Facebook recently announced it would begin approving new open graph actions submitted by developers — like is an action, and so are share and listen with.
Could open graph actions rocket your business into another dimension? It’s hard to know, because it’s so new that we don’t even know how to think about it.
So I enlisted the help of Momentus Media Co-Founder Chris Turitizin to brainstorm about how actions could be used for Facebook marketing.
Frictionless Sharing Means Super Virality
One of the things we know about viral marketing is that it requires two things: a click and a share. We had use interesting compelling content to get both, but the fact that there were two actions required made it harder to achieve the viral effect. What a custom action will do for you is basically eliminate one obstacle- since you only opt-in to an action once, every following action you take is automatically shared with all your friends.
Frictionless sharingt means eliminating obstacles to viral marketing. That’s why Spotify is so viral and so many people are using it (and 2.5 million are actually paying for it). What if you could do the same thing for your business?
“This isn’t for everyone,” said Turitizin. Not every business can be made viral. In fact, many businesses have trouble figuring out how to get people to talk about them at all. But some types of businesses stand to benefit more from custom actions.
I think shopping will be number one. We know that sharing products is hard to get people to do.” Your shopping activity is boring. You don’t really want to share with all your friends that you’re looking at a North Face Jacket. I think we’re moving toward experiential shopping… beautiful pictures you can share, stories about using products, the hottest fishing rod of the year… you could have a Facebook story that “John Smith is ogling the hottest fishing rod of the year.” This kind of story about activity could be for any webpage on your site. The only thing is you have to get people to accept permissions. And that means it has to be exceptionally cool. Think about the showroom floor, make it a special production, use a discount as an incentive. This will open-graphify your website.
“The programming for this kind of thing isn’t cheap- we’re talking 5 or 6 figure projects,” said Turitizin.
Other applications for custom FB actions include anything where people are consuming content like music, articles and movies. “Activity tracking could work, too. Running, cycling, driving – any company with products related to these activities, like powerbar or gatorade, could use it,” said Turitin. Imagine Gatorade creates a special website for cycling, draws in famous cyclists, and challenges you to cycle more.
Another phenomenon that struck me while writing Facebook Marketing was how The Big Lebowski page takes people who are watching a movie alone and makes it social.
The question is, what do people do alone that isn’t but could be socialized? “This could bring together asynchronous activities. What if you have a running partner but you run at different times?” Facebook can help us stay connected even when our schedules and other life demands try to drive us apart.
Think about how you’ve been able to send in cereal boxtops for charity. What if a company’s custom action led them to make a donation every time you used it? Imagine if Exxon made a donation to wildlife preservation everytime you used their custom drive action. John Smith is driving from Dallas to Houston — and Exxon just donated $1 to wildlife preservation! You know how at Whole Foods you can use your own bags? They could have an action that says ‘John Smith just saved 3 percent of a tree. He has saved 4.2 trees this year!mI think McDonald’s Monopoly could be gamified too. What if you could play their monopoly game with your friends? Also, physical experiences like Disneyland rides or cruises could use this.
It occurred to me also that some conferences already scan your badge when you walk into a session. If you had already accepted permissions for their attending action, just walking in could create the story,”John Smith is attending Cutting Edge Facebook Tactics at The AllFacebook conference.”
Just keep in mind that for people to like sharing something, it has to be flattering, unique and invoke curiosity or interaction. I think in 2012 the focus of Facebook marketing will move to the quality and quantity of shares, not fans. The question is what can we get people sharing?
Since you can create sponsored stories for app activities (and Facebook just announced that sponsored stories will begin to show in the news feed as well), just having an active app and actions is a huge advantage for brands.
I hope this gives you a better idea of the landscape of custom Facebook actions. I look forward to seeing what you create!
Brian Carter is the author of The Like Economy: How Businesses Make Money On Facebook and Facebook Marketing: Leveraging Facebook’s Features For Your Marketing Campaigns.