going to turn the place back over to Jenny before she shakes that cowbell at me.


This is Jenny. I found it ALL useful!

I hope you will show Lisa some comment love, because today we are going to do something different with today’s comments. One lucky commenter will get a free Facebook page or profile critique from Lisa for FREE. (This is a $50 y’all!)

You’ll get at least two pages of helpful advice on how to better utilize Facebook to build your platform.  Also, since y’all are soooo full of Cowbell today, if you sign up for Lisa’s class Own Your Own Stage—Using Facebook for Author/Artist Branding and enter in the code WANAFB, you’ll get $30 off Lisa’s class.

That’s SIX WEEKS of WANA International Awesomeness for only $99. Kristen did the math on this one (better her than me) and that is only $16.50 a week, $2.36 a DAY for $0.68 an hourI can’t even get coffee for $0.68 an hour.

Which social media platform do you like best? Do you have questions for Lisa? Let it all hang out in the comments, y’all! ~ Jenny

About Lisa

Lisa writes dark fantasy novels that honestly face harsh struggles, where life is gritty and messy, and change how a character thinks, acts — who they are.

In addition to fiction writing, Lisa is a freelance writer published across Canada specializing in marketing copy for faith-based non-profits, and short non-fiction pieces for magazines and newspapers. She specializes in interviews, profiles, and social justice initiatives. Lisa is passionate about making this world a better place one get-off-your-butt-and-do-something article at a time.

Lisa has won awards at the Canadian Church Press, the Canadian Christian Writing Awards, and her co-written blog (with Marcy Kennedy) was nominated 3 times at the 2011 Canadian Weblog Awards. Check out Lisa’s freelance portfolio here  or learn more about Lisa Wilson Communications here. You can also find her Blogging Through The Fire each week.

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
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51 Responses to Fun Facebook Tricks and a Halloween Treat

  1. LauraDrake says:

    Lisa, I so loved your post er – with – Kristen last week!! SO clever! Thanks for the info, both of you, and Jenny, you had me at the shark. Awesome.


  2. Lisa! I lurved your post.

    Ugh! Don’t talk about my FB page unless you know a way to change the name! Mine is currently:

    RASJacobson’s “Lessons From Teachers & Twits”

    When I started out, you couldn’t have TWO pages, so I couldn’t create a second page. So now I’m stuck with the name of my former incarnation. I don’t know if I should deactivate it — as I NEVER do anything there anymore or keep it. It doesn’t seem like FB is even showing it to many of my “fans” there.

    And I am a teacher. I simply cannot “be there” all the time. It’s not possible. Social media is rough when you are expected to actually engage with people in real-life…and then grade their papers, too. I think I can’t sweat it. It’s there for now. And when I eventually have something to promote, I can start to engage again — not just sell, but beck e more active. But right now, it just feels impossible to do one more thing.

    Of course, I often feel that way during the academic year. 🙂 On e you have registered an FB page, no way to change it? Right?


    • If you have fewer than 100 fans FB now allows you to change the name on your page. You can unpublish your page which preserves everything but removes it from searches, etc. I believe you can change the username on the page any time if that helps (assuming you’ve got a unique one in mind). Managing a page does take time. I’m rarely on Twitter or any other platform and focus on FB. Marcy rocks Twitter, so we tend to team up an promote each other so it all evens out.


  3. Thanks SO much for having me, Jenny. Facebook really isn’t a bad place, Kristen is totally over-reacting 😛 See – no bungee cords OR cowbell required, I can behave myself.


  4. Jane Sadek says:

    Lisa – thanks for the news on emoticons. Now I just have to practice.

    And Jenny! Love having you over on the dark side. Facebook is my social media of choice and that’s where my friends hang out. The real ones! Glad you’re now a part of the scene.


  5. Julie Glover says:

    When it comes to Facebook, my cowbell is silent…or maybe just a little clink now and then. I’m TERRIBLE at keeping up my Facebook page. I find it overwhelming. I can get on and off Twitter within a few minutes and really interact, but the slower pace, longer updates, and vast number of posts to check out make Facebook a time-sucker for me. I need a better approach because I really do like the people on Facebook! I just don’t manage it well.

    I love the emoticons, though–especially Pacman. I didn’t know I needed that one, but I realize now that I do!


    • Come to the dark side. Not only do we have pacman emoticons – we have brownies too (brownies are so much better than cookies – just sayin) 🙂


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      It’s very true that I never see you over there. Which is OK, because others would say the same about me. Facebook is a huge time-suck. I try to log in for 10-15 mins a day and it usually turns into more like an hour. There are good games though. 🙂 <–See? Time suck!


  6. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Thanks for having Lisa guest post today, Jenny. I like Facebook way better than Twitter, but still I don’t get on it every day. Lisa’s class sounds like a must for me in the future. I just can’t handle one more thing on my plate at this time, but I need to give in and start an author page within the next six months. I haven’t tried using the emoticons yet. Lisa, thank you for sharing all this valuable info with us.

