At the highly anticipated f8 conference Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced a massive redesign to the world’s most popular social media website. With an emphasis on order of magnitude to connections and relevancy, going forward brands will face a new challenge on how to connect with their customer base and generate impressions.
Brand relationships are no longer top news
News feeds will be dominated by friendships and not fan activity going forward, and will play a big role in future content discovery. For Facebook users, your profile will become your “Timeline.” No longer will the people see just what you are doing now, but they will be able to see your history of activity, or “social timeline” on the platform. Popular topics will feed the Timeline, but lower order interactions and brand relationships will be shown in a fast moving ticker on the sidebar of the site now. According to Zuckerberg, “People have things that they want to share but they don’t want to annoy their friends by putting annoying things in their news feed.”
The new algorithm used to determine relevancy will look for patterns to determine if something is newsworthy. What this means is that top newsfeed billing is now only possible if groups of friends are interacting with a brand page. So momentum around a brand, or a topic will be key.
How do you “like” me now?
Going forward, brand engagement strategies will need to be rethought. The simplicity, and limitations, of the “Like” button are over as Facebook programmers add a list of verb options. In the short term feedback buttons will be limited to music, video, and literary content; however, Facebook is considering the addition of a “Want” button which could be applied to any product.
Timeline is both a blessing and a curse
Profile pages will be completely reinvented. Page history will no longer be a mundane list of the most recent actions. The new format is becoming a digital scrapbook that groups relevant pictures, status updates, comments and more and not just as one point in time, but as a timeline of your life in Facebook. Less relevant items will be archived as grey dots in the background. Similar to the newsfeed, brand interactions will struggle to get prominent placement on personal timelines unless brand page fans have established a pattern of interaction. Now more than ever it will be important to keep customers regularly engaged in your brand within Facebook.
The OpenGraph development platform will aggregate content among your friends and will also be leveraged to produce apps within Facebook, making the platform even stickier for consumers. At f8, the Washington Post, News Corp, Yahoo! and others announced Canvas-based apps that will run within the platform. Timeline will collect not only your interactivity with friends but also activity around the games you play, the music you listen to and the movies you see. It will be easier to check out songs, movies, and books that friends are experiencing. And your timeline will record those interactions for you into your social timeline.
Is there upside?
The redesigned Timeline is a huge opportunity for brand page design. Brands can introduce themselves in a far more dynamic way, communicating brand history, lineage and current activities all on one page. Familiarizing a new customer or engaging an existing one will no longer be a clumsy process of reading different tabs and stale status updates.
Given Facebook’s new layout and prioritization focus, brand teams will need to adapt. Impressions will be harder to come by using the same strategies of old. The repercussions of these changes will be quickly realized as beta testing has already begun, with the full launch in the weeks to come. But we expect that apps will explode within the platform over the next year. Expect a Netflix app where you never leave Facebook to use it, and makes a record of everything you watch. Expect more social gaming apps and the major music listening services to support the platform as well. So for brand teams, the rules have changed but the horizon is much wider.
– Christine Gaynor
Associate Account Manager