Since 2004, Facebook has continued to pay dividends for marketers, enabling them to more directly interact with their customers and expand their brand reach. But just when marketers think they have it all figured out, Facebook ushers in a new era of social media. In fact, it is one of the most significant overhauls of the site since its inception in 2004.
Yet these new changes are leaving many marketing professionals with questions and uncertainty. Digesting and trying to determine how they make sense for their particular business places extra demands on their limited time and resources. Once businesses understand the ins and outs of the features, they’ll appreciate the impact.
Here’s a quick guide to four new features that are certain to deliver real business value:
Business Impact #1 – Use the Open Graph to Extend Reach
In 2010 Facebook launched the “Like” button so that individuals can show they like a particular Web page, and share it with their connections. Now Facebook provides a new way for businesses to extend their brand online. Instead of just clicking on “Like” for a we bpage, for example, users can now “Read” a book or “Watch” a movie. The picture below illustrates the Open Graph:
With these new actions, adding proper Open Graph tags to Web pages is more important than ever. Below is an example of the type of information included in these tags.
Businesses that take advantage of the Open Graph bring consumers closer to them than ever, capturing user’s habits, preferences and behaviors. This sets the foundation for more effective customer interactions.
Business Impact #2 - New Facebook Apps Revolutionize Sharing
Facebook recently launched a simple way to build applications to create these experiences (here are some tutorials). You can see an example of this sharing below:
Through this, Facebook makes it easier than ever to share and consume content across networks, even in real-time. If someone likes a certain product or feature pertaining to your business, it becomes more visible to their own connections. Businesses like Spotify are already taking advantage of this feature. In the example below, a friend has installed the Spotify Facebook application. I can now see the song he is listening to and play it myself.
With the expansion of the Open Graph and a new framework for Facebook applications, Facebook has now made it easier and faster for businesses to connect with people. It has reduced the barriers for people to share those connections with others, while extending brands in a more powerful way.
Business Impact #3 – Facebook Insights Help Track and Measure
Facebook Insights provides deeper insight, measurement and analysis into the impact of Facebook campaigns for a company:
This helps marketers better gauge the value of Facebook and other social media campaigns. It reveals what works best, and what doesn’t, to ensure more effective campaigns on an ongoing basis.
Business Impact #4 - Expanded Social Plugins Create New Experiences
Currently in the beta, Facebook also announced a Recommendations Bar serving two important functions:
The Recommendations Bar and other social plugins (click here for a list of social plugins) offer businesses a way to create a social experience beyond Facebook, carrying audiences to their Web site or other high-value external pages. In the end, it offers more opportunity for increasing brand awareness and content consumption.
With its recent changes, Facebook is advancing how its users interact online and how that translates into business benefits. Users have new ways to express themselves and create more opportunities to share online. Although these changes can initially be challenging to understand and implement, the long-term implications are clear: Facebook continues to be a great opportunity for businesses to broaden their reach, and create meaningful, long-lasting interactions with prospects and customers.