Monthly Archives: February 2012

Facebook Timeline for Brands – What This Means to Your Customers, Your Brand and Your Products

Today, Facebook announced the release of the new Timeline for brand pages. Although this announcement was expected in social software circles – some were very surprised by it. Before you react one way or another, let me explain what this actually means for you – especially if you sell products.

First things first, you don’t have a choice. Come March 30, 2012 your brand page will be on Timeline. There are several major reasons for this but the largest is the new Open Graph architecture that Timeline was built to embrace. You can see examples of this on your own personal Timeline page with aggregated information from applications such as Spotify and others – showing your activity over time. Brands will now have the ability to elevate other aggregated information (like the history of the company) and improve promotion of applications (ones that used to be on tabs) in new and exciting ways.

100% Increase in Time Spent on Brand Pages

Your customers, because of Timeline on profiles, are now getting used to seeing information about their friends in this format – and now when they see your brand page they can learn more about you and the products you sell. For large, well-established brands, this can be a new form of long-tail marketing that will lead to increased brand awareness and engagement. In testing, Facebook says that users that view Timelines for brands (like Coldplay, Walmart and others that were included in the launch announcement) spend 100% more time on the new format to learn and discover. You are now a friend to your fans, not a business. You now need to fill your page with rich and relevant information in a time-based format to engage and retain your audiences. The good news though for many brands is that the “conversation” has been simplified. Users can now send private messages directly to you and you can reply back. Brand pages shouldn’t run the risk of turning into flame wars or customer service nightmares as brands have much more control over what is seen, how it is seen and more importantly, what isn’t.

Tabs to Applications

You now have real estate in the header area of your new page to promote your applications (tabs, as they were known yesterday). But when an application is engaged there is a new branded header and a much larger application canvas that allows you to do more. There is also a dynamic new drop-down menu that allows your customers to view other applications without having to hunt around the page.

Posts, including posts about products, now have relevance to their launch and their related content – so brand events now can become an important driver of social momentum and activity. If you have a product launch, event or endorsement, you can merge your marketing calendar with specific messaging that is date-based and present it in a curated manner – more customized than what you could do before. You now also have additional tools in place to promote that activity.

New Premium Ads

Posts that you make to your pages can also promote your applications and Facebook has added some serious horsepower to these posts through GraphRank and their ads platform. You can participate in their “Reach Generator” programs to distribute a single post to your fan’s Facebook pages, or add premium services to your ads to promote a post on the right side ad bar, directly in the newsfeed or on the Facebook log-out page. We are sure to see more areas added to these premium offerings in the future.

Lastly, Facebook has added new features for better video promotion on your Timeline that can also leverage these new premium ad services.

All in all, while not overly surprising, we think these new changes will be a good thing for brands marketing and selling on Facebook and we’re excited to create great new experiences that leverage the best of the timeline features.

Brands: Be Present Without Being Annoying

It’s a catch-22 for brands with a social media presence. A new study shows that consumers think companies should have Facebook pages in order to maintain a social presence – but they also don’t want those companies to “bug” them. Fifty eight percent of respondents said they felt brand’s social media was invasive.

Social Commerce experiences have to be compelling – just like real world retailing

Bloomberg’s premature (?) retrospective  on early attempts at F-Commerce is interesting in light of their upcoming IPO, but not largely relevant to the kinds of social commerce experiences we (and others) are building in Facebook today.

It does, however, highlight something key that many of us in the field have been counseling brands and retailers for a while now:

You can’t just re-create your eCommerce catalog in Facebook. It won’t work.

If you’ll pardon the overused analogy… companies re-creating their whole eCommerce catalog in a Facebook Tab reminds me a bit of bringing in TV cameras to film radio shows. When faced with a new medium, we have a tendency to first try squeezing the existing one into it… because that’s all we know. It takes a while to learn what “works” in the new medium – and what we should, and shouldn’t use it for.

What Does Work in Social Commerce: Compelling Offers, Exclusive Products and VIP Access

What we’ve learned is that social customers want compelling, exclusive promotions and offers from the brands they engage with in social media. A recent CMO Council study found that 79% of social customers say they are using social media “to take advantage of special offers and discounts” and 55% to “learn about new products”. Retailers like Gilt, Beachmint, Fab and Clymb are taking off because they offer curated products, exclusive experiences and a compelling reason to buy.

We are seeing that same combinations work well for our clients in the Social Commerce experiences we create:

- Nike Golf’s Product Launch in Facebook drove 6X purchase ROI by offering their fans exclusive access to the new 20XI ball

- Kaenon Eyewear’s Flash Sales in Facebook are selling exclusive products, and driving a 368% increase in fan engagement

- Steven Alan’s VIP Rewards Store helps drive up to 10% of all online purchases through the channel

The fact that [exclusive products + compelling offers] is a winning combination in Facebook shouldn’t be a surprise to seasoned retailers – that’s what works in other high-engagement channels as well.

Use Facebook to put your Best Products in front of your Best Customers, with your Best Offer, and make it easy to redeem or buy.

Social customers are often your best customers. These are your brand evangelists, your supporters. They have raised their hands to participate with your brand and they are there (at least 79% of them) to receive promotions and specials that revolve around your brand and your products.

They are not there to simply transact in the same way they do on eCommerce sites, this seems to be true. The social commerce experiences we create in Facebook must be engaging, exclusive and unique in order for social customers to discover, buy, and share products there.

To put this back into more traditional retailing terms – Facebook is a great place for end-caps, member-only sales and celebrity appearances… not for your entire catalog.

Not Getting Enough Click-throughs on Facebook? Here’s Why.

Far too often, links aren’t optimized for Facebook. They’re not pulling in correct pictures, or perhaps they’re not pulling in pictures at all. They may not have the correct description, or the description may just be a string of keywords. All these things combine to make it less-than-tempting for users to click on the article being shared.

Consumers Spend 15 Percent of Their Online Time on Facebook

Nine out of ten US internet users visited a social network at least once last year, according to comScore. Of course it’s probably no surprise that Facebook pulled in the largest percentage of social networking time: “14.6 percent of all time spent online and roughly 16 percent of page views are on Facebook.” Given the network’s filing for IPO last week, it’s clear that they are looking at ways to increase revenue on the platform.

Relax … if you like Pinterest, don’t worry about the link changes!

Some of you might have read on several media outlets that Pinterest is changing links to eCommerce sites in order to self-inject affiliate link codes so they can generate revenue on those pins. The immediate reaction to this was “oh no! they are changing my links?! That’s wrong… isn’t it?”…

How many people have bought products on Facebook?

So, how many people have bought something on Facebook? It’s more than you might think…

Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to speak in front of thousands of people at large scale fashion, retail and eCommerce events around the country. At the start of every presentation, I ask a few questions (mainly to wake the audience up). These are: