Today’s Facebook Marketing Conference included presentations of timeline for pages, the Reach Generator, ads on mobile devices, real-time page insights, logoff page ads. Here’s what people in the industry are saying about these topics.
Keep checking back, as we keep updating this post with reactions from top executives in the industry.
Senior Director of Product Marketing Roland Smart, Sr.
The key to success here is that brands must first generate quality stories that can be promoted. You can think of it as a funnel if that helps, brands have conversations through publishing and monitoring which in theory should generate some valuable content to fill the top of the funnel. A small selection of that content that drives solid organic interaction trickles down for further distribution via sponsored stories.
Facebook framed this transition in context of an uber-narrative about how the stories that shop keepers used to have with customers got lost in the age of advertising (broadcast the same message to everyone) and now Facebook is swinging the pendulum back in the other direction by allowing brands to share stories with customers at scale.
So how are brands going to generate these stories? One way is to have Involver’s Social Markup Language-powered applications that drive content into the Timeline via custom verbs. The Super Bowl project was a great example of this because it pushed a ton of “ranked” messages into the feed. These created a viral response that was further amplified and promoted with sponsored stories.
The SML case gets really exciting when you consider that we can generate this content from across the open web. That’s a big deal and is only going to get bigger.
Facebook continues to deliver amazing and innovative services to market, but they are NOT focused on the enterprise requirements that we support at Involver. From very basic things like scheduling posts to more complex things like delivering applications, Brands rely on third party developers like Involver. Every single brand example shown on stage was powered by a third party platform.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer Reggie Bradford
The new timeline feature for brands is a huge improvement over the old page format — it’s a much more visually engaging destination for consumers to spend time exploring a brand, literally from their founding to present. But content is still king, maybe even more so.
In our research, we’ve found that great content in the form of apps, videos, and photos has the highest engagement rates with consumers, and we’ve always encouraged our brands to embrace these content formats. And this rings true more than ever not only for getting into consumers’ news feeds, but for building out your timeline.
While it’s important to create this great content to make your page a more engaging destination, we believe it’s actually more important to create this content to make sure your brand message gets into the news feed. Our research shows that the news feed is 110 times more engaging than other objects, and it’s where the consumers are. Therefore, brands and marketers need to maintain their focus on creating content that gets into the news feed, especially given Facebook’s recent EdgeRank changes.
Facebook’s other announcements actually show how focused it is on helping brands gain value through the news feed, and how paid, owned, and earned are truly intersecting. Premium ad units, for example, will give brands the ability to increase the value in interactions with customers and further their own brand stories, sharing them seamlessly where it counts — whether that’s on smartphones, tablets, or on the Web.
Again though, it all comes back to importance of creating quality content to build a meaningful, engaging presence for your brand. Despite all the changes, content — strong, valuable, and engaging content — is still priority number one.
Chief Executive Officer Michael Lazerow
One of the biggest complaints I get from brand marketers about Facebook Pages is the lack of distribution of posts to fans. Today, content posted to Facebook pages reach only 16 percent of fans.
Facebook launched a new product, Reach Generator, that lets you pay money to guarantee that your posts get to at least 75 percent of your fans each month. This will double average reach. Engagement will more than double as more fans will engage, exposing the Posts to their friends, many of whom will also engage.
You’ve invested in fans. Invest in content to engage them. And invest in Reach Generator to guarantee distribution. This isn’t a new concept. You currently pay to send emails. Part of email service providers’ service is to guarantee that you are getting through. Facebook today just did the same for you. While you’re paying for distribution, you’re getting significantly more engagement. This engagement is “Facebook gold,” as I like to say. Your EdgeRank score will be juiced. And you will have many more “stories” to buy against using socially enabled ads.
The lines between what marketers now refer to as paid, owned and earned media are now officially gone. Goodbye. Gone. All ads in Facebook will begin as content posted to a page. There is no more creating separate Facebook ad copy. The content you publish to Facebook and the data associated with it is the front end of the ad system. You publish content, and whatever gets the most engagement, you are able to end up paying to distribute that further. People can like and engage with that content anywhere, whether on the Page post or in the ads. As Facebook said, “ads are more effective when they start from page posts.”
There are two general categories of ads on Facebook. The first are premium ads. These are bought directly from Facebook today. Facebook did not make any announcements about how they are bought and trafficked in the future but I expect to see changes to the current process in the future.
The second group of ads are Marketplace. These are the ads that appear on the right-hand side of your Facebook experience. These are bought directly through Facebook’s self-serve portal or, for many brands, through third-party ads API technology like Buddy Media’s.
