Understanding the New Facebook
How Facebook’s New Focus on Apps and Depth of Engagement Will Change the Game for Brands
Dani Loebs Social Media Specialist
Table of Contents:
Introducing Timeline: Three Giant New Features for Personal Profiles … 3 Use Covers to Attract Page Likes ……………………………………………………………. 4 Invest in Timeline Real Estate with Featured Stories ……………………………... 5 Gestures: A New Language for Facebook Sharing on the Open Graph ……. 7 Introducing Real-time Serendipity on Your Facebook Home Page ……….. 9 Has Facebook Outdone Twitter? ……………………………………………………………. 10 Use Facebook Search to Promote Positive Brand Mentions and Engage New Customers ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 11 The Era of Engagement in Digital Advertising ………………………………………. 12 Look who’s Talking: The Big Overhaul to Facebook Page Insights …………… 13 Understanding the New Facebook: Strategies for Brands …………………….. 17 The Next Step: Anticipating Brand Timelines ………………………………………….. 18 End Notes ……………………………………………………………………………………............. 19
Introducing Timeline: Three Giant New Features for Personal Profiles
“The next era will be determined by apps and depth of engagement” -Mark Zuckerberg
On September 22nd, after massive buzz and speculation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at the F8 Facebook Developer’s Conference and announced the biggest changes Facebook users had ever seen. The personal profile would be transformed into the Facebook Timeline, where users could format their social identities to not only introduce themselves, but tell their life stories. Many social media professionals waited with bated breath to see if these profile changes would roll out for brand pages. Although still unknown, the assumption is that eventually these changes will trickle into brand pages to continue Facebook’s historic preference for streamlined formatting between brand and profile pages. Currently the Timeline view is only available to developers, and this delay in public release gives brands a precious opportunity to prepare for the huge changes in user experience. The following is an overview of Timeline’s three key features. It is also a springboard from which brands can take the leap to being smart, innovative and inspired with social media.
Use Covers to Attract Page Likes
The most visually striking change to the personal profile is the Timeline Cover, a way for Facebook users to display “a unique image that shows you best.” A vast improvement on the five-thumbnail profile “banner,” the Cover ushers in a Renaissance for Social Branding opportunities. While users are comfortable uploading a profile picture of themselves, they will have a harder time adapting to the concept of choosing a cover photo that defines their social identity. Armed with albums of gorgeous, perfectly-sized (850 x 315 pixels) Cover photos, brands can position themselves to provide a service for these new Timeline users. Here are five ways to use Covers to attract Page Likes: 1. Aim for Quality and Relevance. Provide exciting photos that reflect the voice, theme and/or products associated with your brand. The goal is to create Covers that are conversation starters to guarantee that users recommend your album to their inquisitive friends. 2. Brand Your Covers. Place a subtle watermark of the URL of your brand page or Cover album source in the lower-right corner of your photo. All who visit a user’s Timeline profile will see the watermark, and if the photo is of the highest quality, many will follow the link to find more stunning Covers. 3. Make it a Game. Create a “which Cover are you?” quiz on your page that results in a link to a corresponding cover photo and explanatory caption. Make the quiz fun for users, and also connect it to an aspect of your brand identity. For example, a tourism page could direct quiz-takers to a Cover photo of “their next vacation.” 4. Plant Your Content in Cover Sharing Services. Despite the fact that Timeline’s are not yet public, MyFBCovers.com i has already seized upon the opportunity to provide a Cover sharing and creation service. At this time, MyFBCovers’ Facebook page already has over 3,000 Likes and hundreds of user-created Covers. Seed these Cover creation websites with your Covers, and include your Facebook page URL in the Cover title. MyFBCovers allows for adding keyword tags to your Cover, so use SEO tactics to ensure your Covers get found. 5. Do it Yourself. Create your own Cover customization application and add your watermark to all customized Covers.
Invest in Timeline Real Estate with Featured Stories
The Facebook Timeline profile is displayed as two columns of wall posts, now known as “stories.” Users have the option to remove stories, or expand them by clicking the star icon which appears in the top right corner of every story. These starred items become Featured Stories, and, depending on the content, can become just as visually attractive to users as a Cover. The most relevant feature of Timeline to brands is that different objects are represented in different sizes. Any object shared from another page within Facebook is featured more prominently than one shared from an external link, even if they are the same type of object.
