Thursday, March 1, 2012

Facebook Marketing's New Product Offerings: An overview

A large amount of the early discussion on the changes announced at the Facebook Marketing Conference has been around the redesigned Pages. However, the new product offerings announced may in fact have a larger impact on engagement with and reach of branded content on Facebook.

We understand that the Page is where brands publish content, but now that content can become ads and sponsored stories. You are no longer limited by Marketplace Ads or Sponsored Stories in the right sidebar with a call to action of “Liking” the content.

One of the biggest concerns to overcome on Facebook is the “Field of Dreams” strategy. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. A very, very small percentage of highly “viral” and engaged content is truly organically viral. The vast majority of what people perceive as “viral marketing” has a large paid media component behind it. Facebook just made it easier to get your content in front of a larger audience than ever before.

Reach Generator

A small percentage of your fans continue coming back to your Page. That doesn’t mean that they don’t see or engage with your content on Facebook, but it means that they likely see it in their News Feed. What appears in your News Feed is based upon an algorithm called Edge Rank. The Edge Rank is a tricky beast. It uses a variety of factors such as relevancy of subject, your personal engagement with (likes, shares, comments) the content, the engagement of your friends with the content and how frequently you visit Facebook (among many other things). As a result, Facebook estimates that brands reach, on average, 16% of fans each week. That’s right. 16%.

With Reach Generator, Facebook guarantees that you reach 75% of your fans each month and an estimated 50% of fans each week in a simple, always-on way. Your fans will see your content as a sponsored story on the right-hand side of their homepage or in their news feed on desktop or mobile. In early studies, Facebook has seen engagement with brands and content (likes, comments, and shares) increase by up to 2x. In addition, Facebook reports that sponsored stories in the news feed receive a 5-10x higher click-through rate than standard Marketplace Ads. This is interruptive marketing at its most effective. At fMC, they noted that Dr. Pepper saw 140% increase in PTAT (People Talking About This) when adding a sponsored story and Ben & Jerry's reached 98% of their total audience in one month & increased ROI on sales 3-to-1 by "featuring" their best fans stories on their Timeline. Yes, Ben & Jerry’s turned user generated content into an advertisement activation to increase engagement on Facebook. They paid money to get the voice of their community in front of as many people as possible and it helped them increase their sales ROI to 3:1.

From what we can tell very early on in investigation, Reach Generator utilizes real-time Facebook Page Insights (more on that later) to help select the post with the highest potential for “virality”, and utilizes the new ad placement offerings to amplify its reach to your audience. These new placements finally include mobile. As more and more people access Facebook on their mobile device, it only makes sense that marketers put their content in front of users where they live.

Premium on Facebook

The biggest spenders will have access to the newest and widest range of sponsored stories and ad placements. The Brand Page becomes “mission control” for all marketing on Facebook, including Sponsored Stories in the right sidebar to non-fans, in the News Feed to fans, on mobile devices, on the logout page and includes the ability to turn any post into an ad. Yes, you can use Premium on Facebook to deliver events, questions, videos, photos, status updates and links to fans and non-fans alike on any of the Facebook ad placements. Status posts will be limited to 150 characters and are text only, Questions will display no more than four answers or three answers plus a “see more” link, otherwise there will be a limit of 90 characters for text associated with video, photo, event or link posts.

There was a question as to whether or not Premium was going to eliminate the traditional ad offerings on Facebook, but Standard Premium Ads, Premium Ads for Applications and Marketplace ads remain unchanged.

You have quality content, share it where it is most likely to be seen and shared. Use your content to maximum effect by engaging your audience in influencing their networks. Premium on Facebook delivers your content to as many people as possible to get people interacting with your brand and talking about you, while showcasing that engagement to the friends of your fans.

Facebook has four tips for the best way to integrate your content with their newest product offerings.

  1. Have Reach Generator always on so that you can continuously reach and engage 75% of your fans.

  2. Use Premium on Facebook to drive awareness for events and activities. For example, you should deliver your stories using Premium on Facebook for a product launch, movie premier or sales event.

  3. Use bold visuals. Grab your audience’s attention by using simple images with highly-saturated colors to stand out against the site’s white/blue background.

  4. Photos and videos drive 2x engagement. Engaging content is an effective way to drive more stories into news feed. Photos should be uploaded to a Facebook album for best quality and should not contain text overlays.

All this said, we are in no way saying that money = engagement here. You still need a carefully planned approach and highly relevant and engaging content, but these tools can help widen your scope, putting your best content in front of the people with whom your brands wants to communicate.

Real-Time Insights

Finally, marketers will have the ability to monitor engagement with their Page and content in real time. This means that you can make a post, see how well it is performing with regards to engagement and reach, then either edit, pin or even promote it through Reach Generator and Premium on Facebook. Real time insights allows marketers to be much more nimble in their editorial planning when they see the kinds of posts that are or are not performing and alter their tactics as a result.

Measuring Reach

It’s always imperative to know how many people are seeing your branded content. And (with money) it just got easier. Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) utilizes Facebook as a source of data. You can now measure the accuracy of online campaigns in delivering content to the targets across platforms. Paired with Facebook Insights, you have visibility to the breakdown of paid, organic and viral reach on your Page and can evaluate reach, engagement and people talking about your content.

Gathering Customer Insights

Social media professionals always extol the virtues of utilizing social channels as a way of gathering insight into your brand reputation and capturing the voice of the consumer. Facebook is now offering opt-in audience polls to allow brands to learn from their fans, friends of fans, and non-fans. Advertisers have the ability to run ads to target segments and test for engagement with creative and messaging within Facebook.

