Facebook held its first-ever conference for marketers last week in New York City. (Image at right is signage from the event) The half-day conference was invitation–only with a very limited capacity. Many thanks to Facebook we were honored to be included and we’re proud to be an official Facebook partner.
The conference marked the first time Facebook introduced a slew of new features just for marketers. All previous FB conferences (known as f8) have been geared toward developers. This is highly significant because it signals another step of maturity in Facebook’s monetization strategy -appropriately timed just after their S1 filing for an IPO. Facebook is now after more sophisticated advertisers and big brands and is optimizing its platform for the enterprise.
Webtrends is very excited about the new look/feel, functionality and capabilities announced as we are in the business of helping marketers to optimize and measure their digital marketing strategies – across social, mobile and web channels.
I’d like to review the key announcements and provide a perspective on what they mean, what’s their significance, and how you can capitalize on the opportunities these new developments and features will provide.
Future of Apps
There was much speculation that apps would disappear when FB rolled out Timeline for brands. That has turned out NOT to be the case – in fact, apps are more important than ever. We’ll break down the significant changes here.
An app (or landing page) can no longer be the default tab on your brand page. A brand page used to be able to set the tab upon which people landed when they first arrived on your page, or to set a default tab where fans would land upon visiting, and these two places could be different. You had control over where people landed on your page – and it could be conditional based on fan status.
That is now gone. Now, everyone (fans and new visitors alike) who comes to your page lands on your Timeline – and their first experience of your brand is a large cover photo (851 x 315 px) that appears above the fold.
Facebook has strict new guidelines about this “landing” cover photo: you may not use it to promote apps (tabs) and you cannot include arrows, visual cues or language pointing to or calling out your apps anywhere within the cover photo.
What does this mean? It decreases the amount of direct traffic you can immediately drive to an app. However, it’s not that big of a deal because most people aren’t visiting your page anyway – they will see your content in their Newsfeed. Since only .1% -.5% of fans actually go to your page, it’s the Newsfeed that counts.
This underscores the importance of having other ways to drive traffic to your apps – as we’ve been saying at Webtrends for a couple of years now. We’ve been a strong proponent of using tactics such as advertising to drive traffic to your apps. The perennial Field of Dreams “if you build it they will come” attitude is NOT a tactic. That’s why Webtrends introduced our Ads product over a year ago to help brands do Facebook ad management. It’s also why other app management solutions have started buying ad management solutions too in the last 3 months.
The other major way apps have changed is that you can only have three user-selected, visible app thumbnails displaying on your Timeline – directly under the cover photo – which you have the ability to control. (Your photos are also there – but you have no control over that thumbnail and it defaults as standard visibility on all pages.) This decreases the amount of discoverability of your apps – one CAN click the ‘more’ button to expand the area and see more of your apps in an expanded box, yet this extra step decreases discoverability for the user.
This only further underscores the importance of using promotional tactics like advertising (or posts to the wall, email, etc.) and lots of different ways to promote your desired tabs (apps). Fortunately, the icons for the apps that DO show right under your cover photos are actually larger. This is a bonus as it makes it easier to promote them and gives you more visual real estate to draw people into the apps that you can show there.
Also – on the app page itself, the image is increased in width from 520 pixels wide to 810 pixels wide, which is even wider than the old canvas apps which are 760 pixels wide. So, apps are wider than ever before giving you more real estate to develop them – a big positive. Developers can employ wider lay-outs which increases options for what you can do above the fold. So, redesign your apps and app thumbnails to take full advantage of the real estate you’re now given.
Another thing that has changed (and this happened before the announcement at fMC) is the introduction of apps within a user’s personal Timeline. A Timeline app is one that appears in the right-hand column of the person’s Timeline and shows an activity log from an app that uses custom open graph action, for example – Pinterest, Hulu, Spotify, etc . A user’s activity in or with these apps will show up on their timeline now (i.e. what I am watching, listening too, pinning)
So, brands: you will want to upgrade your apps to support custom open graph action so that your fans’ activity with your app will be shown on their timeline to all their friends.