When the objects are starred to become Featured Stories, the object originating from within Facebook is still a larger size:
Photos of any kind and Facebook videos are the most prominently displayed pieces of content on the Timeline. When played, videos become the largest and most visually appealing pieces of content on the page, no matter where they originate. In order to optimize content for Timeline sharing, brands would do well to upload their videos, photos and articles directly to Facebook. In this way, Facebook encourages users to explore content without being drawn away from the site.
Gestures: A New Language for Facebook Sharing on the Open Graph
The Like button was often lamented as a constraining Facebook feature because it was an implicit endorsement of content.ii This often prevented users from taking any sharable actions. At F8, however, Facebook eliminated this constraint with the launch of Open Graph, a new way to share everything on the web in any way users would like. This new integration of Facebook enables app developers to create more actions beyond the Facebook Like to be offered across the web. Facebook calls these new verbs “Gestures.” Facebook has already divided the types of apps that will be built on its new Open Graph into four categories: Communication, Gaming, Media and Lifestyle. These apps allow users to share everything they are doing---whether it is listening to a song, reading an article or cooking a new food--- in real time on Facebook. iii The Apps are surprisingly simple; all they really do is define new ways for a user to express how they interacted with something online and share it with their friends. The result is a post in the Facebook ticker, an update in the app box on the user’s Timeline profile, and an update to the App View page, where all friends with the App can see what their friends have shared. These posts are pretty much like this:
In the above scenario, a user finds a recipe on a website and decides to cook it. Instead of clicking a Facebook Like button on the website and forgetting about it, the user clicks on “cook” button next to the recipe and shares the action on Facebook.
Take Advantage of Gestures and Indentify Your Objects Sharable objects are identified by embedding your app on the specific pages that contain them.iv In the previous example, the recipe content on the page was the object, so it would just need to be connected with the app by adding the programming code to the page. To make things easier for your web developer, you can decide which pieces of content you’d like to have shared by users on Facebook and define the action for how they will express that sharing (for example, a recipe is cooked; a hotel could be booked or visited). Each app can include multiple objects, but only one action. To keep all of your actions and objects straight, here’s a helpful chart to fill in for your web developer:
App Action (“Verb”)
<Link to recipe URL>
URL source for Object
<Link to Turkey Photo URL>
These sharable actions are posted in real time on the Facebook Activity Ticker, the App View (shared with other friends who have the app), and will be collected and grouped in the app box located on the user’s Timeline profile. With one click of a button, objects from your website will instantly be posted in three different places on Facebook. Brands would do well to take advantage of this functionality. By defining new actions instead of the “like” you may also see an increase in how many users take action in real life with content on your page. Just by having a “cook” button, for example, more people may be interested in taking out the frying pan and giving a recipe a try.
Introducing Real-time Serendipity on Your Facebook Home Page
“People have things that they want to share but they don’t want to annoy their friends by putting boring stuff in their News Feeds. Our solution is to create a new place that’s lighter weight where you can see lighter stuff that’s going on. That’s how we came up with Ticker.” – Mark Zuckerberg, F8 2011
In addition to the big changes on personal profiles, Facebook has also altered the look and feel of the Home page News Feed. The addition of the activity feed, also known as the “Ticker,” enables users to share content in real-time. In other words, you can do what your friends are doing, when they’re doing it, and be able to talk about it from the home page. This shifts the user experience from searching for content and activities to discovering it from their friends. Mark Zuckerberg calls this shift from search to discovery “real-time serendipity.”
Has Facebook Outdone Twitter? It’s hard not to draw comparisons between the Facebook Ticker and Twitter, but what about the Facebook feed and search redesign as a whole? Here’s a quick look at the features of both social giants:
Real time sharing? Mobile Optimized? Activity Sharing? Ability to Comment on Activity? Yes Yes Yes, through Open Graph Apps Yes, directly on activity in the homepage.
Yes Yes Yes, through auto-shared tweets No, but you can send a reply that is visible on your Twitter wall and theirs. No No, links take you to external sites. No
Ability to see all Comments on Activity? Ability to join activity without leaving social network? Activity patterns recognized and shared?
Yes Yes, videos and music play in Facebook. Yes, and they graduate to News Feed for longer sharing time. Yes Yes Yes, shares appear in comment section.
Ability to Subscribe to users? Ability to Tag Users in a Post? Ability to track shares of your post?
