Monday, March 12, 2012
Last Wednesday in a packed house at the FMC, we learned new and exciting changes introduced to the way that brands can interact with Facebook users. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and VP of Product Chris Cox were among some of the other top Facebook executives sharing all of the new tools becoming available -- from sponsored stories in mobile newsfeeds to display advertising upon logging out of the social network.
What struck me as most interesting was the anticipated makeover of Facebook Fan Pages -- where they now sport a style similar to the recently revamped personal profile Timeline Pages. Some of the key features include a large cover photo, wider custom tabs with larger icons, and pinned posts -- and despite the typical period of disgruntled Facebook users after any sweeping UI change, Facebook's thoughtful changes will convert these folks soon enough.
All of this said, I think the overall framework provides a few key themes to watch:
- Facebook Tabs will become more engaging with increased real estate to design and less distractions. When on a single tab, there is nothing else on the screen to distract the user and pull them away (perhaps this will eventually change?). For now, I believe that each incremental visit to a tab will provide a higher probability of conversion than with the old design.
- Driving traffic to tabs will be more difficult to manage organically -- and more pivotal to success than before.
- All brands who focus time and energy and are capable of creating engaging content will benefit from Facebook in the future as they have in the past. However, organizations will now need to focus more resources on driving traffic -- whether that's buying Facebook ads, sponsored stories, or offers, sending email, or driving other web marketing tactics. This may present issues for smaller brands with smaller budgets -- but I don't think it leaves them dead in the water since they are typically more engaging with their smaller, hyper-local audiences (who are more likely to organically return to the page, anyway).
Despite all of the changes with Facebook, the biggest thing that I think many marketers continue to miss is the most basic piece of all -- what are you really trying to accomplish with Facebook? There are many, many marketers who I talk to without a core strategy on Facebook. They're overly worried about Facebook features like timeline and sponsored stories, or SocialPages features like fan-gated content or our drag'n'drop form builder, than they are about an actual strategy ... and they miss the point that these are all just tools which are available to them -- tools that can aid in the execution of a strategy that drives phenomenal business results!