In case you missed the news, and quite frankly how could you... Facebook unveiled some major changes last week during their annual f8 conference. And marketers and advertisers would be wise to take notice.
The biggest change, at least that's what I'm hearing anyway, is the introduction of the Timeline which will replace a users profile with a timeline of events from their (Facebook) lives: status updates, photos and so on. The Timeline will also provide others with the opportunity to explore updates from their friends from a number of differeing timelines - the current week, to last week, to last month. Additionally and perhaps the most critical aspect of the new Timeline app is the fact that the Timeline will NOT show actions such as "liking" a given brand's page. This will still appear in the Ticker however, which is a fast-moving set up of updates of every action you and your friends do. The problem is the once ubiquotous and highly-sought after "like" wil not carrry as much weight.
There is, however good news as the folks at business2community tell us "... There is an opportunity for some brands to start to 'own' verbs by getting users to take actions on them. There is also a chance to be more creative in how people interact with content. Rather than 'Liking' items that you want to buy, how about a more emotive 'Want'. Then maybe Facebook could gather together all your 'Wants' in one place as a gift list of things that you would like people to buy you from around the web."
I think it's a great idea with lots of potential but the key takeaway here is the "like" button will no longer be as important... marketers will have to work that much harder to earn their place in valuable news feeds space.
And if you're so inclined, here's how you can try Timeline for yourself right now.
Another important change is a new class of Open Graph applications that let users share what they listen to, watch, and read with friends. According to Inside Facebook, "These news feed and Ticker stories will feature new "Listened", "Watched", and "Read" buttons. Advertisers on Facebook's Ads API or who work with the Direct Sales team will soon have the option to target users who've shared through these apps or clicked these buttons, letting them reach consumers of their content that might not have Liked a related Page."
This is huge for it now allows advertisers and marketers to not just target someone who "likes" a page, but also ANY user who shared something about a given brand through an Open Graph application. The example InsideFacebook uses involves the band Coldplay. Now, advertisers and marketers can target anyone who shared a Coldplay song via an Open Graph app like Spotify or target any of their friends who clicked "Listened" on a shared story about the band. "Advertisers will also be able to turn media sharing and usage of these feedback buttons into Sponsored Stories that turn what would have been news feed or Ticker stories into sidebar ads."
All of this sharing will allow Facebook to acquire more data about them to develop power ads. Remember, the profile redesign Facebook did last year allowed for more prominence for users biographical data and interests and actually encouraged users to provide additional information about exactly who they are and also what forms of media they prefer and which brands they like. All this, plus the new feedback options, means Facebook is in fact turning these behaviors and activities into targetable information for advertisers.
Highly targeted Facebook ads on Facebook called Sponsored Stories are not new. And up to now, marketers and advertisers have been able to turn only a few actions, such as a Like or a check-in into Sponsored Stories. Now, thanks to a connection to an ad system Facebook calls Action Spec, marketers and advertisers can utilize a whole slew of actions to create Sponsored Stories from such as the aforementioned Coldplay example.
From Inside Facebook, here's a few more examples of how the new ad targeting capabilities could be used:
- A concert venue could target all users who said they listened to band to sell tickets for that band's upcoming concert.
- A band could target all users who listened to one of the songs off their soon to be released album about that album going on sale on iTunes
- A big box retailer could target all users who shared or said they watched any movie starring Johnny Depp to sell a new DVD box set of the actor's films
- A film studio could target any user who said they watched a trailer of a new film that a friend shared after watching it on IMDB.
- A tech conference could target any user who said they read an article on any of the major technology blogs
- A baby clothing retailer could target any user who said they read on article about how to buy clothes for infants on a blog for mothers.
This is certainly a lot for any marketer and advertiser to digest and I definitely recommend reading as much as you can about all the Facebook changes. This most assuredly puts the emphasis on marketers and advertisers to deliver value to their customers/fans on a consistent basis.
"Marketing will need to reinforce apps with other channels to ensure their success. If you're good at marketing, good at building buzz, good at aggregating crowds, you will win."