With membership and traffic plummeting of late, Facebook have made some major changes which impact brands and consumers alike. The response, as with any change Facebook make, has been audibly ‘meh’ but there’s some useful benefits for brands.
Wired magazine described the changes by saying, “Facebook’s vision of the future involves bringing its users entirely into its social platform, allowing for the Facebook page to be a sort of one-stop shop.” This is precisely what makes Vkontakte the social network with the highest penetration of daily usage - 63% of users log on daily compared to Facebook’s 58%. Why? So they can watch and listen (illegally) to films and music.
The most important bonus for brands might be in new-found visibility. Facebook via a default setting will only show you the pages and stories which you interact with most – since people look to interact with friends first on Facebook, those posts are most likely to show up as Top Stories in the new design, meaning brand pages dissapear from newsfeeds if they do not receive any interaction. The new ticker allows businesses whose posts only reach 20% of their fans to now reach them all. Facebook have now also added per-post impression data so brands can track engagement performance more precisely so they don’t slip off newsfeeds. What is most apparent is that brands will have to be more relevant to fans than ever.
Gestures will allow brands to spread their own framing of their content they want and perhaps even make their own dialect become a social meme. As Mumbrella points out, Facebook believes that users are not entirely comfortable clicking ‘Like’. More people will share more things if the button they click doesn’t imply personal endorsement. Mashable also points out, “More people will click a button that says they’ve ‘Listened’ to a song or ‘Watched’ a video, rather than simply liking it. From Facebook’s F8 conference onwards, developers will have the power to create their own actions/buttons.
The new Timeline pages allow a user to feature any content – videos, photos or other updates – in reverse chronological order. Timeline transforms the list of status messages and comments into a scrapbook of a user’s entire Facebook history. Brand timeline pages will eventually arrive but for now we’ll have to learn how they change the behaviour of consumers, and give them the tools and cues to create brand timelines for us.
AllFacebook believe that in the short term, creating an app on the platform is the best way to benefit from the new changes as for now, pages can only dream about the level of social integration with Facebook’s new products that Spotify and others have achieved.
Brands which don’t powerfully and frequently engage fans will inevitably lose visibility in a user’s main newsfeed, relegated to the ticker and barely visible on the homepage, meaning that Facebook may see some ad revenue benefits from desperate brands from all the changes. But it’d be cynical to think that was wholly the reason for the changes, right?
Facebook will make a tonne from behavioural ads now that users can share what they are consuming (videos, news, music) through media partner applications. This means marketers can get mentions and gain them wider distribution through sponsored stories
Here are the other changes:
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- Posts can now be as long as 5,000 characters – ten times the previous maximum length.
- You can no longer accompany a friend request with a message.
- Part or all of the navigation bar will remain on-screen even when you scroll down the page.
- You can create bookmarks, label favourites, in the left-hand column.
- Birthday reminders appear in the upper-right side, near where you see poke notifications.
- Friend lists that existed before the new smart list prompts have an entirely new management interface.
- The poke button has become a link tucked into a pull-down to the right of the add friend button.
- A thumbnail image of the user, and his or her name, appears in the right-hand corner of the top blue navigation bar. When one surfs the site using a page alias, the name and main image appears in the same place.