Facebook announced that brands can now turn any post into a premium ad. The premium ads, instead of just appearing on the homepage, as they did in the past, actually appear in four places — news feed, right-hand side, mobile news feed and on the logout page.
This means two things for you: (1) you need to create awesome content for your page; and (2) people will tell you what your ad creative is, and you then need to monitor the data in real-time and make the right decisions about what to buy and when. (Buddy Media has an app for that!) Both of these are difficult but necessary, and there will be a shifting of resources within large marketing agencies.
We’re moving away from a world in which you create one version of an ad. In Facebook’s new world, people will tell you what they like by voting with their clicks, shares, likes and comments. You need to be prepared to buy distribution for the content that becomes most engaging to the right audience. You can no longer look at paid media as lifting weights alone. Paid ads need to join the group spinning session of content marketing and community management.
Adobe Digital Marketing
Kevin Barenblat, Strategy and Business Development, Social Platforms
Stop thinking of the Facebook page as a collection of separate apps and campaigns. Start thinking of the entire page as the campaign.
Long rumored and much anticipated, the new Facebook pages are similar to timeline and cover photo treatments found on Facebook profiles for users. But it’s actually much more than that.
- The layout, compared to the former page layout, is visually more interesting and provides significantly more real estate to brand a page.
- The tab structure (the navigation menu to other tabs on your Page under the profile picture) and default tab option have been eliminated in favor of a unified page experience that combines timeline events with wall posts, company information and applications.
- New features go beyond the wall and applications to give businesses more tools to spread brand messages, encourage engagement and facilitate direct interaction with the brand.
These are all opportunities to promote your campaigns in a way that encompasses not only new creative real estate but integrates the latest social endorsements from fans in the form of user posts, Likes, comments and shares – a.k.a. people talking about his. All of that now influences campaigns and their success, in real-time, in the same environment.
- Larger stories: The new format is a great opportunity for marketers to publish and feature multiple stories about a campaign using rich and engaging media formats like photos and videos, and then highlight important stories with a star icon.
- Milestones: This gives marketers the ability to publish new events or milestones to a company’s timeline as well as fill in gaps in the past with significant events and content – like “new car model” or “limited release celebrity shoe” or “hit 10,000 customers”. By publishing interesting content in engaging formats like photos or videos, marketers can drive further interest and engagement in the future long after a milestone has passed.
- Scheduling of posts: Marketers can now plan ahead and schedule posts for future publishing, which is perfect for announcing news like the phases of a contest and publish buzz messages to drive more entries and votes.
- Pinned post: Similar to sticky posts in online forums, marketers can now pin a post to the top of the timeline which is a great way to surface important campaign content and drive awareness and engagement with any people visiting the Page. A pinned post can stay pinned for up to seven days.
- Cover photo: This grand, new real estate is perfect for creative to advertise campaigns. And not only can the photos rotate for, say, the different phases of a contest, they can quickly be swapped out for the next campaign after that contest ends. The cover photo becomes artwork for the new “default tab”, the Page itself.
- Views and Apps: While one app campaign is being promoted front and center on a Page, marketers can still promote other campaigns and apps with visual logo art instead of text tab links right below the cover photo. This should assist app discovery and views.
- Friend activity: As your campaign progresses and people talk about it, stories including Likes, comments and mentions are surfaced on the Page. Facebook has integrated user wall posts more organically with other Page elements.
- Messages: As a campaign progresses, people can message a brand directly with questions about the campaign without leaving the Facebook environment and marketers can directly respond up to two times per user. This will help promote stickiness and increase engagement rates. The brand can only respond to a user when the person messages the page first.
- Real-time insights: And most importantly, you can now access data and metrics for engagement on your Page so you can quickly adjust your campaign to maximize the audience you’re reaching, the number of entries and votes you are getting, and the volume of stories and viral sharing around your campaign and brand.
What’s it mean for marketers?
These new features can all be used separately to drive reach, story generation and engagement across the Facebook fan base, but really it’s about the power of these features combined that will turn the Facebook Page into the campaign. Whereas campaigns had limited real estate on tabs within the former Page format, branding is now organically integrated into the overall environment and along with it, all the stories generated by fans.
What Do Marketers Do Now? Grab social marketers, community managers, designers and app developers, web analysts, PR managers and digital marketers and brainstorm how to take advantage of the new environment and features to develop a more cohesive and expressive awareness for brands and campaigns right on the Facebook Page.
