One of the goals of Facebook's most recent redesign was for brand pages to be more seamlessly integrated into the stream of social interaction on the site. The changes essentially allow brands to assimilate into the general Facebook population by having profile pages like other users, status updates and the ability to pop up in fans' news feeds.
Now marketers are starting to capitalize on the upgraded Facebook Pages, rechristened "public profiles," to weave their brands in the site's social framework. Among the new features is the ability to distribute applications directly from brand pages rather than via Facebook ads or viral means.
Anheuser-Busch is taking advantage of the feature in its new Bud Light page with an application that allows people to send branded virtual gifts to friends as part of its "Drinkability" campaign. Through custom tabs on the page, users can access and send virtual gifts revolving around holidays and special events such as Cinco de Mayo, birthdays and graduation.
When someone gets the virtual Bud Light gift, it appears on their Wall and will then be seen in the news feeds of all the recipient's friends, potentially exposing the brand to new groups of people every time a gift is sent. It also helps drive people back to the Bud Light page to send a return gift, view Bud Light TV commercials, get branded wallpapers or become a brand "fan."
In the first few weeks since the new Bud Light page went up, more than 2,500 people have become fans.
"Using virtual gifts to deliver brand messaging is proving to be an effective tactic in social network advertising," noted Matt Holliday, in a post about the Bud Light program on Inside Facebook. "The best thing about branded virtual gifts is they're a rare form of advertising that people actually like to receive."
New York-based Buddy Media, which developed the Bud Light application, last month began a program focused specifically on helping companies upgrade their Facebook pages in connection with the site's redesign. "Anything you can do with an application you can now do within a tab on one of these brand pages," said Michael Lazerow, the company's CEO.
Buddy Media is managing the public profiles on Facebook for about 20 clients including Schwab, Intel and Reebok, which are in the process of retooling their pages. In addition to virtual gifting, Lazerow said a range of social apps can be incorporated into brand pages including quizzes, polls, graffiti and photo-uploading.
"These applications have to be fully integrated with the global marketing strategy, but it's really about getting brand spread through people's news feeds," said Lazerow. The revamped public profiles allow marketers to maintain a catalog of apps instead of each being just a one-off project.
To help further steer traffic to brand pages, Facebook recently began suggesting brands and businesses that users may like, similar to its "People You May Know" feature. The suggestions appear to be generated at least in part on popularity. Among the top public profiles on Facebook are those of Barack Obama, Coca-Cola, Facebook itself, and Pringles.