New Facebook – Interpretation for Brands

Do you know how to use Facebook to optimize your INTEGRATED social media/marketing strategy and plan? Are your driving MEASURABLE results? I have some recommendations.

There was no shortage of coverage on Facebook’s changes for brands as of February 29, 2012. I won’t go through the announcements (as so many have done already), but I’ll give you the highlights before I explain “why you should care” and “what you should think about.”
First here is a summary of Facebook changes:
• By default, both fans and non-fans will be directed to a brand’s timeline tab when visiting their Facebook page. Timeline also means that there are new or changing features and navigation:
- New cover photo (at the top of the page) in addition to the small existing profile picture,
- Fan engagement is separated and not integrated in with brand’s postings as shown on timeline,
- Splash pages and “like gates” are no longer an optional landing page, and
- More admin control on look and display of posts
• Page administrators have the ability to “pin” content at the top of their page for one week such that it does not scroll down as new content is posted.
• Reach Generator – guarantees brand posts will be viewed on more fans’ news feeds (more detail below)
• New premium ad formats (sponsored stories, page posts) – Photo, Video, Question, Status, Event, and Link
• Offers – postings of a discount or promotion from brands to their fans

And just one more thing before we get into the new Facebook and its social media marketing ramifications. Let’s not forget about the objective of social media and how success is measured. Social media is about building relationships. Social media success is about being able to measure an objective.

Building relationships in social media is defined in the A-Path model I have presented numerous times. The A-Path of relationships as a brand to your target segment’s individuals is Attention > Attraction > Affinity > Audience > Advocacy. The way we measure social media success is to measure Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, and Advocacy. The intersection of social media relationship building and social media measurement is described in the article “Social Media Model that Defines the End of the World as we Know It.”

Got the foundation? OK, let’s talk Facebook. Go through the next few sections and stop to think about how Facebook can (now) be used for your marketing efforts. Based on the new features and information Facebook unveiled at the 2/29/12 fMC, we all need to start to think about Facebook marketing differently – for better and worse.

Facebook Brand Page – A Destination Site
Facebook timeline is impressive. The new look is aesthetically pleasing. This is a positive move by Facebook. Yes, there will be those that rant and rave because people do not accept change so well, but in the long run (and maybe not so long) I think most will come to accept and appreciate the new look for brand pages. I like the new feature set – especially the ability to “pin” content or a promotion at the top of a brand page for a week and keeps it from scrolling below as you place new posts on your brand timeline.

Let’s be clear here. Facebook is working to make your Facebook brand page a destination site where dynamic content resides. Think of this from two perspectives. 1) How do you leverage the Facebook brand page changes and is that destination now more compelling than your static website. 2) Prior to timeline, most people’s Facebook brand experience was on their news feed as opposed to specifically going to the brands’ Facebook page – just think of your own experience as a user rather than your role as marketer.

Facebook is NOT a Brand’s Community
Facebook is a great place to build attraction and affinity for your brand once you have gotten someone’s attention. It is NOT your community and there are better platforms where you should build your audience. One of the biggest issues with thinking Facebook is YOUR community is that you do not have access to or own the data of your “Facebook likes.” Thus, if you do not have these users’ data, they are not your true audience. Rather the people that like you on Facebook are just potential passers in the night. Having customer data is key for any and all marketing efforts.

This is not to say that Facebook serves no value – hardly the case. It is a starting point; not an ending point. You want to use Facebook for attraction and build affinity with your target segment. And as you do this and the individual feels a stronger relationship with your brand, you want to collect their data. Point them to content in your OWN community and invite them to join YOUR community. I always ask my clients a rhetorical question … Would you rather have 25K Facebook likes or 25K members of your community? Where do you think you can monetize better?

Facebook Freeium Model
The next point is that in essence, Facebook is not free. It really is a freeium model for brands. You get some functionality for free, but if you really want the key benefits, you need to pay. Up until the fMC on February 29, 2012, brands were led to believe that they collect likes for their Facebook presence and their posts would be directed to the news feeds of the people that liked them. In reality, this is NOT really the case. The reality that Facebook unveiled is that, on average, only 16% of fans saw brands’ posts. (This is due to their edge ranking algorithm that determines which post shows up on an individual’s news feed.) Facebook now offers “reach generator” to up the view percentage on news feed to a guaranteed 75% and as high as 95% for delivered posts. So now brands have to assess whether their Facebook strategy makes sense without “paid media” or if they are willing to foot the bill ($0.30 per like for a 3 month period). What are the measured results a brand is likely to get with and without reach generator – work your metrics.

