As you probably know Facebook for brand pages is changing. On the 30th March 2012 Facebook brands pages will be switched over to the Timeline format whether they like it or not. This creates an immediate problem for brands that haven’t got their pages in order. For those that have, it’s an opportunity to create a better looking page than ever before by using an impressive cover photo and filling timelines with interesting content like company history, if of course, the company history is interesting.
Another implication of the new Facebook Timeline format for brands is that the traditional landing page, where brands often use a ‘like-gate’ and clumsily bribe potential fans for ‘exclusive competitions/offers/etc’, will soon be a thing of the past. This will mean that businesses will now have to think of more innovative ways to create engagement and encourage new fans to ‘like’. This is all very good, but we think the most significant issue facing brands on Facebook right now is that the free party will soon be over. With Facebook, valued at $100bn (IPO) according to Mashable, it is trying to bolster it’s advertising options.
Until now revenue generated by Facebook has come from the ads at the right hand side of the page, yeah, the ones you never look at. Facebook is introducing new options to improve the visibility of brands content. Updates on brand pages are currently only seen by a small section of its fans according to Utalkmarketing. Over the next few months, Facebook will be rolling out some new options for brand pages, in a bid to improve their reach. These include:
1. Reach Generator. With Facebook’s reach generator brands will be able to reach 75% of their fans, of course, providing the brands pay for it. “No longer can ‘great content’ win-out on its own.” according to Utalkmarketing.com This fixed fee service will ensure that 75% of the potential audience will see the message. However, this is expensive. Entrepreneur.com comments, “targeted at the deep pocketed big brands at present, it could offer a lower-cost option for smaller businesses in the weeks to come.”
2. Offers.These are cheap, in fact they are free! Very much like a status update and easy to create. Offers appear to be ideal for small businesses that want give their fans a discount or promotion. Once posted to the Timeline, fans can claim it and everyone is happy. However, from what I understand, the effectiveness of this offer will depend on point 1. (see Reach Generator) and point 3 (See Sponsored Stories).
3. Sponsored Stories. According to Mashable Facebook is “Hanging its future hopes on Sponsored Stories.” So what is it? Well, brands can pay Facebook to spotlight a certain update or offer. This is a departure from Facebook’s more traditional ad banner and much more sophisticated. Sponsored stories can boost traffic on Brands domains, drive ‘likes’ for a page or promote a post. Sponsored stories are engagement led, requiring fans to make an action for it to work, for example by ‘liking’ a page or post, using an app or checking in at a location. These peer endorsed adverts will be seen by friends of fans and should help build the brand and generate leads. Sponsored stories work on a pay-per-click basis and can be targeted at a specific demographic.
4. Premium packages. Finally, another new option for brand pages is to sign up for Facebook’s new premium service. This is a similar concept to the more traditional ad located on the side bar, although this option will allow your message to appear in more powerful places, including fans’ logout screens (new) and their news feeds. And, because these ads will appear on people’s news feeds, they will now be seen on mobiles too. According to Searchengineland.com 50% of Facebook traffic is driven by mobile devices. As traditional banner ads are not visible for people using apps to browse Facebook, this news feed ad strategy was inevitable.
So, Facebook is changing and the free party is over. As before, brands that will do well will need to produce interesting, funny or engagement led content to generate activity. Brands are also likely to find themselves putting more consideration into their Facebook strategies as their promotions may now, involve a fee.