Facebook turned a lot of heads last month with the announcement it was testing a "Buy" button on sponsored ads and Pages updates. Positioned as a way for brands to sell their wares while keeping customers inside Facebook's social embrace, it's pretty much a win-win for retailers and Facebook combined.
That wasn't the first time Facebook added a feature designed to help marketers reach customers. Earlier this year, the social media platform added options to its Custom Audience tool that allows brands to choose a call to action (CTA) from a list of five: Shop Now, Sign Up, Learn More, Download, and Book Now. By opening up the range of CTA options businesses can offer, the feature becomes more useful to companies that don't sell tangible products.
Now some brands on Facebook are seeing a new type of call to action feature on video posts that may help expand the reach of just Facebook updates. InsideFacebook.com reports "As discovered by Memorado and Inside Facebook reader Matteo Gamba, some pages have the option to add a call to action when they upload a video.Facebook has made the call to action button a powerful option for direct response through ads, but now it looks like page admins could get the ability to add such a button on non-advertised posts."
For anyone watching the evolution of brand engagement on Facebook, the pervasive call to action feature comes as no surprise. The social platform is happy to create a welcoming environment for companies to market and sell but, as with their approach to individual users, Facebook keeps a fairly tight grasp on what it considers acceptable behavior.
Earlier this year, Facebook announced that brands are no longer allowed to ask for shares or "likes" on Facebook Page posts or risk a penalty for noncompliance. Facebook said the goal was to reduce the amount of spam and disingenuous posts people got in their news feeds. Of course, companies are still welcome to buy advertising on Facebook to be sure their message of choice is seen by as many people as possible.
The emergence of call to action buttons on business-run Facebook pages, posts, ads, and videos may finally bridge the gap between keeping content relevant to its user base and giving brands a way to market themselves effectively. The five CTA options ensure that consumers will receive something of value in exchange for clicking the button. Whether it's an option to make a purchase, receive specific information, or simply sign up to receive future marketing content, the feature compels brands to offer something in return for a customer action.
It's likely that's been Facebook's goal all along -- to find the sweet spot between spamming users and inviting them to make informed decisions on how to interact with brands over social media. It will probably take Facebook some trial and error to figure out the best way to integrate CTA buttons into company pages but it's a step in the right direction. Smart brands can use the emerging feature as a way to encourage engagement from fans and followers without worrying about being too spammy or aggressive. Now that's a win-win for everyone.