The New Facebook: What Brands Should Know
The New Facebook: What Fashion, Lifestyle, Beauty and Luxury Consumer Products Should Know
Facebook now has 800 million users, and on Thursday, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerburg proved to marketers, retailers and consumers why all Facebook does in (in the words of DJ Khaled) “Win, Win, Win No Matter What.”
The following article and my marketing insights specifically address Zuckerburg’s keynote presented:
Deeper Engagement + Deeper Sharing = Real-Time Serendipity
Social networks are ubiquitous tools that people will use to connect. –Mark Zuckerberg
Better User Experiences: Facebook is following the model that most social marketers haven been calling for sometime–focus on engagement, not just growth. Zuckerberg noted that the future of social networks will be related to growth through moving towards openness and transparency. Facebook changes to their open graph hope to bring the best of the web (Tumblr, Path, GetGlue) all together and create almost frictionless social experiences.
Users can share their personal experiences wherever they go by creating one-click permissions–automatic additions of apps to keep user actions in sync. Facebook’s permissions dialogue redesign is following the trend that Amazon has laid down in one click ordering. Since Facebook already has the connections in place, the future of social media relies in social apps, depth of engagement with those apps and their users sharing their lives with people in their social graph (those that they’re connected with online and offline).
Streamlined Mobile Integration: During the week of September 11th, Facebook experienced 1/2 billion users in one day. Since Facebook’s launch, Zuckerburg noted that mobile Facebook users have grown by five time since the platform has launched: Facebook averages 350 million mobile users per month. These two statistics show that mobile and social are integrating fast and the changes to Facebook are based on this merge.
The Impact Facebook Changes Are Going To Have On Users
Timelines: What We Love. What We Fear.
According to Zuckerberg, “People feel intense ownership over profile. People have invested a ton of time to tell their personal story and have made the profile the best way to express who [they] are.”
Zuckerburg noted that a profile is the first five minutes of an introduction to a person, their stream is the next 15 minutes. For strangers or friends, the new Timeline, the heart of the Facebook experience, will serve as the next few hours. Since people have spent years expressing the stories of their life, the new Facebook Timelines seek to serve as an expression point where important events doesn’t fall off a cliff. Instead, they keep going and a historical archive exists.
The overhaul also heavily focuses on the mobile experience via tablets and smart phones. Facebook has optimized the visual design of the Timeline for our mobile devices. For those creating content or apps on the platform that users are viewing, they simply have to take into account Facebook users mobile behavior instead of designing things specifically created for mobile devices.
What We Love: We love the fact that user Timelines are visual documentation of their lives that allow users to express who they are in a curated fashion without becoming to reminiscent of flashing, animated gifs that once overran MySpace pages. As many consumers have taken to photo sharing apps such as Instagram, Lockerz and Moby, we’re sure the integration of these services via “post to Facebook” will increase as the new Timelines are oriented towards such visual content. As I’ve already said, “We have to inspire people with photos and educate them with words.”
What We Fear: Our biggest fear are users sharing too much information on Facebook. No, we are not talking about the mundane things, like checking into every cab in New York City, that most of us post now. Facebook is moving those things to the Ticker–a function that’s already live.
While Facebook makes app integration, content sharing and syndication of our lives easier than ever, they are becoming even more powerful than Google (oh wait–they already are) in the information they are gaining from us. Now that we’ll be able to share our “likes” via verbs such as “listening, reading, drinking, tasting”–and we predict that “buying” and “wearing” are not far behind--as users, we are doing the work for Facebook and all its marketing partners and advertisers to better serve us ads and sponsored stories. Why? Because we’re providing all the demographic data that they could ever want. (We wrote about the impact of real-time, behavior ad targeting on Facebook in March). The marketer in me jumps up and down, but the personal users is going to be more weary of what apps she’s using, what brands she’s interacting with and simply what she’s sharing on Facebook. There is such a thing as too much information or irrelevant information.
