How Recent Facebook Changes May Effect Brand Engagement

October 6, 2011, 10:17 am by

Over the last month Facebook has been pissing off users, exciting developers and stressing out marketers with the roll-out of a whole slew of updates.

So what exactly has changed, and what impact does this have on the way in-which consumers are interacting with brands within the platform?

1. News Feed – prior to F8 Facebook modified the algorithm which populates users News Feed so it acts more like a “personal newspaper.” What Facebook determines as “the most interesting stories” will now be displayed at the top of the feed. Beware, with the ability to curate posts marked as a Top Story, users can remove boring/unimportant brand content.

2. Ticker - to compliment the changes to the algorithm a Ticker has been added to the right hand column of the News Feed. While the Ticker will show all brand posts and subsequent engagement in real time, due to the volume of updates it will only produce lightweight brand impressions.

3. Timeline – one of the biggest announcements at F8 was the introduction of Timeline, which will replace traditional profile pages. Designed to enhance personal story-telling, users will be able to rewrite their histories using updates/pictures and a new wave of social applications. Without developing an app, which users can add to their timelines to highlight their interestes (music/cooking etc), it will be very hard for brand pages to break into this area.

4. Open Graph –  the importance of the Like looks set to be diminished now that consumers will soon be able to describe their relationship to brands using other verbs e.g. listen/watch/read. This means brands can customize the action of sharing, to better reflect how consumers are using their products. In addition, data on these actions will be collected expanding engagement metrics.

WHAT A BRAND FACEBOOK PAGE MIGHT LOOK LIKE IN THE FUTURE

While a lot of uncertainty remains as we wait for the roll out of Timeline and additional experimentation with the new facets of OpenGraph, there are some immediate takeaways for marketers.

Size doesn’t matter – its what you do with it.

It’s no longer enough to get consumers to Like you. Brands must provide value or, even better, inspire consumers to perform social actions, in order to maintain visibility. Thanks to the updates to Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, which determines the Top Posts in users Newsfeeds, it’s going to be harder than ever for brand updates to get seen. Preference for Top Posts will be given to the people/brands who users interact with the most. Brands will need to take a long hard look at their content strategies to make sure it is speaking to their consumers interests versus their business interests.

Apps will be the key to discoverability.

As we’ve seen from the partnerships Facebook announced during F8 the most high profile and successful applications will be social by design. Companies must be able to answer “what makes their brand social?” Social media strategies should help to create experiences that consumers will want to utilize, to tell their personal stories. In return Facebook has reverted to one-click upfront permissions, which will allow for continuous sharing of brand related content and higher visibility in user’s Tickers. However, only those actions which spawn real interaction will be bounced over to a users News Feed to gain maximum exposure.

Real-time conversations will become more important than ever.

Thanks to the introduction of custom verbs, consumers will now be able to tell the story of how they interact with brands much more accurately. This is especially important when it comes to Facebook ad targeting. The more people do on Facebook, the more data they create about users interests, needs and wants. What consumers are eating/drinking/watching will all act as a filter to serve ads against. Smart marketers will use this additional information to create intention based advertising campaigns. For example car manufacturers can now target ads to consumers who have test driven one of their products rather than someone who has already just purchased a car.

Timeline for Pages… Coming soon!

You can bet your bottom dollar that the design of Pages will change. Although we don’t know when this will happen Facebook has hinted that there will be consistency across Pages and Profiles. This provides a huge opportunity for companies to tell their brand story, and highlight their creative sides. Not only does the Cover photo lend itself nicely to some kind of brand beauty-shot, but pictures within the timeline can be expanded to highlight particular products or social interactions with consumers. Page curation will play a much bigger role for community managers as the infinite scroll increases the lifespan of brand content, giving consumers additional opportunity to reignite nostalgia associated with a brand or its products.

While a lot of these changes may seem momentous the nature of how brands should be using Facebook hasn’t really altered all that much. Sharing great content and experiences which speak to consumers interests, are still the gold-standard of any Facebook marketing strategy!

How do you think Facebooks recent updates will effect brand strategies? let us know in the comments below.

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