Putting Into Practice: Facebook Open Graph

This is a guest post from Jon Eccles, product manager of social integration at Thismoment, an enterprise platform for digital experience marketing. The platform has tools for integrating Open Graph and deploying other campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more.

Facebook Open Graph is a framework that connects anything and everything in any way you want; but with this power, comes responsibility.

Marketers must remember that people go to Facebook to interact with their friends, not to be bombarded with marketing campaigns. While brand marketers spend time and marketing dollars to raise awareness for their brands by posting to Facebook, they often overlook the fact that social is about the conversation.

Enter Open Graph action publishing, which allows users to post their activities and react to their friends’ actions. The popularity of Open Graph can’t be disputed — in July 2012, Mark Zuckerberg said that 1 billion pieces of content are shared via Open Graph every day. Since Open Graph was launched, companies like Spotify have seen tremendous growth, in part, due to the fact that users can share all of the actions that they take on their Timeline and friends’ Ticker and News Feed.

What makes Open Graph especially interesting from a marketing perspective is that it allows people to connect to friends through your brand. This article will take a look at the pain points associated with social word of mouth marketing and provide information on how you can leverage Open Graph to create compelling conversations around your brand.

Marketers are well aware of the pain points of social word of mouth marketing:

  • Users don’t share enough
  • What’s being shared isn’t interesting enough to entice high engagement rates
  • It’s hard to tell how sharing affects KPIs

Facebook Open Graph: Where to Get Started

Here are some ways to use Open Graph publishing to overcome these pain points: Think about your actions/objects/aggregations “Liking” anything, including a brand, on Facebook may demonstrate interest from an end user, but it fails to describe the engagement in any meaningful way. The revelation behind Open Graph stems from its flexibility. What’s more likely to pique the curiosity of your friends? The fact that you “Like a movie”, or that you “rated Raiders of the Lost Ark 4.5 stars.” By allowing any set of verbs (“watch”, “rate”, “kickpunch”, etc.) to be paired with any objects (movies, photos, kittens, submarines), you can curate how a user’s activity with your brand is published to their Timeline and the rest of Facebook. As these actions are published, the user is not bothered with interstitial dialogs or call-to-action share buttons. The story is the engagement.

The number one rule behind the effective use of Open Graph: actions and objects should improve user experience. To do this, focus on actions that imply what a user is enjoying, consuming, or plans to engage with further and associate strong imagery with your content to make users want to share more.

Build frontend and backend tools for publishing, analytics

Employ aggregation to tell Facebook about patterns that should be surfaced amongst users’ activity. Properties and frequency of activity can be used to surface stories about your friends. For example, if a bunch of friends watched a movie by the same director on NetFlix, this is more interesting, more telling about the users, and a better call to action than one person watching a movie.

Submit your Open Graph actions for approvals

The verbs cannot be abusive or malicious. “Kill” is not an approved verb if it were connecting to another user, but context matters with the behavior of your application in Open Graph. “Kill” in a volleyball app, may be ok. Currently, submitting for approval is a manual process.

Research a template, out-of-the-box tool

By leveraging a tool that will enable you to integrate Open Graph into your web presence without any extra effort, you will be able to focus in on defining creative actions/objects and leave the heavy lifting to your technology platform.

Since the announcement of Facebook Open Graph one year ago, marketers have been searching for ways to enable Facebook’s nearly one billion users to seamlessly share their brand experiences, but the technical complexity involved has been cost and time prohibitive. Large-scale brands have taken advantage of out-of-the box tools to help run extremely successful and innovative Open Graph campaigns.

For example, we worked with a well-known retailer on a “Back to School” video contest, which encouraged teens to share their plans for the upcoming school season through a video. Entrants could authorize their submissions with Facebook via the Open Graph Prompt Tray which increased the virality of the contest by enabling people to easily get involved with the brand experience and share it with friends. Users could also browse through submissions and vote for their favorite entries. As this example illustrates, with careful planning and execution, marketers have the potential to exponentially increase their brand’s reach, and also boost the virality of the content and its engagements.

Jonathan Eccles was born and raised in the bay area. He spent his childhood watching the tech bubble rise and burst before attending Stanford University for interdisciplinary bachelor’s and graduate degrees that combined music, computer science, electrical engineering, and physics. Seeing many of his friends move on to top positions at Facebook and other small (at the time) start-ups, Jonathan opted instead to pursue music for four years as a composer/performer and audio technology product manager, but soon after joined his colleagues in the tech world by becoming Thismoment’s Facebook Technical Lead. 
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