Facebook Entices Brands with New Features and More Fan Outreach
At last weekâ€™s Facebook Marketing Conference (or â€œfMCâ€), the company made its pitch to brands with a focus on three specific new marketing solutions:
Calling Pages â€œmission control for your business on Facebook,â€ Facebook unveiled new features that essentially turn a brandâ€™s Facebook Page into a website home page. While it is unlikely a business will forgo a website entirely in favor of a Facebook Page, it sure looks like Facebook is encouraging brands to do so. The Facebook Page includes such new features as a large area that can be used for a â€œcover photoâ€ of the marketerâ€™s choice; a place for a â€œprofile picture,â€ which most brands will use to display a logo; an easier-to-find prominent place for photos, events, and custom apps; a â€œpinned post,â€ which allows an important story to remain at the top of a Facebook Page for up to seven days; and the much-touted â€œbrand timeline,â€ which is an extension of the previously announced timeline and basically allows a brand to time-stamp interactive content. While the brand timeline is being selectively rolled out and isnâ€™t yet widely available, some large marketers have already created new Facebook Pages that incorporate the use of the timeline. One look at the Coca-Cola Page, for example, gives an online marketer insight into where the Facebook Page with all of its new features is headed.
- Reach Generator
According to Facebook, Reach Generator â€œguarantees that you reach 75% of your fans each monthâ€¦in a simple, always-on way. Fans will see your message as a sponsored story on the right-hand side of their homepage or in their news feed on desktop or mobile.â€
- Premium on Facebook
With Premium on Facebook, marketers pay a â€œpremiumâ€ to have Facebook â€œshow your content to the right audience at the right time, always in the most impactful places,â€ says the company. Content appears on the right-hand side of a homepage, in the news feed on the home page, in the news feed on mobile, and during the log-out experience (optional). Facebook says that placement on the right-hand side and in the news feed on Facebookâ€™s homepage have â€œan average of 5xâ€“10x more engagement than all other places on the site.â€
â€œReach Generatorâ€ and â€œPremium Facebookâ€ are essentially paid ad programs that offer special placement for sponsored content. â€œPages,â€ however, features some significant stand-alone improvements that should help brands use Facebook in a more productive way whether or not they advertise on Facebook.
Excitement Over the Brand Timeline
The new brand timeline has some brand marketers excited. Matt Wolfrom and Matt Makovsky of PR firm Makovsky & Co., which has a lengthy list of clients in healthcare, financial services, technology, and energy markets, write in Advertising Age that â€œFacebookâ€™s timeline can be a bridge to millennials.â€ The authors say â€œwe envision a world of possibilities for heritage brands to build connections with millennials.â€ They point out that a brand with a long history could make an impression on an audience segment that may have no frame of reference about the companyâ€™s longevity or accomplishments. Wolfrom and Makovsky suggest that with the brand timeline, â€œmarketers will have a visual canvas on which to create a visually rich, compelling story to engage audiences in a more meaningful way.â€
Clearly, Facebook is looking for ways to generate added revenue from brand marketers, but it may have introduced these beefed up offerings for another reason: to make sure marketers know they can get results using Facebook. As I discussed in a recent post, Facebook has been useful as a lead generator, but has yet to prove its power in driving sales.
Engagement Still an Issue
A recent study even suggests that Facebook fans are far less engaged with a brand than one might think. Researchers at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute did a six week study of Facebookâ€™s â€œPeople Talking About Thisâ€ metric and discovered that only 0.45 percent of fans of the 200 biggest brands on Facebook actually engaged, according to a report in Advertising Age. The average engagement for the 10 brands with the largest fan bases was 0.36 percent.
Still, there is no denying that Facebook presents brands with the ability to reach a gargantuan worldwide audience â€“ some 845 million monthly active users â€“ and increasingly, Facebook is able to segment this audience into desirable targeted subsets that fit with a brandâ€™s marketing objectives. Facebookâ€™s user base is not unlike the huge consumer direct mail databases that have been used for many years â€“ only this time, brand marketers can engage users in an active, on-going social media conversation.
Updated Pages, the Reach Generator, and Premium on Facebook are just the latest offerings demonstrating the companyâ€™s strategic focus on engaging brand marketers. Itâ€™s all part of the inevitable commercialization of the worldâ€™s largest social media platform.
About Barry Silverstein
Barry Silverstein is a freelance writer/marketing consultant. In addition to writing for ReveNews, he is a contributing writer to Brandchannel.com, the worldâ€™s leading online branding forum. He is the author of three marketing books, The Breakaway Brand (co-author, McGraw-Hill, 2005), Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (Maximum Press, 2003) and Internet Marketing for Technology Companies (Maximum Press, 2003). Barry ran his own Internet and direct marketing agency for twenty years. You can find Barry on Twitter @bdsilv.