New Facebook: Are You Ready to Tell the Story of Your Company?
That was the number one message from Zuckerberg at the f8 2011 Conference as he unveiled the most sweeping changes to Facebook in the last 3-4 years. Up until now, the most important thing for Facebook was user growth. It's now at 800 million, but recent signs have pointed to growth slowing.
As Zuckerberg stated at the beginning of his keynote, the first five years of Facebook have been about getting people signed up and connected to their friends and brands, but the next phase is making it something that billions of people around the world use to stay connected for hours each day. Zuckerberg shared an interesting data point to prove this point. Last week, for the first time ever, 500 million people used Facebook during a single day.
Now It's About Depth of Engagement Through Stories
More than 18 months ago, 50 percent of people logged into their Facebook accounts at least once a day, spending an average of 55 minutes a day there. Based on the data point above, now over 60 percent of people login every day. Zuckerberg stated that the most important thing for Facebook is to deepen the engagement now that the connections have been established and the network is in place.
What was significant about Zuckerberg's keynote was the way he talked about what people share on Facebook. It wasn't "status updates" or "photos" or "wall posts". It was "stories" -- and the message was that now Facebook is the place to "tell the story of your life."
The announcements centered on the revamped personal profile. There was nothing specifically announced about business pages, but based upon the vision guiding the message and the subtle addition of a "Friends Activity" tab to all Facebook Pages, I believe we can expect that Facebook Pages will be revamped in the same way. Even if they are not enhanced in an identical manner, there is a lot that B2B companies should learn from the new personal profiles and adapt their approach to business pages.
Learning From New Facebook Profiles
The new Facebook profiles won't go live until this Friday, but I updated mine through the developer release and spent the weekend contemplating how the new profiles impact how companies should approach their pages starting now. Here are a few ways.
Don't think of content you publish as "updates" or "posts". Think of every one as an opportunity to tell the story of your company. This means bringing out the human side of your company.
How is your team interacting with customers? What's going on inside the company that show your culture? What events are your team members attending -- both large and small? Your publishing strategy should be more about getting your brand ambassadors to post on your wall than your "brand" does.
Stories are visual
Perhaps the most striking thing about the Facebook changes are the way photos are displayed. Gone are the thumbnail images. Don't let the photo and video album app be underutilized. Gather as much in the way of photos and videos from employees, create more albums and tell stories through captions.
If Timeline comes to business pages, those assets will fill it up nicely and spark more interaction with followers, just like those personal photos do among your friends.
Content as apps
Among the Facebook announcements, there was a huge emphasis on Facebook as an app platform. The new Timeline shows people's use of these apps and the content they are consuming in an elegant way. Facebook's new Open Graph means that there will be much stronger and deeper implicit social recommendations that come from users' consumption of content, as shown through apps like Spotify or Wall Street Journal's social newspaper.
Think about how you can leverage the Open Graph to create a kind of reader app that exposes your valuable content like blog posts, presentations, how-to documents through Facebook and through your web site. As part of this, the 'Like' button is morphing to become more action-oriented using words like "read," "watch," "listen". If your great how-to document is accompanied with a "Reading How-To Solve X Problem" button and customer clicks it, that social recommendation is much more powerful.
Benefitting from the Social Wars
If there's one thing that's been clear from the last few weeks of gamesmanship from Facebook and Google, it's that these platforms are becoming much richer for storytelling. This means that companies should not think about campaigns, but giving followers an experience that is more personal, human and useful to them.
As you read more about Facebook's changes or see them yourself, what do you think of them, and what do you think they mean for businesses?