Archives for posts with tag: marketing

I like to keep my Facebook Wall tidy. I delete all those one-line stories about pages I like, photos I comment on, walls I write on, etc. I used to have to X each of these stories out one-by-one. Then I got the Better Facebook plugin, which let me delete them at all once. Now Facebook itself is offering the option to not only delete the all activity, but to prevent future stories of this type completely. As a user, I appreciate this.

As a brand marketer, not as much. Part of the rationale for certain types of posts is knowing that fan actions have visibility to the rest of those people’s networks. Beyond aiming to please fans, I want my posts to get likes and comments so that my page gets more organic impressions. If Facebook makes it easier for users to hide all this activity in advance, the network effect is reduced.

Though I wonder if Facebook is still showing this activity in my friends’ News Feeds, just not displaying it on my wall…

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Facebook has added a new feature called Questions, which allows users and pages to ask questions in a format that makes polls more social and creates opportunities for brand content to go viral. The tool also makes it easier to get recommendations from friends and has implications for the future of social commerce.

Facebook Questions are easy to answer like polls, but more compelling because people have the option to add their own responses for others to vote upon. When people answer questions, it shows up on their walls and in their friends’ News Feeds, leading more people to participate and so on.

Last year Facebook tested a different version of Questions that asked people to write full text responses to questions a la Q&A site Quora. But Facebook recognized its users were more interested in opinions than facts and that they preferred clicking to writing. The new Questions should have much higher adoption.

For users it’s an easy and organized way to get thoughts and recommendations from friends. For brands, it’s an additional way to engage with and learn about consumers. And since Facebook pages are tagged in the answer options, it’s a new way for people to find and connect with brands.

Now imagine the possibilities for Questions if/when Facebook releases the API. As with the the Like button and the new comments plugin, Questions will blur the lines between on-Facebook and off-Facebook. For instance, at the end of every news article or blog post, the writer could pose a thought-starting or opinion-polling question. When someone answers that question, it would generate a News Feed story, leading more people to discover the content.

More interesting to ponder: what if you were looking at a pair of Nikes online and had the option to answer, “What do you like best about these shoes?” Or maybe you’re at Niketown and the question pops up on your phone when you scan a pair of sneakers. When you check out, you could be served a question about your service that day. The whole time your answers are being shared with friends to whom your opinions and experiences matter.

Whether used this way or in its simplest form, Facebook Questions is undoubtedly part of the movement toward an economy where our decisions are more influenced by our social networks than traditional advertising. Keep an eye on this.

Things are looking up for brand marketers on Facebook. Last year was a major one for new products and changes to enhance the user experience, occasionally at the expense of marketers. But beta tests and launches of new Page admin features indicate that Facebook is focusing on improving the experience for advertisers and community managers in 2011. A new advertising platform and tools for Page activity notifications and analytics could help improve moderation and promote engagement.

Facebook’s big announcement last week was Sponsored Stories, a new ad format that allows brands to highlight organic News Feed items, such as Likes and checkins, to increase the chances friends see these stories and take actions to connect with the brand.

It’s too early to know how well these will work, but the announcement suggests Facebook’s self-serve ad platform will be getting a much needed update in the next few weeks. The interface for creating ads is not as functional as it could be, and the ad preview is outdated since Facebook changed the layout of profiles. Facebook advertisers should look forward to improvements for both ad creation and reporting.

Page Insights have already gotten an upgrade this year, with admins now able to easily select a date range for data. There’s also a movement toward real-time impressions data for posts. Page admins will be served well if this is part of a greater push to provide more up-to-date analytics. Page Insights are often a day or two behind.

On the community management side, a major new feature will be the ability to receive notifications about fan activity on a page. (Some admins got a preview of this when a bug accidentally revealed prototype features in December.) Admins of popular pages know how hard it is to keep track of new comments and posts. Third-party apps don’t track all activity, but Facebook’s pending feature is likely to be more complete.

Other things Facebook has in the works include a top posts filter for pages and a new way to promote page updates in the latest Facebook Messages product.

