In a charm offensive to woo advertisers before its IPO, Facebook pitched brands new features to guarantee they reach fans' timelines and profile pages.
Facebook announced a redesign for Pages at its marketing conference, fMC, held today in New York City. Top brands such as 1-800-Flowers and Walmart joined agencies and marketers at the American Museum of Natural History. The venue was an apt location considering the Facebook team was talking about taking the history of user visits, the history of how brands have interacted with Facebook users, and applying what they've learned toward future improvements in marketing.
The new Facebook Pages give brands new features, including the ability to "pin" a post to the top of a page timeline for up to seven days. And those large banner photos that users feature at the top of timeline pages have now also become part of the brand experience on Facebook, as Canlis restaurant in Seattle demonstrated. Brand pages will also be able to use larger pictures in their newsfeed to tell stories and engage with their fans.
This appeal to Madison Avenue comes as Facebook, the world's biggest social network, plans to raise $5 billion in an IPO that could value the company at upwards of $75 billion. The network relies on advertising for 85 percent of its revenue, which was $3.7 billion in 2011.
For companies trying to reach more of their audience, the brand page aims to become a central hub for connecting and communicating with fans. Mike Hoefflinger, Director Global Business Marketing for Facebook, described Facebook's new Reach Generator product that will allow companies to get their stories out to user's pages on the upper right hand side of the page. Stories from pages currently reach an average 16 percent of a brand's fans.
Hoefflinger asked, "What if we could help you reach 50 percent of fans each week, and 75 percent of fans each month? Reach Generator will make sure your fans see your stories, by moving them from brand pages to people's Facebook home pages."
Instead of bidding on words, a company able to decide that they want a given percentage of all fans to see their stories. The reach-generator system is based on cost-per-thousand price model, using Facebook's typical dutch auction. An example of the effectiveness of Reach Generator is Ben and Jerry's hitting 98 percent of fans, allowing it to increase sales at a 3-to-1 ROI.
There is also a way to create stories that have "offers" in them, discounts which are free for Page owners to create. These allow a one-click to accept and one click to share model. Offers are an easy way for businesses of any size to provide an offer that can be passed virally. An offer can show in a newsfeed and can be used not only by page fans but by anyone who sees that offer.
For even larger brands, Facebook introduced Premium on Facebook as a way to distribute content to millions of people not only on the right hand side of the page, but also in a fan's actual newsfeed. Not only will stories show on the desktop, but as of today, it will also show on mobile client interfaces in the newsfeed. An optional fourth placement—showing fans stories or offers as they log out.
The brand pages will obtain the same features we've seen on Facebook personal pages in that page owners will be able to have larger story pictures, and their timelines can have "milestones" which can include dates and additional content.
Other features rolled out for page administrators include a redesigned administration panel that allows for performance tracking, responding to private messages and more.
While some of these features are for the largest brands and businesses in the world, many such as offers, the ability to respond to direct messages from page fans, and the Reach Generator program will be quite accessible for small and mid-sized companies to start increasing their engagement and sales with their fans.
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