The Impact Facebook Changes Are Going To Have On Marketers, Brands And Retailers
In his keynote, Zuckerberg noted that people who use Facebook LOVE APPS and they’ve learned that users utilize apps to express themselves. Thus, thanks to partnerships with Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and gaming companies, apps have become the focus of Facebook’s new monetization efforts. The next version of the open graph will lead to a new class of apps that lead users to have more open, connected experiences. This means that users can discover apps from their friends’ timelines as well; all they have to do is click an app they discover and it’s added to their Timeline. The new version of the open graph is not just about connections users have in have in their immediate circles, it’s about connections in the world; the graph becomes the map of all these relationships. Hello frictionless experiences.
Perhaps the biggest news, aside from real-time behavior data are the analytics reports that Facebook is going to be able to generate, these reports roll up everything a user has ever done with their apps into monthly, yearly or lifetime reports. What this means to us is that we’re going to be able to not only going to be able to better target our current customers and fans, but we’re also going to be able to target new fans and customers based on their app use. Moreover, we’re going to be able to find patterns in their behavior that show us how they, and their preferences and shopping patterns, evolve over time.
At the beginning of the year, I started questioning the value of designing Facebook specific content. When Effen Vodka launched Defining Style that featured content from Signature9.com, Fashionista.com, Vivienne Tam and Peter Som. All participants featured links to the Facebook page on their sites in some way. At the time, there was no easy way to add customized content to Facebook that wasn’t costly in my opinion. Now, that has changed with the launch of the Newscorp Washiongton Post social reader, which includes Mashable, Yahoo! News, The Economist, Telegraph, Gizmodo, Le Monde and the Guardian, and WSJ Social.
Media companies now are grasping the concept that social marketers have been saying for years: you have to go where your community is and make your products, services and company apart of that community’s ecosystem. What’s interesting is that with the adoption of social gaming and rewards, according to Jeff Bercovici of Forbes, WSJ Social allows users to chose whose streams to follow–the official ones of the article authors as well as other users–and that determines the content they see. The most followed users can compare their rankings on a leaderboard and earn prizes, including their own WSJ-style stipple portraits. “It’s really about the users being elevated to editors,” said Maya Baratz, head of new products. With the Washington Post social reader, content will be personalized based on news users have already liked on Facebook. The reader gets smarter the more people read and will tailor the content to user interests.
Publishing exclusive content to Facebook now has context and it’s also going to be a requirement for publishers, but also brands and retailers who publish their own content as part of their online marketing strategies. And doing it in ways that get recognized is going to the biggest challenge for marketers and brands because the content is only going to surface through true social engagement. Clever one, Mr. Zuckerberg!
The addition of verbs will allow Facebook to gain more data to power ad targeting. According to InsideFacebook, “Advertisers on Facebook’s Ads API or who work directly work with the direct sales team will soon have the option to target users who’ve shared through apps or clicked on buttons, letting them reach consumers through content they might not have ‘liked’. Granular targeting will allow advertisers to choose if they want to reach users who listened to a specific song or everyone who used an app.”
Advertisers will also be able to turn media sharing and user content into Sponsored Stories using feedback button, which can turn news feed or Ticker stories into sidebar ads.” Facebook’s VP of global marketing solutions David Fischer told InsideFacebook that they are consider releasing a “want” button for products as well. Developers will also be able to create customized feedback buttons as well.
So what does “want” potentially mean?
- It means Target can target people who buy Missoni or bought the Missoni For Target line to promote and premarket their collaboration with Versace.
- A fashion school such as FIT could target potential students that would be interested in degrees it offered because they “want” to work in the fashion industry.
- Hudson Jeans could target users who read articles about how to shop for premium or created content about how to care for premium denim.
FREE IDEA: How about customer who wants to skin their profile with your brand? I see the new cover photo as a low cost opps to let customers show how your brand or cause is part of their DNA. Custom design them, make them available. Let them spread across Timelines.
Changes To Monetization Model
The addition of verbs also shows a shift in Facebook’s revenue models. Brands and retailers have felt that getting fans to notice and ‘like’ a brand page has been difficult without launching complex online marketing campaigns. Well, it’s going to get even more complex. In the next few weeks, Facebook is in the process of developing partnerships with a first string of lifestyle apps that integrate the use of verbs, but the new timelines won’t be available for brands and businesses right away.
