As companies try to strengthen their presence on Facebook and attract users (or “Fans”) to engage with their products, Involver has launched a new set of applications that businesses can easily add to their Facebook Pages. According to a blog post by the interactive marketing vendor, Involver can integrate streams of content “in a matter of minutes” from a company’s Twitter account, YouTube channel, and RSS news feeds (to name a few) onto its Facebook public profile.
Involver has used Us Weekly’s Facebook public profile, where many of these apps have been implemented, as a poster child to lure potential clients to the product. The implementation received notoriety because Involver helped the magazine set up a spot within the public profile’s main News Feed to push sponsored (paid) content from State Farm Insurance.
The technology itself could help companies who want to set up automatic feeds into their Facebook public profiles, making the product especially attractive to traditional media companies who want to see Facebook users read (and share) more of their content across the social network. The product provides another avenue in which these media companies might utilize Facebook to monetize their content.
Us Weekly, which to date only claims just shy of 4,000 Facebook Fans to its public profile, might not be the beacon of potential for where implementations like this could yield big dividends for media companies, however. As Nat Ives of AdAge noted:
If the approach takes hold, imagine what sponsorships could mean for Facebook pages belonging to The New York Times page, with 447,749 fans so far; National Geographic, with 453,013 fans; or even ABC’s “Lost,” with 785,093 fans.
Involver won’t be the only company looking to monetize Facebook public profiles. One upstart, the San Diego-based Status Plug, has been focused on finding ways to connect advertisers with Facebook Page administrators. The company hopes advertisers will pay a fee to have a status update published into a public profile’s News Feed or Wall. The status update may contain video, audio, images, text and links to that advertiser’s product.
“[Facebook Pages] Admins set their own price and they can choose what ads they publish,” Carson Mehl, Status Plug’s founder, told Inside Facebook. “I think this will keep the quality of the ads at a high level.”
However, Facebook users are more likely to un-fan public profiles publishing spammy status updates.
Any ideas for monetization on top of Facebook Pages seems favorable for both the companies looking to increase the usefulness of their public profiles and for Facebook itself, since it provides troves of content that might entice people to spend more time on Facebook (instead of elsewhere on the Web). Facebook can then derive revenue through its existing ad products and by directing traffic to public profiles as it currently does today.
For companies with Facebook public profiles, especially media organizations, we see no downside to the arrangement (as long as the sponsorship is integrated fittingly with users’ expectations). However, companies should realize Facebook could ask for revenue sharing in the future, should the company encounter more pressure from its investors to dispense with its “site growth before revenue” strategy.
Ad firm upstarts looking to build an entire business model — or a majority of it — upon this technology should be careful. The early iterations of the Facebook platform and how it affected developers taught everyone in the ecosystem a valuable lesson: Redesigns or sudden distribution rule changes can alter the Facebook landscape overnight.