On Wednesday, February 29, Facebook made several announcements at its fMC conference for marketers in New York. Several of the tools brands have available to them are undergoing big changes. These changes touch both paid tools and organic ones, emphasizing the growing link between the two. Here is what was announced:
- Timeline for Brands: Timeline for brands features bold imagery, larger stories and the ability to dive deep into a brand’s history. Brands will have 30 days to “curate” their Timelines before Facebook makes them automatically visible. Brands can choose to flip the switch before then and several beta partners including American Express, Walmart and Ford have already done so. This new display is currently available to all brands, although brands will have a month to get ready before everyone is switched over on March 30, 2012. Brands will be able to preview the new look and feel before going live.
- Coupons: Brands will soon be able to create R4 I 1.4.1 new, Cellulari ANDROID Dual Sim coupons directly in Facebook. These coupons can be posted to the brand’s Timeline where users can share them with friends or on their own Timelines, allowing for great organic reach. Brands can also choose to promote coupons to sponsored stories on the Facebook home page.
- New Premium Ad Products: A number of Premium Ad Products were also introduced including:
- Sponsored stories in the news feed
- Sponsored stories in the Mobile news feed
- Sponsored stories on the (new) Logout screen
So what does this mean to us brand marketers?
Content Is King
With Facebook’s impending IPO, they’re placing a lot of emphasis on their ad products. But before you can sponsor a story, you need to have a story to sponsor.
With the new Timeline view of brand Espansione Memoria Nintendo DS Lite pages, the content a brand creates is front and center. Posts are bigger. Images are bigger. Videos are bigger. Content can be pinned to the top of the Timeline. It can be starred and stories made even larger.
Facebook’s best performing ads will now all be linked to the power of good content – stuff that’s engaging, compelling, and to use their nomenclature, helps to tell a brand’s story. That means consistently sourcing great content, such as videos and images, and having community managers who know how to wrap it in compelling calls to action.
Paid Media Is More Important Than Ever
It’s not enough to just direct prospective fans to the brand page anymore. Before Timeline, default tabs could be set up to draw non-fans into Like-gated engagements, forcing them to Like the brand to continue. While Like-gating is still an option, brands can no longer direct non-fans to specific tabs by default. Everyone lands on the Timeline.
Consequently, brands will have a greater reliance on paid and earned media to achieve the greatest reach for their campaigns, promotions and engagements. The more brands are willing to spend on elevating their best content in front of the most users, the more interactions their content will garner, which in turn will cause Facebook’s algorithm to reward that page as a highly engaging one. That means users who have Liked the page will be more likely to see all the content whether or not it’s been “boosted” by a paid placement. Brands with good content but no ad budget will begin to struggle for views in users’ newsfeeds.
Mobile Ads & Targeting
In this post-PC era, Facebook users are accessing the site from their mobile phones more than ever. Mobile ad products could not come at a better time. Facebook is still not being specific but in theory mobile only could become an option for ad targeting, as could much finer geotargeting than currently exists.
It’s All History
Brands now have a place to tell their stories, backdating all the way to when the company was founded. With Milestones and backdated photos and videos, brands are able to not only engage their communities in the now but to take them back through memory lane. This is particularly relevant to brands that have been around for a while.
Curate, Curate, Curate
With brand-generated stories now aggregated, remember that this means the most “popular” content will rise to the top.
More than ever, social customer service is imperative to deal with potential PR-related issues and disgruntled fans as soon as they arise. Issues that go unchecked often snowball and users get more and more vocal about their displeasure. Encourage your brand to be proactive about responding to these types of events.
Brands will need to go through their past posts and hide anything that they’re concerned will reflect badly on them. They will not have the option to hide individual negative comments on posts, only the posts themselves, so use discretion when making the decision of what to hide.
Communicate Directly with Your Fans
Customer Service on Facebook just got easier. With the new direct Messaging functionality, fans are able to interact directly with brands by sending them messages. Brands may then respond as the brand, something that was not possible before. It’s likely that this will largely be used to address customer service requests.
More Competition for API Partners
Many brands have been funneling more budget to Facebook’s API partners, who have been able to drive actions like “Likes” and App installs much more efficiently than Facebook’s in-house Premium ad units through optimization. Until Newsfeed ads become open to API partners (the trend has been for ad units like Sponsored Stories to launch as Premium and then become available for partners to sell) it may be necessary to recalibrate the media mix if indeed clickthrough rates are dramatically higher within the Newsfeed.
The Logout Experience
Log-out throws a bone to the traditional marketer with what amounts to a huge banner ad. It’s doubtful that clickthrough rates will remain high across the board for this though early results can expect to perform decently on novelty factor alone. Given that this too will be a Sponsored Story, the big question is: What’s the use case? Who logs out, sees an ad on the logout page, then logs back in to Like or Comment on it?
However let’s say Facebook is pixeling the logout page, and let’s say they launch an ad network. Now they have a way to target Facebook users outside of Facebook on behalf of advertisers and a test bed for an ad unit that does make sense adjacent to relevant content elsewhere. This is only a possibility, but it’s an intriguing one.
Brands will have until March 30, 2012 to switch over to the new Timeline format. This grace period should be used for previewing, making visual adjustments, adding company milestones and sorting through past posts to look for any issues.
This should allow plenty of time to get your brand Facebook Timeline ready.