Facebook announced they are getting rid of virtually all ads in favor of sponsored stories. We expect in the not too distant future that sponsored stores will be the only ad type, the only option to select, when creating an FB ad in the self-serve marketplace. They also announced that sponsored stories will be making their way into the Newsfeed. Sponsored stories in the Newsfeed will be delivered out to mobile as well. This is huge because it’s the first mobile ad unit from Facebook.
So, how to capitalize on this? Do all your advertising with sponsored stories! That is, sponsor one of your posts, or a recent activity that appears in the ad space in the right column of Facebook, as well as within the feed. It is unclear to us at this time whether the determination of where your sponsored story appears is governed by how much engagement the sponsored story gets, or if brands will have to pay extra for inclusion in the Newsfeed.
Results? FB announced a few case studies underscoring the success of sponsored stories i.e. Ben and Jerry’s which reached 98% of its fans this way (the avg. sponsored story reaches 75% of your fans) as opposed to the typical Newsfeed post (not sponsored) that reaches an average of only 3%- 7.5% % of your fans.
In the past, your FB Insights data was several days old (between 2-5 days on average.) Now, that data is realtime.
Please note that while FB announced that the data will be realtime, only post-level metrics will be available in realtime first, followed by page level metrics - but no specific timing has been provided.
What is the importance of this? You can now evaluate the effectiveness of your post the moment you hit ‘publish’ – which allows you to decide whether to sponsor it (create a sponsored story out of it) the moment you see that it’s hot. Or, conversely, if you see that you posted a dud – you can decide to post that one again later or in a different way. You can evaluate this in realtime now. Awesome.
That age-old question FB admins have been asking : “how often should I post?” is now answered! It depends on what does well – post again if something’s not working, but if it’s rockin’ and rollin’, let it ride.
Enterprise Page Management Control
Brands now have more granular sophisticated control of their own pages. Out of all of these things, what page admins are most excited about is the introduction of 5 levels of page administration capability. For example, you can decide who has permission within the company to: see insights, post, add other admins, change page settings, or the ability to approve. This is not so significant for small businesses that have one administrator but it has great significance for enterprise-level companies with multiple admins. You might want to allow someone to just see Insights but not to post – or to post but not change settings, or create other Admins, etc… We will get more details about these permissions and when they’ll be available but they are not available yet.
How to capitalize on this? Admins of enterprise brand pages will be pleased to have more control about who in the company has impact on the Facebook page. This shows that FB is starting to court big advertisers that have more sophisticated needs (bigger budgets, multiple social staff, longterm FB marketing strategies.)
FB also introduced new post types and moderation controls. One of the new post types is called Offers, – a paid post type that you can only buy from a Facebook ad rep – it is not available in the self-serve ad marketplace. Another new post type is called “Milestone” – the ability to add a date that has significance to the growth of your company – it appears in the middle of your timeline page.
Another new feature is the ability to back date a post. This allows you to put your whole company history on your Timeline page – i.e. Coke has loaded their historical milestones back 100 years. Great way for a company to show its historical achievements (product roll-outs, moves, new market entries, etc.)
Another new moderation control called “Allow” lets you curate what user content appears on your timeline. This is significant because it’s not the same as just deleting a post which may not be appropriate or positive - the post still shows up on the person’s personal profile, but you can disallow it from showing on your Timeline, anywhere. The only way for a user to post on a company’s page will be to tag it their own post – and if you do not allow it, it still stays on their own page but doesn’t show up on yours.
FB also now allows you to star (called ‘highlight’) a post which increases it in size twofold (doublewide on the page) or, you can ‘pin’ it to the top, no matter what the date. (Here’s a Pro tip: you can’t do both.)
All of these new features are not yet controllable via Facebook’s API – as soon as they are – we will make them available in Webtrends Social – look for updates from us about that.