Reexamine app strategy and experiment with app discovery. Find ways to focus the experience in the simplified Page and identify what kind of apps drive the most engagement for a brand and customers, including campaign-based, single-use apps like contests or polls and/or more evergreen apps that encourage engagement on a daily or regular basis.
Revisit best practices on publishing, app strategy and campaign management based on real-time insights and analytics. Can teams respond as quickly to changes in social performance as the SEM team can? Now the data exists to do so and can mean success or failure for social initiatives that rely on capitalizing on trends and people’s behavior and interests.
Executive Strategy Director Sav Banerjee
With the launch of timeline for brand pages, there will be a bit of a panic in many a marketing department while community managers and strategists scramble to instantly master the learning curve for the new platform. Almost all large brands have a Facebook presence and significant investments have been made into this platform, not to mention its purpose as one of the largest communication networks on the Web.
The crux, then, is how nimble brands and their agencies can be in seamlessly transitioning current campaigns and strategies to timeline. The transition burden will fall most heavily on creative and user experience professionals. New dimensions and layout look means page design overhauls (especially with the cover photo), as well as the prioritization and potential consolidation of existing tabs, as only two can be featured “above the fold,” with the loss of the left sidebar navigation.
To empower and inspire brands to shift to, and innovate around the Timeline platform, Facebook should create a “playbook” of sorts, perhaps in tandem with the Facebook Marketing Conference, to help brands understand the implications of the new platform before the full roll-out on March 30.
Perhaps most importantly, this next step in Facebook evolution will provide a true opportunity for brands to integrate their own histories and brand evolution into a compelling, dynamic Timeline – further educating fans in a customizable, intuitive way that outstrips “old” Facebook, and traditional advertising.
Managing Director Will Ashton
By its design and scope, Facebook timeline increases the opportunity for open dialogue and allows users to share content more than ever before. When we apply this to brands, we’re presented with a fantastic opening to build on existing relationships with users through tools such as sponsored stories.
Sponsored stories are already hitting the mark for brands, and this will continue to increase once we see brands move onto timeline. It will be a particularly valuable tool for brands that have a back story to tell, such as a sports team that can list past achievements or team members, or an automobile manufacturer that can plot the history of car launches.
As more brand content becomes available through timeline and users begin to interact more and more through new tools such as sponsored stories and custom edges, the potential for brands is extremely significant.
The new ad formats will provide brands with an even more compelling way of marrying up a brand’s Facebook ad executions with its content. The freedom to create interactive ads, much like the activity that currently takes place on a brand’s page, brings premium ads in line with the development of marketplace ads over the last 12 months.
This level of flexibility — building on the various iterations of sponsored story ad formats we’ve seen recently — is what will really show brands the benefit of Facebook advertising. We’ve already seen that through intelligent use of formats such as sponsored stories, brands can expect a significant uplift in engagement from users, and a move toward interactive premium ads will only see this increase.
Social advertising, and Facebook advertising in particular, is fast becoming the go-to tool for marketers in the social space, and we anticipate that this move to premium ads will drive a significantly increased adoption rate of Facebook ads as part of the media mix.
The change actually hurts brands. Here are a few reasons why:
- Adding a giant graphic to the top of your page may help you make your page look nice, but that graphic does not drive any action that benefits your business. Instead, it pushes all of the engagement elements further down the page. It gives brands less control over what interactive experiences they are offering to their audience.
- “Highlight what matters” is supposedly a benefit where you can now pin one post to the top of your page that you want your audience to see. The question still remains: How many of your fans are actually visiting your page in the first place? Statistics prove time and again that people do not return to a Facebook fan page once they’ve liked the brand. If they did not return to fan pages that had unique engaging experiences such as polls, contests, and interactive experiences, why would they return to a page that looks like every other page on Facebook?
- “Private messages” — in this release, Facebook added a “benefit” to brands that enables them to respond directly to fans who send them a private message. There is a big “message” button at the top of their pages. The problem with this is that for popular brands, it will generate thousands of messages per day, with many of them being pure spam. Who has the time or resources to sort through this mess to dig out the few comments that might be valuable? What brands really want is to be able to gain insight across their entire audience so that they can reach out to people who are engaging with their content, not just the people that opt to message them.
- Facebook’s timeline is not designed for brands. At best, it is designed to showcase a “timeline” of a person’s life experience. For many brands, this concept does not translate. Brands, however human we try to make them, are not people. The story you want to tell about your brand today may be night and day from the story you told last year. What matters is your brand today, but Facebook’s timeline focuses on the past as much as the present.
