Thursday, March 10, 2011

Facebook's redesign impacts your marketing strategy

Courtesy of David Berkowitz 360i.

This week, Facebook will begin rolling out its redesign to all pages that haven't already been switched over to its new format. The overhaul makes the pages look and feel more like user profiles. Facebook hopes this will create a more cohesive experience across the platform for its more than 600 million users.

These changes can have significant ramifications on marketers' Facebook strategies by giving brands more ways to interact with their communities on a more personal level. For developers, this opens up new possibilities for what can be done on tabs within pages. Here are three ways the redesign can shake up your approach to Facebook page management.

1. Brand pages can now communicate and interact with one another.
As social media has empowered brands to behave increasingly like people, Facebook is propelling the trend forward by allowing pages to behave in a way similar to individual profiles. This means that pages can interact on other page walls as a brand, via "liking" or commenting.

How to make it count:

  • Assess how you can weave cross-page interactions into your content strategy or use them as a fan acquisition tool.
  • If your brand has partner or family brands, create conversations between pages to create a cohesive experience, or alert people to additional pages within Facebook.
  • Consider using the new functionality as part of your influencer marketing efforts. Since major influencers (e.g., popular bloggers) have pages and not profiles, brands can now post on their walls to foster a relationship.

2. Tabs are less prominent, but marketers can now use them far more effectively.
Given the limited visibility of tabs with the redesign, marketers will likely need to bring visitors deeper into their pages via increased paid media, wall messaging, or using the new photo showcase -- which has assumed the position formerly occupied by tabs.

How to make it count:

  • Bring eyeballs and clicks to your inside pages through creative design, messaging or even paid media. Lessen the impact of the move by ensuring that your profile image is not too long, as it could run the risk of pushing tab links lower down the page -- possibly even beneath the fold. Meanwhile, Facebook ads can drive consumers to the tab of your choice.
  • While tabs inside pages may have less visibility, there is a boon for marketers as Facebook has added powerful iframes, which allow similar functionality as a normal website within a tab. Page owners can now integrate tracking platforms like Google Analytics, Coremetrics and Omniture, display Flash elements and video without the extra "click" to activate them, and add other interactive functionality.

3. Your page can now interact as a brand or as an individual.
While most administrators will continue to post as the brand, they can also be featured directly on the page itself. This is ideal for brands interested in transparency and those focused on personalized customer service.

How to make it count:

  • If you represent a brand and want to have a unique voice on the page, look into creating your own page and use that to interact with people within the brand's Facebook community. For example, establishing different voices and personalities would allow customer service representatives to deliver personalized experience on the Wall.
  • If you have a page with fewer fans and limited engagement, set up email notifications so you can stay closer to interactions on your page and respond to them in a timelier manner.

From here, the decisions are yours. How much do you want your page to sound like a brand versus an individual? Do you focus more on photo uploads since they're more prominent on pages? What other pages can you interact with in a way that users will enjoy? While it may be tempting to rush in and play with the new creative options, it's the perfect time to step back and evaluate how they'll help you use Facebook to further your marketing goals.

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