ADOTAS – In September, Facebook unveiled the largest set of new features since it launched the Facebook API platform in 2007. The company followed this up in October with an extension to the Facebook platform that allows social media app developers to bring campaigns to the 350 million people (44 percent of Facebook’s user base) who use Facebook every month on a mobile device (including iPad and iPhone, Android and Facebook’s own mobile website), using HTML5 mobile-web development tools.
While the changes mean a great deal to users of Facebook — a new ticker, wholly new personal profiles, a host of new “socialized” apps, and true mobility — they also herald new opportunities for media agencies and brands looking to engage fans. However, these opportunities also entail challenges for marketers: More than ever, they’ll need to ensure their message rises to the surface and gets noticed. Because Facebook wants a user’s news feed to show the most engaging content by default, campaigns that are not engaging or interesting will simply be buried. Now, a campaign that is not cleverly crafted,carefully planned and diligently executed risks becoming irrelevant.
Social marketers: It’s time to get creative.
Motivate Fans to Share Your Message
Facebook and other social media platforms offer brands new engagement opportunities to “humanize” their experiences with consumers, and to provide opportunities for their consumers to amplify their marketing messages. If brands can motivate fans to share their brand message through creative campaigns, it turns a personal experience into an action directly related to the brand’s business goals. This can be an incredibly powerful marketing moment. When a friend recommends something, friends listen.
On Facebook, this means offering campaigns that are personal and that speak directly to the fan. Engaging campaigns might include humor, or might be poignant and thoughtful. They might be timely — such as holiday-driven — or reflect current viral themes and memes. Campaigns might allow participants to pick photos from a fan’s Facebook album and add funny, share-worthy content. They might offer the fan a chance to share an experience in order to trigger a charitable donation by the brand. They may suggest a funny reason why a movie character is memorable, or share a virtual gift with friends, like chocolate or kisses.
Whatever the theme of the campaign, one thing is paramount: to be engaging. Engaging content gets shared. Engaging content gets commented on. And engaging content becomes more visible in the news feed.
The Freedom to Engage — Anywhere
Brand marketers we work with are thrilled with the engagement opportunities provided by Facebook, and they want users to be able to interact with their brand through Facebook. Increasingly, though, their target audiences are consuming content and interacting with friends not just from their homes and workplaces, but from the many social environments — restaurants, bars, sports venues, etc. — which they frequent and from which they post to Facebook via mobile devices.
Previously, a brand’s Facebook applications were hidden in the mobile news feed screen. Now, by incorporating HTML5 elements into branded apps, campaigns can for the first time truly come to life on a mobile device.
This latest development opens doors in other ways, as well. It’s integrative: Facebook users who are also gamers can play games on their phones and share on Facebook. It’s efficient: It streamlines the development process. Now, instead of deploying as many as three or more teams to develop separate campaigns for the desktop, the iPad and the Android (for just three examples), brand marketers no longer have to choose their device — they can enlist a single development team to produce an effective and timely multi-platform campaign. And it’s highly productive: It enables marketers to make virtually all their apps “social,” thus increasing the level of engagement with their target audiences.
Are People Talking About You?
The recent changes to the Facebook platform also mean there’s more pressure on brands to make the day-to-day content of their own brand pages more engaging. Once a fan “likes” a page, it becomes an opportunity to start a conversation.
A cornerstone of Facebook’s Insights upgrade in September was the new metric called “People Talking About.” Facebook is highly focused on the importance of “sharing” on Pages, because this increases a brand’s reach. The “People Talking About” metric allows brand marketers to track the productivity of a brand’s page. And as a step toward greater, more insightful use of social media as a powerful marketing weapon, it’s a very exciting development.
Put simply, “People Talking About” responds to a key marketing concern by taking Facebook campaign measurement beyond the “like.” This new metric doesn’t just measure how much people are talking about a Page in the traditional sense (by commenting), but instead includes all the activities that Facebook considers conversational. This includes “liking,” posting on a page’s wall, sharing, commenting, RSVP’ing, photo-tagging and checking in. The “like” retains its primacy, but Facebook now provides multiple additional layers of measurement designed to assist in determining a campaign’s reach and success.
The key to moving this number is the development of successful content. When content is entertaining and interesting, more people participate — whether on a desktop or mobile device. When more people participate on a page, the “People Talking About” number increases. So, the higher the quality of content, the more engagement among fans.
So, ask questions. Run polls. Share tips. Share interesting, related articles. Share content that humanizes your brand. Ideally, your fans will share your posts with their own friends. Naturally, shares on a post are hugely beneficial. They increase impressions and create a “social recommendation,” which itself can also increase impressions. In many ways, shares are more valuable than likes.