In its 10th year running, Facebook has evolved at an incredible rate. Within the last year, since Facebook went public, the company has had a major impact on marketers. It is one of, if not the most, popular social mediums and presents a lot of opportunities for marketers to connect with fans and consumers.
Since its IPO, Facebook has certainly sought to be more effective for businesses, and to become more lucrative. Aside from providing an opportunity for contacting someone outside of a marketer’s network, Facebook has installed all kinds of other changes to help marketers improve their efforts.
The most notable change Facebook has made to its interface is its Timeline restructure. This shift reflects the general trend in social media towards live updates and streaming, as exemplified by Twitter. Unlike its counterparts, though, Facebook has included an option to accentuate certain events, making their Timeline more attractive for businesses to tell a story and bond with followers.
Highlighted and pinned posts are also better equipped to draw attention. Pinned posts enjoy a prime position at the top of timelines for 7 days (and then return to the date it was posted in the timeline). Highlighted posts are placed in chronological order amongst all the timeline posts but stretch over the 2 columns. For this reason, pinned posts best attract attention to news, while highlighted posts are a good way of showing the important events in a company’s life such as anniversaries and new products.
The enlarged cover-photo has assisted in enhancing branding for businesses. Initially restricted, contact details and calls-to-action on cover photos give brands a highly visible location to market specific events, whitepapers or products.
Personalized tabs provide the flexibility for companies to adapt apps to their audience. This allows marketers to include custom content beside the standard tabs like ‘photos’ and ‘likes’. This is important because it allows marketers to create a much more intense, personalized user-experience for followers on Facebook.
‘Suggested pages’ and posts on our newsfeeds drive more likes and exposures for businesses. These are very similar to the other posts on users’ feeds, but show up when a friend likes a brand’s page, in the event that the suggested page might interest you too. Suggested pages are also available as ads for companies. These can be targeted according to geo, interests or other likes. They show up in the same way but are marked ‘sponsored’ at the top. When the user hovers over the post, a pop-up is shown with buttons to like or message the brand. These paid ads are promoted posts or page post ads.
Facebook now offers a more varied range of ad options. These allow marketers to approach users in different ways. Some marketers prefer to market in a more subtle way than others, like sponsored stories and page post ads.
Marketers can sponsor stories that are targeted to appropriate demographics. Sponsored stories are unique in that they leverage positive mentions and buzz from fans. Advertisers pay to highlight an action that users have already taken on Facebook, for example ‘checking in’. This means that there’s a better chance that people will see the messages.
Facebook also created a new dashboard that makes the advertising platform easier to manage, saving marketers’ time and effort so they can focus more on messaging and tactics.
Facebook also released a new feature, ‘lookalike audiences,’ which helps marketers target and reach new customers that are similar to those who already follow or like them.
As mobile becomes more popular, social media, particularly Facebook, maintains a high position of visited sites on these devices. Facebook honed in on this by optimizing its presence on mobile devices through an updated application as well as a smartphone interface of their own.
ROI can be measured by CTR, likes, CPC, website traffic, etc but there are still brands that are not able, or not trying, to monetize their advertising efforts on their social media outlets. The best way to truly understand the impact Facebook is having on ROI is through efficient cross-channel attribution, which will shed light on how the channel works with other channels and affects a user’s behavior. Without understanding a consumer’s entire path to action, it is virtually impossible to understand the impact of one channel alone.
Facebook has certainly proven to be an asset to marketers in its first IPO year, and is a flexible medium that businesses can personalize according to their brand and audience. Even though doubts have begun to rise about the future of Facebook as young audiences explore other social media, it remains a popular and effective – critical even – part of businesses’ social media strategy.