Facebook’s new Timeline feature has stirred up conversation across the web. While we’re having a blast messing around with the new design, our team is focused on how these new features will impact brands marketing and advertising strategy.
It’s been one hell of a week for technology. Google+ opened to the public. No longer do users need a Gmail account to gain access—as if we really cared. The minute that news came out, it was trumped by Facebook’s redesign and rumors of more f8 announcements to come.
And come they did. F8 aired and Zuckerberg dropped Timeline, a new feature that will turn a user profile into a series of chronological infographics based on their online and offline life.
They also discussed how the Open Graph has evolved since it was first launched and how it will now allow external apps like Spotify (music), Netflix (movies), Amazon (books) and others to connect to the Open Graph and send/receive information about the user’s activity to Facebook like a digital diary. Facebook is leveraging actions well beyond that of just the standard “like” to further engage and immerse a viewer.
This info appears on the user’s Facebook Timeline and users have the ability to easily go back in time and review what they were doing at specific points time: liking, listening, reading, and watching. Imagine if you could go back to a specific occasion like a wedding, and you could see what movies you might have watched that month, songs listened to, shows watched on Hulu, and on and on. Pictures taken would be memorialized for that moment in time. You could see if you ran a 5k that month because you used Runkeeper a mobile app that allows you to track and share your fitness achievements.
It’s eerily reminiscent of the film “The Final Cut” with Robin Williams. In the film people can opt-in to have their memories recorded. At the time of their death, Robin Williams’ character finds historically significant events in the individuals memories and uses them to create what is essentially a short film about the person’s life – or a Timeline. When memories are content the implications are self-evident.
Facebook is the network and we’re all the publishers.
Businesses and brands will yield greater value from the earned impressions (or paid impressions) resulting from their social interactions, conversations and the media they create that is consumed by users. The Timeline model of displaying user content is now akin to going through an old photo album with the family. In that regard, noticing the old family Ford parked in the driveway starts gaining value as impressions for Ford.
Brands with loyal advocates will garnish more brand impressions with increased media frequency through the availability of an easy to use timeline as well as increasing the relevancy a brand may have had in a users life at that time. In this regard the impressions improve in both quantity and quality for the advertiser. These new features will force brands to truly invest in becoming relevant.
They also announced that the network has gone past 800 million users of which 350 million visit each month via mobile device. As we continue into the new era of mobile, with banner blindness and super strong spam filters, companies cannot risk having ineffective social media and content marketing strategies any more. With these changes taking shape they will have to work harder to be more relevant, engaging, and producing more valuable media to earn and keep the trust of their audience.
The Super Graph – It’s all about Discovery
Facebook has mastered how to handle “Big Data.” The Open Graph machine will continue to harvest data from all the social apps that exist already. However, moving forward a new generation of apps will start to automatically publish the decisions users make for brands and the brands will in turn be able to analyze that social data and respond with insight-driven responses.
Brands can compare user timelines and determine the life span and reach of a campaign.
Buried in the data lies the prime story conditions that will ensure a user is in the right stage of life to be engaged by your content.
If there is one thing Facebook wants to master it’s how to connect the dots between when an event takes place and the sociological waves it creates. Brands will be able to develop content and recommendation engines that influence how and where users spend their time. And money.
Example: 10,000 of my users like tropical locations in September. I’m holding an experiential event in September, what would a good setting be? “Tropical.”
The key is to lock in to their interests and expand the marketing technique from there.
Sentiment: It’s important to get a sense of what users like, but also what they hate and why. From there, cater the marketing plan based on those interests.
Action based marketing:
What media are my customers and competitor’s customer’s consuming?
- Listening to
Example: I know people who snowboard and like these five clothing brands might like my energy drink.
The highest population of this targeted audience is in these clusters of areas. I should focus my efforts in that geographic area.
The Ads of the Future: “You”tisement
Facebook already has facial recognition technology that is front facing. They are likely developing features that will recognize brands and logos within media, which can already be tagged manually. Photos, videos and any other format of distributable multimedia can be mined for information, adding a remarkable level of contextual targeting to advertisers. So make sure you have the beer label facing the camera the next time you’re at the bar, and be sure to add your current personal CPM rate in the description.
A brand will soon be able to know where you’ve been and what you’ve done in addition to what you’re doing and where you are now. Recommendation engines will get increasingly intelligent and, with the largest statistical data set in the world extending far beyond just what happens on Facebook, they will soon have some level of predictability on almost everything. The concept of contextual ads can go deeper with predictive and proposition based ads that are can pinpoint with statistical accuracy what to show you and where on the page.
A more relevant ad will lead to a better connection between brands and the viewers of the ad.
“Action” based engagement.
The evolved Open Graph no longer requires users to “like” or “recommend” something. You won’t have to hinder or clutter your content experience with social buttons to drive the click. Providing great content that users can enjoy and respond to is now embedded within your brands applications.
The f8 announcements imply that brands will receive more value for the quality of relationships with users. Brand impressions are also increased in both quality and quantity with the addition of the new profile Timeline and its accompanying data and insights. Finally, f8 represent another paradigm shift in how brands need to consider what being “relevant” means and revise social and content marketing strategies accordingly.
Photo Credit: Ian Lloyd, http://www.flickr.com/photos/ianlloyd/322432184/