In its latest move towards world domination, Facebook unveiled some pretty radical and exciting changes to its platform. Although the presentation was geared towards users and developers, there are several significant takeaways for marketers. It's important to note that these announcements suggest something much bigger than aesthetic tweaks. They signal a fundamental shift in the way people will be using social media going forward.
Improved Open Graph pushes apps into the spotlight
One of the major features announced last week was an improved Open Graph, which will allow users to watch video, listen to music and read news together, on Facebook, in real time. Facebook will be joining forces with a whole slew of impressive media partners including Spotify, Netflix and Yahoo! News. In the past, building a Facebook app was a questionable move for most brands because the visibility and stickiness was minimal, not to mention that people tend to get annoyed by apps. That’s all about to change as the new Open Graph moves to improve the app experience and create stories around apps that will become integrated with the user’s Timeline (another feature rolled out with the recent announcements).
Timelines (may) encourage brands to tell a story
The new Timeline profile format will curate all of a user’s past posts into one long, scrolling page organized by recency and importance. Essentially, profiles will become a digital scrapbook, telling a person’s life story through the highlights they’ve shared on Facebook. Users will have the option to use the information already on their profiles or manually fill in some of the missing pieces to tell the entire story.
For now, there has been no mention of Brand Pages, but in the past they’ve typically taken on the design elements of profiles. So does this mean brand timelines? If so, it will become more important than ever for companies to have a cohesive brand story. The pages that will resonate with users in this new social environment will be the ones that have a clear brand direction, resulting in an interesting and dynamic story. That doesn’t mean just having cohesive design elements or a snazzy tagline, it means developing robust multimedia campaigns that will bring the brand page alive.
Higher user control over newsfeeds will force brands to up the ante
Another thing to be aware of is that users will have a higher level of control over what they see in their newsfeeds. Unimportant messages will automatically land in the new Ticker, a rapid-fire feed of realtime updates separate from the main newsfeed. Only the most important posts will make it to the newsfeed, so if your brand is lucky enough to end up on the feed, your post be good. Pushing out dull or contrived content just for the sake of getting your brand in front of eyeballs will counterproductively result in users hiding your brand from their feeds forever. The time has come for brands to start investing real effort into their content creation and giving followers something worth sharing.
Metrics for marketing success are in for a change
Speaking of sharing, it seems that the Zuck is growing weary of the all-powerful Like button, so brands should be prepared to completely reevaluate how they measure success on social media. Going forward, static, short-term metrics such as likes and comments are going to become less important than long-term connections. Marketers will have to figure out what it takes to become a part of their followers’ life stories. It may mean developing a truly useful app, writing an impactful piece of content, or creating a laugh-out-loud funny video. However it’s achieved, it will have to be meaningful enough to be newsfeed, or better yet, Timeline worthy – which I’m guessing will be no small feat.