Articles on Facebook: Roundup of Recent Changes and Opportunities for Facebook Marketing

by sdepolo on October 26, 2009

Facebook Articles are flooding blogs as a series of changes made by the popular social network in the last two weeks have changed a lot of the opportunities and challenges for marketing through Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups, and circulating content from your website or blog through Facebook Connect.

These changes mean it’s time to review your strategy for marketing on Facebook, and it seems to me, this is the best time to launch a Fan-building campaign since the major changes in the Spring of ‘09.

This is because Facebook is now reviving the News Feed instead of just the Live Feed that features mostly Status Updates. This change gives you the chance to expand the viral marketing potential of your Facebook Page, if you add fans and engage them in a way that gets them to interact with your content effectively.

To tap these opportunities, you need to understand how content ends up showing up in the News Feed. On the InsideFacebook blog post about the news feed changes they say:

Impact on Facebook Pages

Deng says Page stories will also be selected in the same way as status updates and application stories – i.e., depending on how much response the stories get and how much you interact with the Page. However, all Page managers should note that this now means that all of your Page’s updates will now no longer necessarily show up in your fans’ News Feeds in real time (in the Top Stories view).

Now, Page managers need to start thinking about News Feed Optimization (NFO) too. In other words, what do you need to do to maximize your Page’s updates in the News Feed? According to Deng, comments from a user’s friends on a Page story is an important factor in getting it to show up, so encouraging comments and likes more would be a good way to start. Keeping fans coming back to your Page as much as possible is also now much more important.

Before we all go adding lots of new fans, the information above argues for being strategic about how you add these fans. To us, it argues in favor of “bundling” your targets. For example, if you have a batch of leads on your email list that share some common interests, or you are promoting your Facebook Page with links from other sites or within Facebook Groups, you might want to target these sites or list subscribers in batches. If you add a lot of fans that share similar interests or physical locations at the same time, it is more likely that those new Fans may be friends of each other or of each others’ friends. This will make it more likely that once you get Fans to interact with your content, by ‘liking’ it or commenting on it, that the other targets you have reached out to will see this interaction in their news feed. No guarantees on this, just a careful reading of the changes seems to indicate that we could expect this result.

Facebook Changes to User Activities Hitting News Feed That Are Important to Understand

One thing that popped out at me from the Facebook Article listed above was:

Facebook is adding user activity stories back to the News Feed – event RSVPs, group memberships, and becoming a fan of a Page.

This news means it’s a better time now to launch a fan-building campaign for your Facebook Page than it has been since they made major updates to the user home page in Spring ‘09.

In addition, paying attention to these changes, we see some excellent opportunities to get creative in how you use features available to Facebook Pages. Read on for some alternative strategies you may not have thought of…

Using Facebook Events Creatively

You can use events promote product launches, milestones, and other news about your business’s evolution, beyond just actual physical or virtual events. If you give your fans a reason to RSVP, like saying that anyone RSVP’d to the event will be given priority notice, early access, or a discount, for example, then those RSVP’s will show up in the News Feeds for their network.

Facebook News Feed Optimization is More Important Than Ever

From the article above, they note that:
“News Feed publishes just a little more than 0.2% of the stories it considers.” News Feed Optimization means that you track the statistics about your Status Updates and use that to inform future updates until you have discovered a formula for what works to get your Fans to interact with you, so it’s more likely that you will show up in that small fraction of published updates.

Facebook Groups Are Now More Like Facebook Pages

Also last week, news hit the streets that Facebook redesigned the look, feel, and features of GROUPS to more closely resemble Fan Pages and profiles, and is now allowing groups to post to news feed:

Facebook Group activities, which previously only appeared in the group, will now be delivered to your News Feed – you will see stories when one of your friends posts within a group rather than when all members post.

Facebook Connect Update: Now Counts Shares

Another change that will have some impact and could help you track success of viral content you develop is this… Facebook is launching two interesting upgrades to Facebook Share that should make it more valuable to web publishers: “live count” widgets and Share analytics. Based on this change, we see even more than ever the need to create valuable content designed to be remarkable, so that users will be compelled to share it on facebook.

Ecommerce for Facebook Pages

Facebook Pages will have Ecommerce application that uses PayPal and lets you add items to your page that visitors can add to a shopping cart, as they browse pages, then check out all at once after adding items from multiple pages.

All of these changes make it one of the most exciting times to begin or accelerate your marketing efforts on one of the most powerful, valuable and fastest-growing social networks.

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