At F8, Facebook’s most recent developer’s conference, the company unrolled new changes to Facebook emphasizing a richer experience for users and a focus on content. In short, the changes will push brands to go beyond “likes” while presenting new opportunities for broader distribution of messages to the brands that are most successful at capturing and holding attention of individuals on and off the network.
Opportunities with Applications
The Timeline, which will replace profile pages, represents a marketing industry trend which rewards quality storytelling. For brands, profiles will be based on soon-to-be-released applications. For consumers to declare their affinity to a brand, the brands will need to develop media, games, communications and lifestyle apps based on consumer demands for content. Getting fans to “like” a page is no longer a metric for success; sustained engagement through relative content will likely yield the largest rewards.
The Timeline will change users’ newsfeeds because engagement with apps via a brands profile Timeline will appear in the “Ticker” (located in the top right corner of the user’s newsfeed) and in the Timeline. Brands that execute new apps properly will be rewarded with amplification out to fans’ friends. Brand pages will be able to leverage their fans’ networks more than in previous Facebook updates. Clients and teams need to begin thinking about the types of apps and content with which their audiences want to engage.
Brands have the opportunity to use apps to tell their story. According to David Armano, Executive Vice President, Global Innovation & Integration:
“Facebook’s latest moves add up to three things: personalization, mobilization and amplification. For users, Facebook will allow users to further personalize how they want to share their lives to friends and connections. It also means doubling down on a better mobile experience. To brands and businesses, the revisions mean their interactions can be more effectively amplified IF they work really hard at high quality content and/or leverage paid options such as sponsored stories. From a business perspective Facebook is seeking to become the social layer that is woven throughout the Web.
The changes stress the increasing importance a “brand’s voice” in that it will need to be even more meaningful and add value to Facebook users. Companies who broadcast irrelevant information will be easier to tune out vs. those who genuinely connect with customers etc. who in turn reward them with engagement and amplification. In Facebook’s latest iteration, it becomes more about quality over quantity.”
The Media Cloverleaf is top-of-mind following these recent changes as the updated Facebook will likely garner the attention of users for longer periods of time as more useful and customized information will be readily available. Consumers’ profiles will be a hub of transmedia storytelling.
Executive Vice President, Global Strategy & Insights, Steve Rubel, commented on the updates:
“With the media partnerships Facebook unveiled today, the social network is positioned to be a one-stop-shop for media consumption. It’s unclear if they will pull it off. Regardless, the sheer attempt to do so is all the rationale brands need to think more carefully about where they tell their stories across the Media Cloverleaf. Brands should evaluate the various hubs that the news sites are creating and consider potentially prioritizing them in their media outreach strategies since such stories may generate further exposure.
The changes to Facebook will impact how media is shared across the Facebook network, particularly as emphasis is placed on relevant content and multimedia. Brands that are properly strategizing around the Media Cloverleaf will have their efforts magnified by the new Facebook newsfeeds.”
Changes in Detail
In this newly redesigned profile page, Facebook automatically adds photos, status updates and life events from your Facebook history to your Timeline. The user can also add photos and content from the past to fill out a “Way Back” section. This new profile feature allows a user to incorporate Facebook Places in the form of a map showing where you have been. With the Timeline feature, users can also add applications to their profiles to show a variety of information ranging from what songs they might be listening to, to the recipes they are trying or the runs they might take.
The biggest change with the profile page is the larger than normal profile photo. Ultimately, the goal of the Timeline is to bring back older content you’ve added to your Facebook profile that might not have surfaced again. The implication for brands is still unclear as most of the content posted to the new Timeline feature will be user profile based. However, with the ability to add applications to a Timeline, it is possible that a brand’s application may receive more attention as people explore their friends’ Timelines.
Available immediately, Facebook users will now be able to watch TV and movies, listen to music and read news without ever leaving the Facebook environment. You will be able to watch a show on Hulu, listen to a song on Spotify or check out any series of news outlets via the Ticker. The Ticker will tell you what your friends may be doing, which allows you to share in their experience by clicking on a link.