On Friday, the company redesigned the interface for creating new pages, further signaling that Facebook is putting more thought toward the experience of people who use Facebook for business.

2011 could be the year admins have been waiting for.

As the year comes to a close and I reflect on the work I’ve done, I can’t help but think about how different Facebook was at the start of 2010.

Facebook’s own timeline isn’t very helpful, except to show that Facebook gained 200 million users since December 2009.  Even Flowtown, maker of many great infographics, failed to show just how much Facebook did this year. That’s why I put together this comprehensive, but probably still not complete, timeline of Facebook in 2010.

Some changes helped marketers, others seemed to be direct attacks against us. The introduction of the Open Graph Protocol and social plugins like the Like Button have, in only a few months, begun to reshape the face of the web. With Places and Deals, we have major new features to incorporate in our campaigns. We have more analytics about the Pages we manage and the apps we implement. We can share larger photos and Like our fans’ comments. And Facebook ad targeting is becoming increasingly more effective.

There were many other additions, tweaks and redesigns that have changed the way we all consume and interact with Facebook. It’s mind-blowing to think of what next year could hold.

But I’m excited to find out.

Facebook Timeline 2010

January

February

March

April

May

  • Added ability to create Events from the homepage
  • Launched 0.facebook.com, a simplified mobile version of the site that can be accessed free to international users with certain carriers
  • Changed the privacy settings dashboard in wake of controversy from the Open Graph and Instant Personalization announcements (Facebook claims to have simplified the process for controlling privacy, but the interface still needs work)

June

July

August

September

October

November

  • Announced Single Sign-On, which is like Facebook Connect for mobile apps
  • Introduced Deals, an addition that lets businesses offer coupons or other deals to people checking in with Facebook Places
  • Announced new Messages product, which combines text, chat and email to make communication more seamless. This feature has not been released to all users.

December

Facebook users have always had a love-hate relationship with the site. It’s creepy, it’s a waste of time, there are too many redesigns, it isn’t as functional as it should be…and yet it is completely absorbing. Five hundred million users can’t be wrong, can they?

But people will get fed up with Facebook — and not because of privacy concerns. We are all talk when it comes to those issues. Every new feature of the web makes our lives more public, and we eat it up.

No, I think the downfall of Facebook will be the marketers’ fault.

MySpace lost its crown when it became overrun with perverts and spammers. I fear Facebook could become a wasteland of fan-hungry community managers looking for Likes. (Especially because I, myself, am an agency-employed community manager.)

The problem is Facebook’s changes have increasingly been catering to businesses rather than average users. There’s the recent wording change from “Become a fan” to “Like,” which helps brands rapidly build their social profiles. Then last week Facebook reorganized users’ profile information so that activities, interests and favorites are linked to corresponding community pages. Any bio information without a natural brand or group affiliation was lost. At the same time, by including a television show or anything else to their favorites, users were automatically registered to receive updates from the related page. That means if I want to make a personal statement about myself by saying I watch Top Chef, I have to put up with Bravo’s marketing messages in my news feed.

I can’t imagine Facebook is putting equal effort into developing ideas to enhance the user experience. Why not improve the system for finding old photos and posts? How about a feature to see all interactions with a friend? Or the ability to see more degrees of separation? An option to forward messages?

These things would make Facebook easier for friends to connect and share with each other, which is what brought people to the site originally. What happens when Facebook is completely optimized for companies to socially network with consumers and lacking in peer-to-peer experience?

People will find somewhere else to go.

Consumers will always look for ways to tune out advertising. That’s why we have TiVo and pop-up blockers. I worry marketers who don’t understand Facebook will ruin the platform for everyone else. As a Facebook member since the time “the” was part of the URL, I am more mindful of how I function on behalf of brands on the site. Facebook is a social space, and marketers are just crashing the party unless they create content people will want in their news feeds.

Facebook might be making it easier for marketers to be lazy, but if people feel bombarded by dispassionate brand messages, they will move on to a new, yet-to-be-exploited option. And marketers will once again be scrambling to catch up.