Many of the new updates released last week and as part of f8, including Timeline, News Ticker, and the new Open Graph functionality available for applications, do a fantastic job of working in conjunction to overturn pockets within Facebook that do not optimize social connectivity for users. By leveraging the new updates with technical advancements, brands have a unique opportunity to harness engagement with their most loyal constituents within their users’ base portal: the Timeline.
Meeting Users in Their Timeline
Marketers have a three-fold opportunity to provide a significantly enhanced social experience to reach their users in engagements not previously possible. The first issue that Facebook addressed is that users do not want to share their regular interaction with an online or application activity since the information is sent as a status message and is irrelevant to the majority of their network. The term “spamming friends” has become a casual saying when referring to a user’s disapproval of Facebook’s widespread sharing of personal status updates. One of the latest releases at f8, Ticker, allows for the sharing through these apps to be shared in a secondary format than simply sharing to the News Feed.
Second, Reports allows for aggregated insights that are more helpful and insightful to the user. By showcasing an eagle’s eye view of activity, applications can coalesce data to tell a story or segment of a user’s lifestyle within the Timeline.
Finally (and most importantly), Timeline opens up a new area for users to add developer-made apps to “express themselves” within the “About Me” section of the new design. While Facebook released a brand new design that features applications at the top of the Timeline, it did not release new applications to fill them. Instead, they presented the changes first to developers in order to allow third parties to create the social applications to fill this new feature and allow users to customize their experience. Facebook accurately attributes its success to many applications that were created through their open API, and they will continue to rely on third parties to craft experiences for Facebook users.
How Brands Need Respond
Facebook has created a void where Timeline applications are needed to allow a user to demonstrate their personality on their Timeline. In response, brands need to create apps to allow the user to showcase their engagement with the brand activities on an aggregated level in a social-sharing environment. Similar to concepts such as RunKeeper, a mobile application that “makes tracking your workouts fun, social, and easy to understand so that you can improve the quality of your fitness,” users can create experiences within an inherently social experience in Facebook.
Example Applications: Open Graph
The modified open graph expands the Like button to capture a larger scale of social actions by adding an Action + Object combination. In this sample, the following action and object pairs are identified for a theoretical loyalty program Timeline application:
- Action: Enter <-> Object: Code
- Action Get <-> Object: Reward
- (Total) Codes Entered (displayed as a number summing the total of all entries over time)
- Favorite Rewards Gallery (in which users can track their action one-by-one and rank their cumulative preferences over time, including a visual tracking component)
Here are more samples of engagement opportunities for digital actions in the Open Graph for a retail eCommerce platform and a digital movie rental program:
By allowing for excellent opportunities for social sharing on applications, applications can harness engagement within their power users’ profile page via the new Timeline. For brands that have a digital experience, applications could potentially become a more significant driver of engagement than some Facebook pages themselves.
To learn more about Facebook’s new Open Graph API, building applications in Facebook and the new Timeline, view these recommended archived video from Facebook’s f8 conference on September 22, 2011: