Why Your Brand Can’t Ignore Facebook in 2012

this is an amazing article i came a cross, its a bit long, but worth it ,

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Facebook is nearing 1 billion global users, and the unique audience in the United States is already saturated at 139 million users. People already spend 21.3% of their time online at social networking sites like Facebook, and according to a new report from ComScore, Facebook visitors spent 400 minutes on average on the site in January 2012 alone.

So how is Facebook expanding on this success in 2012? The answer lies in expanding Facebook’s focus from connecting people to people and to connecting people to their interests, and this shift presents new opportunities for brands and advertisers looking to connect with Facebook users.

From Social Network to Interest Network

The first step toward this vision came by opening up new options in how people connect to people on Facebook: subscriptions make it possible to follow an acquaintance, celebrity, or journalist without having to be friends. By removing the need to “friend” other users, Facebook is enabling people to connect to whom they want, how they want.

Two Facebook initiatives are expanding moving this thinking beyond people in order to overhaul how people connect to brands on the site.

Facebook Timeline Apps: Facebook’s new OpenGraph apps has brought the benefits of the network effects that social games have seen over the past few years to new content publishers like newspapers, TV networks, and music services by featuring them on Timeline profiles and in the new Activity Feed on the right. Spotify, a new social music competitor to Apple’s iTunes, is a great example of the benefits of this approach. The app grew from 1 million users when its Facebook app launched in September 2011 to over 16 million monthly active Facebook users by March 2012. But the initiative hasn’t only seen success in music:

•  Newspapers: U.K.’s The Guardian has used its Facebook app to extend the British paper’s reach to almost 4 million Facebook users.

•  Video: The monthly users of Hulu’s Facebook app is 1.4 million almost equal to the 1.5 million paying subscribers for Hulu Plus.

• Shopping: Facebook shopping mall Payvment has seen its userbase jump from 700,000 monthly users before their Timeline app launched to 1.5 million in just a couple of months.

Facebook Interest Lists: Facebook Lists were first launched to organize a user’s friends, similar to Google+’s Circles. In early March, Facebook has launched Interest Lists. These lists make it possible for users to follow updates from Facebook Pages without having to “Like” a Page.  Interest Lists could be useful for your brand in the following cases:

•  Entertainment: Align your brand with an entertainment vertical like sports or humor to end up in a feed. For example, Red Bull’s focus on sports content could get them listed in an “Action Sports” interests list while Old Spice’s focus on humor could get them in “Funny” interest lists.

•  Shopping: If your Page provides deals, discounts, or other shopping promotions, you could end up on a “Shopping” interest list.

•  DIY: People love to use the Web to learn how to do new things. Home Depot, L’Oreal, and other brands that provide tutorials could easily end up on skills-based Interests lists.

The New Paid, Owned, Earned Approach to Facebook

When Facebook focusing more on content, advertisers will need to re-examine how Facebook fits into paid, owned, and earned social media strategies.

•  Paid: Explore Facebook’s new advertising units to get more return on your paid media investment. Sponsored ads can now feature content from Facebook Page posts like photos, videos, and other stories. You can also target friends of friends to build on your existing fan base. Facebook’s new Reach Generator makes it possible to pay extra to guarantee that a sponsored post is seen by 75% of your Page’s fans, a huge jump over the 17% of fans that currently see any given Facebook post each a month.

•  Owned: Facebook Timeline pages recently launched for brands, dramatically changing the way your brand is represented on the site. On March 30, all brands will be forced to change to this new format. The new Timeline makes it easy for Facebook users to explore and learn about the history of your brand. If a brand Facebook app can be developed that makes sense for your audience, it can be leveraged as a useful tool for generating earned media.

•  Earned: The new changes to Facebook will make it easier than ever to get Facebook users sharing content related to your brand. The Interest lists will improve discovery of press coverage of your brand, and the Activity Feed makes it easy for people to share content and activity from Apps without ever having to press a “Like” button. Also, traditional PR will get a boost from Facebook becoming a media platform as more publishers grow their Facebook audiences.

Facebook is notorious for frequently updating its platform in a way that leaves advertisers scrambling to catch up. While other digital services like Twitter are launching new brand page facelifts, Facebook’s is extremely important. With the new focus on Facebook as a platform for exploring interests, brands will need to think more seriously about aligning their content marketing with clearly defined user interests and will need to take a holistic approach to engaging with audiences on Facebook that leverages the expanding range of paid, owned, and earned media opportunities on the site.

by Simeon Spearman, 03.09.2012

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