    Jenny, I hope you’re feeling better. Take care, girl.


  7. zkullis says:

    Jenny, thanks for the wonderful guest. Lisa, thank you for such a great post! The information you shared is extremely useful and relevant.

    This post deserves quite a bit of attention and serious reading. Thanks


  8. Stacy Green says:

    Great post – thank you guys. I need to use my author page more. So far it’s just (mostly) been links to my posts and news, and I can’t really figure out how to make it different.


    • It’s hard – links typically get the lowest engagement rates. Try mixing it up – post photos, questions, videos – then watch your insights and see what people are responding to.


  9. I will never learn all of these new tricks. Sometimes I feel like an old dog…


  10. I still like Facebook better than Twitter (probably because I’ve been using it for much longer), but there is so much to learn about both platforms that at times it feels overwhelming. 🙂 Tips like these are helpful, though the idea of watching my stats or using extra websites to look at them kinda makes my brain spin. Maybe I should take Lisa’s class!


    • It’s important to remember when you’re running a page that you’re building a brand – and the brand is you. Writers don’t like this idea, but really you’re building a business. Part of being successful as an entrepreneur is keeping track of what people are interested in hearing from you. Facebook is about connecting and building relationships – providing value.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You should absolutely take Lisa’s class, Koala Bear! And it’s on sale this week. 🙂


  11. I’ve been dragging my feet about getting an author page at Facebook, but Lisa, your post over at Kristen’s blog last week has me thinking I really need to do that. I just didn’t want to have to deal with two facebook places – I’m really trying to simplify my online life!


  12. Such a helpful post, Lisa! I am relatively new to the entire social media thing. I feel like it is soooo overwhelming – and to me Facebook almost seems like an afterthought. With so many other competing social mediums out there – it’s hard to pick just a few effective social marketing tools. Like Jenny – I tend to fly with the birds. 🙂 So glad you are feeling better, Jenny! Take care.


  13. angelapeart says:

    Cute emoticons – especially the shark and the devil, heh.

    Oh, the cross-posting us never a good idea. I cringe when I see post on Facebook with Twitter hashtags – couldn’t be more obvious that these are automated. Gah.

    Thank you for sharing Jon’s updated version of the spreadsheet – I’ll try to implement it for sure.

    Yay for Lisa! Her awesomeness in the FB field is legendary 🙂


  14. Jess Witkins says:

    Judging from the comments, I’m not alone in not knowing what to really do with my FB page, or maybe I gave a good idea – I’m just lacking the time. Twitter is quick and short, so it seems easier for me to manage that. And that’s where I’ve seen the most growth in followers. But FB can be really overwhelming. The peeps I love on there seem to be always sharing funny links, videos, images, and status updates. I can’t keep up. And I guess I’m confused as to how – since I just have my FB page that I started in college. I’m not ready to submit to publishing yet, so it didn’t make sense to me to start an author page I knew I couldn’t keep up with.

    Lisa, I need your help! I love your tips above – and plan on implementing the penguin emoticon as soon as possible! LOL. But seriously, I’d love advice on how to be more engaging with my FB posts.

    Jenny, thanks for showcasing Lisa’s mad talentz for FB!


  15. Diana Beebe says:

    I’m on FB, but it’s a personal page and mostly secured–I just got on in April. I haven’t even ventured into making a separate professional page yet. To say I’ve been resistant to social media is an understatement. 🙂 Thanks for the tips!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I don’t even know what exactly it means for you to have a page that’s “mostly secured.” But I’m sure Lisa can tell me. 🙂


      • Diana Beebe says:

        I set who can see which posts, so that everything on my timeline isn’t visible for the world to see. If someone posts a message to me there, I’m the only one who can see it unless I change that setting (at least until FB changes their setup again).


  16. Sharla Rae says:

    I’m on Facbook and I’ve thought about creating an author’s page but chickened out. I’m so not a Techie.


  17. I have absolutely no idea what you’ve said in this entire blog, although, unlike my husband, I do know what an emoticon is. I have no idea how to get one on to a FB post even after reading your blog.

    I still haven’t figured out how to post a video to my own blog. (sigh) Where’s my papyrus and ink quill?

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  18. Wait. We can make sharks and dolphins on Facebook?!? Who knew? Well, besides you, Lisa. 😉 Very fine post.


  19. writlady says:

    great post, ladies. thanks so much. The first time I cross posted, a friend told me this was a no-no, and why, so I quickly unhooked the two of them.


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  23. Debra Eve says:

    Great post, Lisa. I unhooked my FB and Twitter pages a few months ago, just because it became obvious to me that what you share on one doesn’t actually fit the format of the other! It became too frustrating to conform 🙂 Like others, I’d love to know what to do with an author page and hope you’ll post about that, er, where ever the candy trail leads.


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