- Facebook’s Timeline encourages showcasing spam. Brands who want to allow their audience to comment on posts will find that they have hundreds of spam posts that are displayed prominently in their community. This requires a huge amount of resources to manage, deleting comments that are spam or worse, so the quality comments can bubble up on the profile.
I’ve been checking out the new Facebook profiles for pages, and have noticed that they have done away with the welcome pages. If you go to my Giveaway Tab application, you can see that you are taken to the welcome page. I have attached two pictures — one with settings from the new profile with no option for default landing tab, and one with the old with the option. A lot of pages used this default landing tab to get people to like their page.
Chief Executive Officer Clara Shih
The new Facebook pages brand timeline delivers an unprecedented opportunity for brands to tell captivating stories that drive emotional connection with customers. We are thrilled to have a presence at FMC today, unveiling full integration and product support for Facebook page brand timeline as a core part of the Hearsay Social platform. For the first time, brands will be able to engage their audiences with timely, authentic conversations from the corporate brand to local, driving customer loyalty through every level of your organization. It’s an exciting day for marketers.
Chief Executive Officer Don Beck
Driving engagement on Facebook through timeline is going to be central to success on the platform. SML (Social Markup Language) supports this with seamless integration of verbs that drive content into the stream. Combined with new ad products that are designed to amplify this content this will be a powerful pre-IPO boost for brands on the platform.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael Scissons
There are three key takeaways from today’s release:
- With the introduction of the timeline, brands need to make use of the new tools to move from tactical status updates to storytelling.
- Private messages create a new, improved channel for customer service through Facebook.
- Brands need to revisit the reduced role of custom page tabs.
Brands can upgrade their pages as of today, although we’d recommend holding off until the implications are understood. Teams, plans, processes, and content will all need to be adapted prior to switching over. At the same time, don’t delay: Facebook has indicated that they will upgrade any remaining pages March 30.
Overall, timeline completely rethinks how content is both posted and consumed on the page. Rather than a stream of disconnected status updates, each slowly fading over time, timeline encourages storytelling and discovery much like a journal or scrapbook. As such, the basic building block of the page — the story (formerly known as the post) — is receiving a number of enhancements with this update.
Previously, providing effective customer support on Facebook was a challenge. Requests for help would often clutter the wall, inviting others to complain and making it difficult for brands to resolve the original issue. Private messages offer a much better experience for both brands and fans and should help keep the timeline focused on marketing, rather than customer support.
So, are these changes good for brands? We believe the answer is an unqualified “yes.”
First and foremost, these changes allow marketers to get back to what they do best: marketing. Through the timeline, brands can now tell their story — their humble beginnings, evolution through the years, memorable advertising campaigns, new products, major events — and invite naturally curious fans to scroll through the years. Not only will this build a deeper connection with fans, but, done properly, this historical record could unlock a very powerful force — nostalgia. As fans look to add to their own stories, they will share content from the page to their own timelines.
It isn’t yet clear if starring, pinning, or backdating a story will impact its graph rank, and, thus its delivery in the news feed. It also isn’t clear if milestones will carry increased importance. This is an area we will continue to study.
The opportunities for marketers on Facebook have never been brighter. As Facebook has cemented its leadership in most markets, having a presence on Facebook is no longer optional. And the brands that understand and take advantage of timeline for pages will build deeper, more productive relationships with the people who matter most — their customers.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer George DeCarlo
There are good things and bad things about the changes. At this point, we are telling customers not to upgrade. The bad outweigh the good. Facebook will not force the upgrade until March 30. Perhaps by then, the issues will be resolved.
Previously, page tabs were 520 pixels wide, but with the new layout, you have 810 pixels of content area to use. You can now set images up to 111 pixels by 74 pixels to promote your tab app. While they don’t fill up the entire tab area, the old-format, 520-pixel-wide tabs still display in the new format.
It appears that as part of the migration to the new layout, Facebook has removed the ability to automatically send a user to a specified tab application on your page. All users now see your wall, both fans and nonfans. It’s unclear if this is a permanent change or just an oversight, we’ll keep you posted.
No refresh on likes: This is a very big issue for running fan-gated promotions, and for this reason, I would recommend you do not upgrade to timeline for pages early. When a nonfan clicks like on your tab, currently Facebook does not refresh the page, so we cannot automatically show the new fan content. You would have to prompt the fan to refresh their page manually. It is hard to believe this won’t be fixed, but currently, it is the main reason not to upgrade.