Blogger’s Note: There’s way too much information to fit into one blog post, so I’ve addressed the Subscriptions, Top Stories/Ticker, and Timeline in Part One. Partnerships, Gestures, and Color are in Part Two.
You’re probably using a certain f-word in response to Facebook’s newest changes in addition to its news from the F8 Conference.
I understand your frustration over all the work your summer intern put in going to waste and that your strategy is back at square one. Many companies are in the same boat and are wondering how they’re going to adjust to all of last week’s changes, especially when they don’t have the time to figure out the differences in this new Facebook geared towards Web 3.0.
There are several options here. Run from the problem and not use social media? I have a better question: when does running away from anything ever help? Switch over permanently to Google+? The developers at Google would like that to be your solution, but then you’re losing out to a network of over 800 million people. Besides, G+ won’t be ready for businesses until November. Don’t make any adjustments and try to use the old Facebook features on the new one? That’s like buying an iPhone for the purposes of texting and phone calls. Yes, you’re using its functions, but no, you’re not maximizing its use.
Instead, take a look at the first part of my suggestions for how companies can use the newest Facebook features for their marketing strategy.
Why? — The subscription is Facebook’s answer to Twitter. An individual can now publish their status updates to the general public without being someone’s friend. There are friend subscriptions and public subscriptions, all of which are factored into your Top Stories (see below) in order to figure out what you see on your home page.
What Does This Mean? — Companies can use their Facebook pages as a public relations tool. The subscription button helps companies engage their audience like Twitter without having a 140 character limit. The other advantage is that a company’s message lasts for several hours on Facebook unlike Twitter where it should consider itself lucky if its message lasts seven minutes.
Action Item — Engage more and subscribe to your competitors — Hire a copywriter or if you already have one, add Facebook to his or her responsibilities. Someone in your company needs to drum up excitement over the company and keep it going on a consistent basis. It’s also important to see how your competitors are engaging their audience, which you can accomplish by subscribing to them in order to better improve your strategy.
Why? — Top Stories is Facebook’s way (with your input, of course) of letting you know what it thinks you care about. Instead of finding out about your high school science partner announcing that they just bought groceries, Facebook will give you news based on who it thinks you want to know about. If Facebook happens to be wrong, don’t worry. You can click the blue corner to say stories about that person don’t interest you and it will adjust accordingly. The actual Ticker, which used to be your dominant News Feed, is streaming right above Facebook chat so there’s no need to refresh Facebook.
What Does This Mean? — Facebook has turned into a big RSS feed. Top Stories will feature subscriptions, so companies can have their news prominently featured on their subscribers’ home pages. This gives users an opportunity to stay on top of their favorite company’s latest news directly from the company itself. The Ticker keeps your news current, but it only lasts for a few seconds whereas Top Stories could stay current for several hours.
Action Item — Avoid the temptation to duplicate your Twitter strategy on Facebook — While it’s true that the point of all these changes is so that more content gets shared at a faster pace, it’s important to realize that Facebook still doesn’t have the same use as Twitter. Therefore, DO NOT tie your Twitter and Facebook feeds together. Think of Twitter as an instant PR tool meant to get your message out quickly for a short term bump. Use Facebook as a long term brand awareness marketing tool that will help your company stay relevant with its customers over a longer period of time.
Why? — The Timeline is the biggest change of Facebook — and the most controversial. You can now see everything from your past that is recorded on Facebook. The Timeline gives you an opportunity to retroactively add statuses in addition to any details that aren’t currently on Facebook. This is called Stories. There is also the Cover, which gives you an opportunity to place a dominant image for your timeline as a compliment to the profile picture. Finally, there are the Apps, which I’ll get to in part two of this post.
What Does This Mean? — Nothing has to be kept private anymore. Almost anything a user would want to get online is available through Facebook while sharing with your friends. If a person says they’re going to get coffee, you’ll get to figure out pretty easily that they like to get an Iced Latte from Starbucks every Wednesday sometime in the afternoon with their friend Roger. Now if I’m a logistics company, why is this information relevant to me? I’ll get there, but don’t worry. It’s important.
Action Item — Engage your employees — If that guy going for coffee happens to be your employee, perhaps it means you need to offer coffee at work or engage them so that they will become the PR mouthpiece for your company as much as they are for Starbucks. My second action item would be to breathe and to breathe some more. There’s a lot of information at your finger tips. Some people say, it’s too much information. There’s a lot of work you can do with this information, but it might be best to wait until some analytics application comes out that allows you to gather different types of data based on the timeline.