Facebook Changes with Marketers in Mind
The controversial topic in the marketing world (or the world period) has been the changes implemented by Facebook. As a researcher and all-around inquisitive professional I wanted to look into the changes and learn why they were made.
It is not surprising that the Facebook community would come under an uproar after changes to features and interface have been made, that’s as predictable as death and taxes. Instead of participating in the disconcerted approach of most users, I would like to discuss the two majors changes made by Mr. Zuckerburg and the good people of Facebook.
The first change is a new feature called Timeline. Timeline transfers each user’s list of status updates, check-ins, etc. into a “scrapbook” of their entire history on the site. It also ads that cool little box in the top right corner of the news feed that everyone loves so much, allowing any actions performed on the site to be shown in real time. Facebook says that this gives users more power to share content. As David Fischer, VP of Global Marketing Solutions for Facebook said, “It suddenly gives users the opportunity to share what business you’re in, the products you’re using or buying and sharing that with your friends.”
These changes are affecting the function of user pages, but have yet to cause any changes to the brand pages controlled by businesses. Fischer says they will not look like the timeline but will have a similar look-and-feel.
The second change is the addition of new tools for interests like music, recipes, TV shows and news, causing the most immediate impact with marketers in the entertainment segment. The new class of apps that function with the Timeline will allow marketers to promote when someone has an interaction with the brand online. This is a huge change for brands because as Gokul Rajaram, Advertising Director of Product Management states, “Marketers want to promote stories about the things they’re affiliated with but don’t always own the apps. Now you can promote stories from any app about objects you own, not just from the page owned by the marketer.”
Not necessarily just real-time updates about what users are doing on Facebook, but other sites that are connected to the user’s Facebook profile as well. The assumption is that it will give the user’s friends the opportunity to watch content from a friend versus content suggested by an algorithm.
Zuckerburg’s goal for the Timeline and new apps is to make using Facebook a “frictionless experience.” “If your goal is to just add lightweight activity, you’ll never have to see one of these prompts (permission pop-ups) ever again.” Apps currently slated to participate are DirecTV, Hulu, IMDB, MetaCafe, Mog, Netflix, Rhapsody, Songza, Spotify, Turntable.fm and Vevo, with Hulu and Netflix offered as “canvas apps” that allow the user to open content on top of the Facebook window.
The clear point (other than Facebook not knowing what they are doing) is that they are trying to increase engagement because that will drive up their own advertising revenues. But I see something else coming that will have a an even more substantial impact.
User data. It appears the plan is not just to increase engagement and grow ad revenue, but also to increase the amount of obtainable user data with information about likes, dislikes, preferred content and purchases. What they may actually be creating is the opportunity for marketers to speak to an audience of one. Amazon has been attempting to do this for several years, but are only able to obtain data dealing with the shopping experience. Facebook will be able to access data personal to the user’s behavior and personality. And that type of data is invaluable.
- Adam Daugherty, Firebox Brand Planner