For entertainment brands, the opportunity to grow your footprint by exposure to an existing fan/customer’s social graph is valuable. This move also shows the importance of sharing valuable content with your Facebook audience. If it’s useful and people consume it, the opportunity for that content to spread is now even greater.
Facebook’s changes to Open Graph revolve around simplicity, with a primary change being that apps only need to ask for permission once, rather than every time they want to interact with a user’s feed. This means that users will be able to authorize an app once in their Timeline, and it will update automatically in the background thereafter. Updates from Open Graph appear in the real-time Ticker feed automatically, but won’t feature in the Timeline unless they are an important event.
The new permissions dialog lowers barrier for sharing, but introduces new concerns on privacy and security. Permissions and privacy concerns, which have recently been questioned by many users, have not been a key feature of this update, but Facebook will likely communicate about privacy updates in a later update. It was announced that a user will be able to preview what their profile looks like as viewed by others thus allowing users to fine tune privacy settings more easily.
Customized News Feeds
News Feed and Ticker
With the latest updates to the News Feed and the launches of the Ticker and Timeline, media consumption is about to get more social than ever before. Users will be able to discover new music, videos and other media content at the same time their friends are consuming it. When users consume media through various Facebook apps, that action is broadcasted to their friends’ feeds and they can discover content and start discussing it within seconds.
Libby Pigg, SVP out of Edelman Digital NY, expresses the possibilities of this update with a music example.
“They say it’s not really a party until there’s music…
The Spotify/Facebook partnership adds a deeper dimension of engagement than Facebook has ever provided, while simultaneously acting as a dynamic discovery tool.
Brands should be paying close attention to this. Whether it’s finding ways to add value to the Facebook music experience, or simply observing what their target audience is listening to, brands have an exciting opportunity to either join or observe the party in a way that has never been possible.”
Top Stories and Recent Stories are now combined, and for the first time users will be able to control which content is considered a Top Story. Additionally, Facebook’s new algorithms will adjust the meaning of a Recent Story according to how long a user has been logged-off. Users will be able to customize Top Stories by labeling stories as important or unimportant, controlling how often they receive content from a certain brand or friend, and unsubscribe from a particular user’s content altogether.
User controlled prioritization of News Feeds means that brands will have to focus even more on creating interesting and engaging content that have value incentives.
As Facebook News Feed recognizes how long a user has been away from Facebook, brands will need to focus more heavily on the timeliness of their messages, and will benefit from leveraging knowledge of when their fans are consuming media from Facebook.
To supplement its changes to the News Feed, Facebook has added a Ticker to the upper right-hand corner of users’ pages, which will allow them to view and interact with updated content in real-time. Additionally, the Ticker will include Sponsored Stories. The addition of the News Ticker has the following implications:
Sponsored Stories, which already have a 50 percent higher click-through rate than other Facebook Ads, will now have even greater visibility.
With the added interactivity that is created by the Ticker, brands may have the opportunity to leverage Sponsored Stories and unpaid messaging in order to create shareable content.
Going Beyond the ‘Like’
Called Facebook Gestures, Facebook will be rolling out a new feature where users can do more than “like” a piece of content. Facebook will be initially rolling out buttons like “watched,” “listened” and “read” in the near future. The thinking behind this is that people are more likely to click one of these buttons than “like,” because it might imply a specific endorsement. Additionally, Facebook will allow developers to create their own actions. We are likely to see a series of new buttons as this functionality becomes available to more users.
Updated Customized Friends List
Facebook users will be able to group brands into specific lists in the same way they create Friends Lists. When these users toggle between lists and choose to view content solely from brands, they will be more purposefully viewing content from these brands, rather than passively skimming over content in their general News Feeds.
Brand Page Engagement
Consumers will now have the ability to comment on a page without liking it. Updates are no longer limited 420 characters; the limit has been expanded to 5,000 characters for status updates. Brands should consider what impact this will have on their communities as users can now share more detailed complaints and accolades. While this update could allow detractors more opportunity to mobilize and share information, it will also be valuable from a consumer insights perspective as fans will also likely use the additional characters to share compelling stories.
For additional information on the changes to the platform, please see the following articles.
F8 2011: Facebook’s 7 Biggest Announcements From The Event, Huffington Post
Image credit: Facebook