Naill Harbison of Simply Zesty notes there are no ads on the new Facebook Timelines (though they currently show). Harbison also notes that “Facebook is clearly looking at the 30 percent they can take from all platforms activities as a much bigger carrot than advertising can ever be. With less room for advertising Facebook could be cutting their revenues unless they are thinking about moving ads into the main timeline at a future date to give them more prominence, which is not out of the question.”
With the addition of sponsored stories within the new ticker, coupled with the addition of verbs, brands and retailers are going to have to change the way in which the market to consumers on Facebook. While it may be a challenge, I believe those who do it well are going to have unprecedented successes in building engaged, highly-active communities with the new features available (and if you need help with this, that’s what I’m here for).
Brands will have to become more social, not just say they’re social. May fashion brands and retailers fail to respond to comments on Facebook or Twitter. These new changes are going to force us to be less polished and become more community oriented. And the people heading these positions are going to have to be employees/agencies that not only understand your brand, believe in it, but also live and die for social media. And the apps that you develop for Facebook will be the vehicle in which you engage your community now. – @Macala
Privacy: Let’s Set The Record Straight
I think it’s important to the mass speculation regarding privacy and new changes that are happening on Facebook. According to Stephanie Lee, Esq. (disclosure: Stephanie is my business partner at WHY THIS WAY; she is an attorney that specializes in Internet Law), here are two things you need to know:
- Only the look of user profiles–now called Timelines–are changing. All the privacy settings are staying the same.
- Users need to read the fine print of all Facebook apps that they authorize. Moving forward apps will operate in the background of your sharing activities across Facebook, users may be posting updates they don’t remember authorizing.
“Like email lists or catalog services, they are opt-in services,” says Lee. “It’s important to check your privacy settings on a regular basis.”
Macala…What Did Facebook Just Do To My Social Media Strategy?
Well, Facebook is now leading the evolution of social media, social marketers have known this has been coming for some time. What Zuckerberg said in his opening keynote is 100 percent correct. But here’s the thing, we’ve been talking about deep relationships with our customers and integrating into a part of daily lives for years, this hasn’t changed. We’ve just got better tools to make better connections. Facebook is awesome for that!
- Will you have to change your social media strategy? Yes.
- Will I have to develop content specifically for Facebook? Yes.
- Am I going to have to hire a specialist to help me understand how maximize my ad spend on Facebook like I do Google? Yes, unless you have one in house. You can also have an outside evaluation done and then have the consultant work with your internal team to implement it.
- Am I going to have to change my Facebook marketing strategy? Yes, but most brands don’t have cohesive ones anyway. We’re just starting to see good things happen so it’s the perfect time!
- Should I abandon all marketing efforts and forsake all other social media platforms? No.
- Why shouldn’t I abandon all social media platforms? Because, Facebook, while a large community, isn’t the only community. Niche marketing is going to be as powerful as Facebook in building awareness and brand advocates.
- What social media platforms are the next hot thing? Aside from “the new Facebook”? Well, it depends on you what your marketing goals. I’d advise focusing on maturing the current communities you use and also focus on dimensionalizing the experiences your followers are having in those communities. Augmented Reality and 3D are really hot right now.
- Will Facebook become Google? Well, that’s a really hard question to answer. That’s a 10,000 word article in itself.
- What platforms should I drop now? Hopefully you are completely off of MySpace, it’s very 1998.
- What else should I consider? Well, Facebook’s changes are enforcing something that multi-channel retailers are doing well–ONE CLICK SHOPPING. It’s going to be a very busy year for e-commerce developers. As etailers, we’ve got to make the purchase as quick, seamless and simple as possible for our customers. We’ll be rewarded increased online sales.
What do you think of the changes to Facebook’s Open Graph? We’d love for readers to share their insights.
Photos: Screenshots from Livestream – Zuckerberg Keynote. DJ Khaled – YouTube Video.