Facebook and Branded Social Actions

Mark Zuckerburg has articulated the mission of Facebook thus: Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. The core of Facebook is that power to share. For marketers that seek to connect with Facebook’s over 800 million users, that means creating something worth sharing, and making sure they find it. In the guide for marketers, Facebook recommended that 20% of your budget goes to building an app and 80% on promoting it. While that may seem self-serving for Facebook, the fact is that it is the same principle that has always been the case with marketing messaging: whether creating a television ad, sponsoring a concert tour, or building a web site, content distribution has always formed a larger part of the promotional pie compared to the content creation.

Brands have to figure it out: in the US, Facebook accounts for 16% of total time online, and that percentage continues to increase at steep rate. The folks from 360i put it this way: marketers must become part of consumer’s personal stories in a shareable way.

The most important place for a brand to be within a consumer’s Facebook page, is in the Timeline. It’s also the most difficult place to be: the Timeline is controlled by the consumers, and represents what that person sees as the most important parts of their lives; those things that define them and that they want to share with others. One big change for brands: if a brand fan clicks “like” on a brand status update, this action will no longer show up in the fan’s news feed – the fan must take some action, such as “share” the content, before it will show up to their network.

Brands that provide something fun or useful will become part of the Timeline as they provide applications that cause a consumer to “do” something with their brand. The new emphasis on verbs: reading, watching, etc. will allow consumers to talk about real interactions with brands – IF the brand provides something that’s worth doing. 360i’s report calls these “branded social actions”.

With Facebook’s new Ticker functions, brands will want to learn more about when their consumers are using Facebook, and test to learn what timing and frequency of posts generates the most interaction.

As a brand rolls out a new application intended to generate these branded social actions, the distribution strategy will likely need include the purchase of media to be sure that enough folks see it to get the social ball rolling. The guidance to marketers distributed by Facebook places a lot of emphasis on the use of Sponsored Stories, and that’s no surprise. While it certainly drives revenue for Facebook, these Sponsored Stories units have proven to be successful in generating traffic to brand content – and the better the content, the more Sponsored Stories will be generated. It’s a logical step for marketers to include these units in their campaign plan. It will also be important to connect all other media placements to the Open Graph, so that every traffic driver your brand uses will generate a branded social action to bring more consumers to the great content you have created.

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