Brand Tracking

Nielsen’s Brand Effect product provides the opportunity to conduct opt-in polls on Facebook to evaluate performance of campaigns on high-level awareness metrics like brand recall, message awareness and purchase consideration.

As we see more and more money moved to social marketing as part of a larger digital strategy, the ability to measure performance of campaigns and advertisements on a granular level as well as a higher brand awareness level is paramount to securing budget. These new products must be evaluated for your digital mix. You have (hopefully) spent resources on planning and creating engaging content. Deliver it to as many fans as possible with Reach Generator. Increase engagement and create new fans with Premium on Facebook. Gather more insight about the efficacy of your content marketing with real-time insights, opt-in polling and the new Nielsen products then include all of this into your overall digital dashboards to see the impact your social strategy has on your business objectives to increase your budgets!

Facebook Fan Pages Overhauled: What does this mean for brands?

By now, most brands and brand marketers understand the power of Facebook, and that the hub of their Facebook marketing strategy resides on Fan Pages. The Pages are where businesses build connections with people. They are where brands deliver relevant content, connect with customers and brand devotees, announce new product offerings and poll their fans to gather valuable customer insights.

Facebook extols the virtues of their redesigned Pages in three distinct ways.
Pages allow brands to:

  1. Express brand identity with features like cover photo and Page timeline.

  2. Reach and engage brand audience on the web and on mobile.

  3. Respond to people in a quick, more personal way.

That’s all well and good and we would love nothing more than to get into a deep discussion about how these changes may alter the Facebook component of your social/digital strategy, but let’s cut to the chase. The new Pages are available now, but everyone will be forced to adopt the new Page by March 30, 2012 so it’s important to understand what you need to do tactically.

What is the impact of the new Pages on day to day operations?

  • Cover Photo and Profile Picture

The first thing to understand is that the Cover Photo and Profile Picture are two completely different things serving different purposes. The Profile Picture is the image that is displayed as a thumbnail in news feed stories, ads, sponsored stories and comments. Choose an image that is branded, easily identifiable and looks good at both 180x180 pixels and 32x32 pixels.

The Cover Photo is the top image visible on your Page and will establish the experience on your Page. The photo can be up to 850x315 pixels. Size, however, is not the only limitation. There can be no call to action indicated (this includes “Like us” or “Share” or “Sale!”, “25% off now”), nor contact information (information like url, email, phone, etc belong in the “About” section).


  • Landing or Welcome tabs

The ability to direct a new visitor to a welcome tab is gone. It’s really that simple. Everyone who visits your page will see the Timeline and your Cover Photo. The key is now to use Timeline to tell a compelling story and utilize creative to capture the attention then use relevant and engaging content to keep people coming back. Apps will continue to exist and we will talk about those a little later in this post.

  • Pinning Posts

Much like the new Twitter brand pages, you have the ability to pin Wall posts to the top of your Timeline. Stories will have a star icon when you hover over them. Click on that star to widen the post and click the pencil icon to pin it to the top, hide or delete. This makes calls to action, custom apps or featured content able to garner more attention.


  • Historical Timeline

Just like your personal Timeline, you now have the ability to capture the history of the brand on Facebook. Utilizing Timeline, you can upload archival photos, feature milestones of the brand and showcase the brand narrative. Starbucks, for example, has photos of their first store. Ben & Jerry’s includes early advertisements and English soccer powerhouse Manchester United highlights photo albums of each trophy ceremony in club history; a very cool way to educate the public on the history of the brand. While this will likely require a content strategy and some creative development many brands have a compendium of assets in their archives. Timeline gives those brands a great way to utilize those assets.


  • Apps, Photos, Videos, Likes

A series of panels housing custom apps, photo albums, videos, Pages your Page like and the People who Like your page appears directly under the Cover Photo and above the Timeline. Here is where you can highlight your custom apps, and you have the ability to choose the order of everything other than Photos (which will always be first), but you only have a total of 12 panels so choose wisely.

  • Administration and Messaging

All activity is now managed from the Administrator Panel. The activity log is where you review all of your posts and stories as well as where you access Insights and are notified when people post to your Timeline or message you directly. Oh yeah, that’s new also. All people can now send private messages to Pages, which should make taking customer service or other sensitive matters offline. In addition to the Administrator Panel, brands can finally change the name of the Fan Page! If you happened to misspell your brand name or the brand name has changed, you can request a change.

What is the big picture?

Ultimately, the Fan Page is all about engagement. So how do brands increase engagement?

Be interesting. Use your creative. Yes, it’s important to have a variety of types of posts, but the numbers don’t lie. Using visuals in Wall posts generate twice the engagement of a text-only post (on average). This will likely only increase with Timeline and Premium on Facebook (more on that later). Timeline’s tile format means that images are larger and the ability to engage with photos is much improved. Yes, there will be more creative resources required, but the flexibility to create an on-brand experience is much improved and will create lasting relationships with consumers.

Your Facebook content strategy will likely require evaluation. How will you ensure that your content is visually engaging? How does the brand narrative flow on the new Timeline? When posting, what milestones will you feature? Which posts should be pinned to the top? How will you work with your colleagues in various business groups to ensure that calls to action and featured campaigns receive the attention they deserve? A well-defined editorial calendar in coordination with Facebook Insights, Premium on Facebook and your overall digital dashboards will go a long way to assist you in making your Facebook Page a strong performer in your digital mix.