Yes Yes Yes, number of Re-Tweets appear below post Yes (but a friend filter is more difficult to apply). No event function, hash tags are used to identify events. No group function. No Yes
Ability to search for keywords in public posts Yes, filter is easily and friends’ posts? applied. Ability to search for keywords in public event page forums? Ability to search for keywords in public group page forums? Ability to search for keywords in personal profile information made public? Ability to set up search streams for keywords in Hoot Suite? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Use Facebook Search to Promote Positive Brand Mentions And Engage New Customers With the addition of the Subscribe function and the ability to make your posts public or private, Facebook has enabled users to search for keywords shared publically from 800 million active user profiles, groups, events and apps. Because these posts are public, anyone can comment on them. This sparks a huge opportunity for brands on Facebook that didn’t exist before.
For example: a brand wants to see how many people are discussing their latest product. By doing a keyword search in Facebook, they’ll be able to find positive and negative mentions of their brand, and respond to those posts to engage users. This kind of proactive social behavior can prevent the spread of negative mentions, and can delight and surprise customers who didn’t know the brand was listening to their opinions. Additionally, when a brand comments on a user’s post, all of the user’s friends can see it. This kind of conversation sharing can spread virally--- making more users aware of and interested in your brand.
Introducing the Era of Engagement in Digital Advertising
Facebook has become notorious for having a low click-through rate for display advertising.v To fix this, the social network is working to de-emphasize the importance of click-through rates in advertising and instead focus on engagement. At Advertising Week, Facebook unveiled two important new services: the expandable ad unit and an overhaul of the Page Insights dashboard. The new expandable ad unit is similar to Sponsored Stories but with one key difference: it allows users to like, comment and see other likes and comments related to the ad. The new ad unit will never appear in the News Feed and will also contain an advertiser’s message. vi This change in the Facebook ad unit is based on the belief that ads with recommendations from friends will be more effective than standard display ads and magnify a brand’s reach. The measurement of this reach has been expanded in Facebook’s second new service: the Page Insight’s “Talking about This” feature.
Look who’s Talking: The Big Overhaul to Facebook Page Insights Brand pages are now equipped with a feature titled “People Talking about This” which appears publically under the Page’s number of Likes. This is a measurement of the number of people who have created what the site calls a “story about your page” in the past seven days--- and according to Facebook’s guide to Page Insights, this includes anyone who has: • • • • • • • Liked your page Liked, commented on, or shared your page post Answered a question you’ve asked Responded to your event Mentioned your page Tagged your page in a photo Checked-in or recommended your place
Essentially, this is a measurement of total active engagement. Since it has been widely reported that 90% of Page Likes are non-engaging users (or “lurkers”) a healthy number of people talking about your page can be a pretty low percentage of your total fans. Looking at the top consumer brands on Facebook, the number of “people talking about this” is somewhere between 0.5 – 2% of the total number of fans. If you are scoring higher than 2% on your engagement levels, you are probably providing the right kind of content for your fans. On the new Insights dashboard, some great new metrics have been revealed for brands. Now available is the number of users a brand can potentially reach through friends of fans. This metric gives you an idea of your potential audience when fans engage and share your posts.
The Weekly Total Reach is an exciting metric that allows you to see the number of times someone has been exposed to your Page through a post, a friend commenting, or through an advertisement. You’ll be able to see the percentage change over time, so if you see that your fans are going up but your reach is going down, you may need to think about creating more engaging content. Facebook post analytics have been expanded substantially to show the engagement scores of a Page’s last 500 posts.
Post analytics are measured by: • Reach: the total number of people who saw the post. • Engaged Users: people who interacted with the post in some way, such as clicking on the post in their news feed or leaving a comment. • Talking About This: the number of people who have created a story from your post, such as leaving a reply or sharing with friends. • Virality- expressed as the percentage of people that created a story about a post against the total reach of that post. Metrics can then be expanded upon to get more in depth insights. Clicking on ‘reach’ shows a breakdown of whether reach came directly from Page activity, Facebook Ads, or whether it was viral (from fans generating stories).
Expansion of the ‘engaged users’ metric displays Link clicks, Other clicks (or clicks on non-link parts of the post, such as the name of the person that posted it) and the number of stories generated from the post by fans.
‘Talking about this’ is broken down on post analytics to show whether the user-generated stories came from someone liking or sharing the post.
Also included in the new insights is an improvement of Like Sources. Now Pages can track in more detail where they are getting the most conversions. Detailed like sources include the Page, News Feed or Ticker, the Like Box and Like Button, Mobile, Facebook Recommendations, Third-Party Applications, Ads and Sponsored Stories, etc.
