These changes represent tremendous opportunity for marketers, especially for those brands marketing to teens. They're designed to take engagement and sharing to all new levels as users "express" themselves through what they play, watch, listen to, and share. Facebook is now letting fans go beyond the "Like," with their social activities, almost any activity, automatically and instantly shared. We know that teens, perhaps more than any other demo, define, identify, and even group themselves through the music they listen to, the places they go, the clothes they buy, and what they do for fun. Facebook's changes have essentially given teens a multimedia platform on which to effortlessly amplify and express who they are.
And that's where the opportunity comes in for brands. The changes are a perfect fit for teens and will resonate with them strongly. Teens spend the most time on social networks, led by Facebook. A Nielsen study (June 2011) showed that almost 80% of 12-17 year olds regularly visited social networks or blogs. Below are a few "best practices" marketers should keep in mind so they can get the most out of the "new" Facebook.
Content is King ...Now More Than Ever: The changes gave us a revamped news feed and a brand new Twitter-style Ticker. But competition to get into the feeds just got harder with the new "GraphRank" system. Marketers must place a renewed emphasis on content that's creative, relevant, interactive and genuine. Brands need every social marketing tool and technology they can get their hands on that will allow them to deliver cutting-edge content that's engaging, highly targeted and relevant. Content like photos, videos and wall apps will garner more interaction. The Nielsen study referenced earlier shows teens 13-17 are the heaviest mobile video users. Video is a highly engaging application, and teens are consuming it in droves.
The Ticker Offers a New Avenue: The Ticker is a real-time stream of what all of your connections are doing. It gives brands another outlet through which to reach users. But put on your Twitter hat, and make your posts short and incredibly catchy so they'll get noticed. Remember this generation grew up with texting and talking in bullet points. Long-winded messages will fall on deaf ears.
Sponsored Stories Just Got Better ... By Default: The new Facebook changes automatically make sponsored stories more relevant and genuine. Now, brands can take users' actions ("Mike is eating a Big Mac at McDonald's" or "Sara is shopping at The Gap" or "John is listening to Foo Fighters on iHeartRadio") and create authentic and actionable sponsored stories. This is crucial, because teens can smell an advertisement a mile away. But give them engaging content or ways to interact with your brand and the results give you a powerful "owned," "earned," and "paid" media combination.
Timeline Lets Teens Express Themselves: The Timeline lets users write their own multimedia autobiography with every social action they take. Never before has the "diary" concept been taken to such a degree that you can express yourself in whatever way you'd like, from birth to one minute ago. Teens are especially captivated by this concept, as they are exploring new things during some of the most social years of their lives. The desire to share these discoveries and experiences is an irresistible draw. Consequently, when they experience your brand, it had better be the kind of experience that they want to leave on their Timeline (where it's automatically placed). If you successfully achieve that, you become a permanent part of teens' social lives. That is powerful.
Brand Pages Coming Soon: We're talking about all the great new capabilities and opportunities on Facebook, and yet we haven't even seen the revamping of brand Pages yet, which you can bet are coming ... and most likely soon. Facebook executives have hinted that changes could be similar to Timeline. Perhaps you'll be creating the story of your brand's life in the near future. Imagine scrolling through the history of MTV and its personalities or McDonald's legacy and development through the years. Brands and Pages are also sure to benefit from the expanded social graph and new crop of social apps functionalities.
Bottom line: Relevant, targeted and interactive content, as well as custom-branded social apps, must now be a focus for brands. Almost 90% of all purchases are made due to peer recommendation. This is especially true for teens, who want to instantly share and express what "defines" them across their social web. Facebook is making those connections and interactions easier, more visible and more meaningful. And brands marketing to teens can to benefit.