31st October 2011, by Tim Beaver
Following our previous article on the recent changes to Facebook, we look at what these changes mean for brand marketers. Essentially these changes challenge brands to “up their game” and not just focus on gaining “likes” – to produce compelling and valuable content that users will want to interact with and share. Here’s why:
Top Stories, and a smaller role for the ‘like’ button
Facebook has added a control in the top left of each story, that users can click to check/uncheck to mark/unmark a Top Story. Facebook uses this information over time to automatically generate relevant news feeds with ‘Top Stories’ for each user via an algorithm – which also takes into account the number of ‘likes’ and comments on a particular story. Now that users have more control over their news feeds, brands with boring or irrelevant news feeds will have much lower visibility.
Get users to share and interact with content
Unless a fan actively participates in a brand’s Facebook Page continuously by sharing a brand’s content, leaving comments or ‘liking’ posts, then a brand’s status updates will cease appearing in the fan’s Facebook stream.
This means that if those who 'like' your Facebook page aren't interacting with it, then you're probably not reaching them. From now on, marketers are going to have to work much harder to earn their place in users’ news feeds.
Keep an eye on the Ticker
The ticker was one of the more controversial changes, however users are starting to appreciate the real time updates it provides. It can offer real time marketing benefits too. Via the ticker, users are able to discover Facebook pages that their friends are commenting on. Every time a user interacts with a post, then all of their friends can see the post and the comments thread, in their own tickers, and from there can potentially join in.
Sharing great, relevant content– that will stimulate sharing, comment and discussion, and doing this often, will ensure that you remain visible in users tickers.
More public sharing than private
Now users can create lists of contacts (close friends, family, colleagues) to share content with. Visibility settings for shares, tags, mentions and posts can be changed, and although no data is available, these seem to be becoming more public than private. As a result more content from our wider network of friends of friends and the public is becoming visible in our tickers. This means great content is travelling further on Facebook, which is becoming a more viral distribution channel.
Use photos to tell a story and encourage reshares
Facebook has made changes to the way that photos are displayed, dramatically increasing their size and prominence in our Newsfeeds. The display of thumbnails is visually much more engaging, providing the opportunity to tell a story and encourage interaction with the content and re-shares.
There is definitely an increase in the presence of shared photos in our Newsfeeds, have you noticed? Apart from the fact that photos now look so much better in our Newsfeeds, we can now change the visibility settings of a photograph to ‘public‘, and Facebook has added a ‘view shares’ count beneath every post, which encourages further sharing.
Brand pages ‘opened up’
Facebook has opened up brand pages so that wall posts and comments can be made by anyone, not just those who click "Like”. This opens up the opportunity to engage more users and for that engagement to be more visible via the ticker.
The introduction of "frictionless sharing"
This is an area that you’re going to be hearing much more about, and will be the subject of a subsequent post so watch this space.
Open Graph is a new Facebook Application Programming Interface (API) that allows marketers to create a new class of applications that integrate with your website, and let users share what they listen to, watch, and read with friends.
Frictionless sharing is Facebook's term for when something you are reading, listening to or watching is automatically shared to your Facebook Timeline. Until now, sharing has been a manual process e.g. clicking a Facebook "Like" button, With Facebook's frictionless sharing, once you approve an app, all of your activity in that app is automatically shared to Facebook. Here’s the official video.
Facebook changes signify a shift in importance towards action and engagement (i.e. the number of people that have added your content or application to their timeline) rather than how many ‘likes’ you have. Brands are going to have to be ever more strategic, creative, and relevant to their fans to get noticed.
Sport has always thrived on sponsorship, and people have always had an inherent desire to spectate over who will triumph and who will fail. As a result, major sporting events continually attract huge crowds and huge revenues, and the London 2012 Olympic Games are no exception.
Valentine’s Day always guarantees three things: sickeningly happy couples (me, bitter?), too many heart displays in shop windows and a whole heap of PR stories. Here, I take a look at some of my favourites. PR stories. Not couples or window displays. That would be weird.