Additional Paid Facebook Features
Facebook did announce new premium ads (in addition to their existing non-premium Marketplace ads). One of the biggest change users will see is that premium ads will appear in brands’ timeline and users’ news feeds if the user or one of their friends liked or interacted with the brand’s Facebook page. The ads will look like status updates. Facebook hopes this will generate more user interest.

Now what happens if brands want to reach other people with their advertisement – not just their fans? These premium ads have the opportunity to be displayed in non-fan news feeds if the user’s friend has liked the ad. The premium ad can also be displayed on the right side of the page for users that have not liked the brand and there is no interaction with the brand from their friends. These “stories” are really premium advertisements targeted to non-likes based on brand-selected demographics and other data people share on the social network.

One other change for these premium ads … Facebook looks to change the digital advertising model. These premium ads will not be priced like other typical CTR (click through rate) ads. Click-through rates for Facebook ads have been very low and Facebook’s position is that CTRs are a poor measure ad performance. Thus Facebook has partnered with Nielsen to implement a gross rating point (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_rating_point) model.

Facebook Position for Brands
Facebook is positioning brands to be more true to the intended use of a Facebook user experience. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO said, “People do not expect to be talked at – they want to be a full part of the conversation.” The new premium ads (“sponsored stories”) are meant to be delivered like other “normal” Facebook status posts. This means that brands must be creative and provide valuable information or entertainment in their paid premium ad and sponsored story posts. No user is going to want to see a blatant ad in their news feed from a brand. This could disenchant users and backfire on brands. Be careful how you craft your premium paid posts. Facebook is putting some spin on their new premium ad position. They are careful to call these posts “stories” – not ”ads.” Brands must follow suit and execute these “stories” as well, stories – not ads.

One Additional Facebook Payoff
As Facebook prepares for their IPO, one of the significant hurdles that they faced was not having a mobile ad play. They did not have this functionality in their mobile app. Everyone questioned their ability to generate revenue from mobile users. This segment represents a substantial portion of Facebook use … approximately 50 % of Facebook use is via mobile. Now the problem is solved. Facebook is now simply delivering “ads” in the news feed. Tell the investors it is “ads” in the news feed; tell the rest of the world it is a brand story in the news feed. I think this is called poetic justice based on the crowd you are playing to.

Summary – Facebook Part of an INTEGRATED Social Media Strategy
It remains to be seen how users react to seeing brand stories/ads in their news feed. Now don’t get me wrong. Social implementations must have an integration of both organic social and paid social. But given the reality that brand posts only reach 16% of the intended audience without the fee-based reach generator, Facebook is now primarily a paid media channel. Yes, you can use their new timeline feature set to build a beautiful, dynamic destination site, but Facebook’s new position should definitely make you rethink your brand’s Facebook use.

There are great opportunities to use Facebook in the early parts of you’re A-Path relationship building, but all brands should make strategic decisions with regards to where they want to shape and build their audience. My recommendation is that Facebook is NOT a place to build audience. Think about the behavior you want to change in your target segment. Think about the steps and channels used to build strong relationships. This will lead to the appropriate use of Facebook in your integrated plan and this is likely not the same way you thought about Facebook yesterday.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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4 Comments

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, community, Facebook, marketing, marketing plan, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

4 responses to “New Facebook – Interpretation for Brands

  1. Interesting article Steve, the changes definitely give more Visual vitality to pages. Although on laptops the size of the cover image is something that needs a little work to deliver an esthetic and user friendly page. At present a large image is diffusing what’s below, if the case is that people are starting to visit pages.

    I am not complaining I think the changes are good, one thing that doesn’t help develop pages further is the exclusion from the timeline of activity, interaction, tags by people who like the pages. Unlike profile timelines which are far more integrated and interesting.

    Understanding the need for paid adverts is always a talking point, i can honestly say I haven’t and do not see adverts on Facebook or Google as my focus is the wall and content on the page. Whether this changes with integrated ads i am not sure. I don’t see ads as of value as a user and talking to others know nobody who does see this as a positive, we shall see.

    So yes good changes but if likers, users are to be involved their activity needs to be seen as part of the whole conversation not something that needs an extra click or two for people to see.

  2. Jim Matorin

    Steve:

    I always value your insight. A concise summary in comparison to what I have been reading. I find it interesting when I read that the overall objective of FB Timeline is the build relationships with your customers. I think that will be a difficult task for major brands given their customers will be on sensory overload. For small businesses it could be a plust. For consultants? I still do not see the value (yet).

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