What Facebook’s Changes Mean for Marketers

If you’re a brand marketer, last week was no doubt busy for you trying to absorb all the new Facebook changes and determine exactly what they mean for your brand. The news was all about the extended Open Graph, Timeline, social apps, Ticker, and the discovery and sharing of media content at an entirely new and comprehensive level. Facebook made a major statement: It wants to be the place where the world goes to connect, discover and share content of all kind. Opportunities abound for marketers. Here’s a quick look at a few:

The News Feed & Ticker
Facebook’s revamped news feed uses the new Graph Rank technology to deliver users more relevant and important content. And the Twitter-like Ticker now offers a home for your more “lightweight” updates and activities. But not everything gets in the feed; your competition with a user’s friends and family just got harder. The often-used phrase “content is king” has never been more applicable. A renewed emphasis from your brand on creativity and content has to start now. Brands need the social marketing tools and technologies that allow them to deliver cutting-edge content that is not only engaging and interactive but also highly targeted. Content like photos, videos and wall apps are naturally more interactive, especially apps. And interaction and apps were a big part of the news.

Expanded Open Graph and the New Apps
Facebook is using its strengths to redefine how consumers interact with the social web. And the new Open Graph and social apps just took “interaction” to an entirely new level. A friend is listening to music using Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio app. That activity shows up in your Ticker. When you mouse over it, you can listen right there and “discover” it. Now, expand this to include activities like watching a movie or TV show, cooking a new dish, reading a book, and yes, buying something. This activity can also appear in Timelines, automatically. This is the power of apps and the Open Graph: Making it easier for people to discover your brand via a friend’s interaction with it. Relevant, targeted and interactive content, as well as custom-branded social apps, must be a focus for brands. Almost 90 percent of all purchases are made because of a peer or family recommendation. Facebook is making those connections and interactions easier, more visible and relevant. And the potential for brands is tremendous – across owned, earned and paid media.

Sponsored Stories Improve
Facebook’s new Open Graph functionalities coupled with the emphasis on new social apps takes sponsored stories to a new level. Consumers can now express so much more than likes, taking their actions and activities and expressing them seamlessly. Consumers can now share instantly what they are reading, watching, eating, almost any activity. Brands can take these new interactions and make sponsored stories much more relevant and real.

The Timeline
The Timeline is about how users want to introduce and express themselves, and what others may want to know about them. It’s personal, meaningful. So how closely do your fans want to be identified with your product? Buying a new Ford may be special enough to make the Timeline. Mundane tasks not so much. Always be asking, “How can I be a more meaningful and relevant part of customers’ lives?” Again, creative, targeted content is so critical here. Marketers that can develop the content and stories that get into users’ Timeline have a great branding opportunity – talk about the “brand ambassador” element.

These are big changes. They’re designed to make the site more sticky and increase users’ time spent on Facebook. That’s good for brand marketers because you have more reach and a higher frequency to connect with consumers. I expect these changes will result in a strong growth in users and increase in time spent on Facebook. And, with Facebook as the pillar, social will continue to grow in importance for brands’ overall marketing strategies.

Reggie Bradford is CEO of Vitrue, a social marketing platform. Follow him @ReggieBradford.

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