Demographics have been redefined by who Pages reached as opposed to the total number of Likes. This allows Pages to focus on their potentially active fans and non-fans that could be converted.
Reach metrics have also been broken down to display how users were exposed to a page. This shows the number of organic, paid, viral (meaning through their friends) and total reach. If, for example, a Page has higher reach through ads, the organic content on the page should be improved.
Another new measurement given on Insights charts unique users by frequency which shows the average number of times someone saw a piece of content from the page. This helps administrators see how many users are being reached multiple times by the Page.
By paying attention to these great new measurement tools on their Pages’ Insights, brands will be able to optimize their content to the preferences of their users. The brands that succeed will be the champions of user engagement. Half of great engagement by brands is great listening.
Understanding the New Facebook: Strategies for Brands
“For every major evolution of the product that we’ve ever done, the profile is at the center. People feel an intense ownership over their profile.” -Mark Zuckerberg
With all of these foundational changes, new tools and metrics, it is easy to become overwhelmed. However, think about how over 800 million Facebook users will feel when the Timeline suddenly appears on their personal profile! Many users have already been complaining that Facebook is becoming too complicated vii and stating they are upset by the changes. Now is the chance for brand pages to ease the transition for users. At its minimum, the Timeline profile offers users the chance to tell their life-stories on a public, virtual scrapbook. These users will need help finding a Cover photo to express themselves, will be curious about sharing their online activity through social apps and will be scrolling through their new profiles to decide which stories from their past they should hide and which they should feature. They’ll also be seeking out visually striking content from friends and brands to add as new featured stories. Brands should embrace beauty and focus on producing the content that will be the most visually striking on user Timeline profiles. They should explore social apps with their users and listen to feedback in order to improve the new Open Graph experience on brand websites. With a focus on personal branding, users may be looking for help, so brands should take advantage of the opportunity by offering albums of Cover photos for fans to explore. The main thing for brands to understand about the new Facebook is that it is one moment in an endless line of changes that will continue for the Social Media industry. There is nothing to gain from resisting change. However, there will be advantages to preparing for and anticipating the future of user experiences.
The Next Step: Anticipating Brand Timelines
As the expression of social media shifts to visual stories and patterns of behavior, brands will need to model their messaging to relate to this new Social Identity. Here are a few ways to prepare your brand for a Timeline page format: 1. Define your message by telling your brand story. Decide upon ten key events in your brand’s history that help to frame your message. 2. Find the largest, most appealing photos to express those ten key events and write your story as captions to these photos. 3. Post as if you have the Timeline view, today. Now more than ever, users will be looking for timely posts about current events. When your brand page is switched over to a Timeline view, make sure that you’re creating a continued story about your brand and its relationship to the rest of the world. 4. Share more content originating from Facebook. If you have a YouTube presence, upload those videos into the Facebook video tab to ensure they get larger viewing space on user timelines when they are shared. 5. Monitor your Page Insights. With the fabulous new measurement tools, you can evaluate which type of content is engaging and which is not. Improve the user experience on your Page by listening to what your fans want.
http://www.myfbcovers.com Parr, Ben. “How Facebook Will Fix Its Like Button Problem.” Mashable. September 22, 2001. http://mashable.com/2011/09/22/facebook-gestures/. iii Facebook Developers: Open Graph Beta. https://developers.facebook.com/docs/beta/ iv Facebook Developers: Open Graph Key Concepts. https://developers.facebook.com/docs/beta/opengraph/ v Wasserman, Todd. “Facebook Says It’s Looking Beyond Click-Throughs.” October 1, 2011. http://mashable.com/2011/10/01/facebook-click-throughs/. Ingram, Mathew. “Can Facebook convince advertisers to forget about clicks?” Gigaom. October 7, 2011. http://gigaom.com/2011/10/07/can-facebook-convince-advertisers-to-forget-aboutclicks/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OmMalik+%28GigaOM%3A+Tech %29. vi Wasserman, Todd. “Facebook Introduces Expandable Ad Unit.” October 2, 2011. http://mashable.com/2011/10/02/facebook-expandable-ad-unit/. vii IBTimes Staff Report. “Survey Shows People Upset Over Facebook Changes.” September 24, 2011. http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/219333/20110924/facebook-changes-timeline-ticker-disapprove-markzuckerberg.htm.