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What the Facebook News Feed redesign means for marketers

Facebook this morning announced a major update to News Feed, aimed at making the popular service richer, simpler, and more beautiful.

The ultimate goal of Facebook News Feed, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is to deliver “the best personalized newspaper” to every user.
That means providing a “broad diversity of content,” including high-quality public content from businesses and public figures as well as posts from friends and family. While being broad, News Feed should also allow users to drill down on specific topics that interest them.
Here are a few tips to consider when incorporating the new Facebook News Feed into your existing social sales and marketing strategy:

1. Share rich and visual content

In November 2011, according to Zuckerberg, photos accounted for 25% of News Feed stories. In January 2013, photos accounted for almost half of all stories. Additionally, posts from business pages, not friends, has increased from 15% of the News Feed to nearly 30%.

This data demonstrates that, more than ever, businesses like yours have an extraordinary opportunity to engage with customers and prospects on social media. In order to capitalize on this opportunity, brands and businesses must share rich and visual content on Facebook.
The previous version of News Feed only allotted 40% of screen real estate to the main content, including your Page posts. This allotment, says Facebook Director of Design Julie Zhou, has been greatly expanded, meaning the impact of photos and other visual content will likewise be widened. For businesses that run ads on Facebook, like Sponsored Stories, it’s essential that these also be made “richer and more immersive” to compete with other visual content in the stream.

2. Provide value to fans

While Facebook constantly tweaks its algorithms to make News Feed as relevant and personal to each user as possible, this is sometimes difficult with content coming from such a disparate group of sources. As a result, explained Facebook engineer Chris Struhar, users now have the option of choosing between the overall News Feed, an “All Friends” feed, and a “Following” feed, which only shows posts from businesses and brands.
This update will be welcomed by users, but it shouldn’t change much for businesses on Facebook. As long as you remain dedicated to providing value to fans, not in the form of self-promotional content but instead with relevant posts and photos, you will still surface in feeds and stay top of mind with your customers.

3. Share content that will work on any device

Rather than try to make Facebook for iPhone and other mobile devices look like Facebook on the Web, the Facebook design team has instead opted to port their mobile designs over to desktop. Ultimately, this will result in a more consistent Facebook experience across mobile devices, tablets, and the Web.

The value of this to businesses is that “they can think about how assets will look across different screens,” according to Facebook VP of Product Chris Cox.
Previously, marketers would have to jump through hoops trying to figure out how certain posts will appear to users on the Web versus users on mobile. Since this will no longer be the case, you can start planning your social media posts more holistically for sharing across Web and mobile.
As expected, the updated News Feed will roll out to users slowly, as Facebook collects feedback and works out kinks. Once they have a more polished version, the redesign will roll out more broadly.
Anyone curious to test out the redesign can join the waitlist here.

Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih at ad:tech New York: "7 Habits of Highly Successful Social Marketers"

Welcome to the Facebook Era.

Today, over 800 million people actively log into Facebook to connect with their family, friends, and favorite brands. The statistics are similarly mind-blowing on the other big networks: there are over 200 million users on Twitter, 130 million on LinkedIn, 40 million on Google+, and 10 million on foursquare.
Quite simply, businesses can no longer ignore the social media explosion. And they know it: 73.5% of U.S. companies consider social media a top priority, according to Forrester Research. Companies are no longer simply theorizing about social media potential, however, as evidenced by Burston-Marsteller data that shows 65% and 54% of Fortune Global 100 companies to already have a presence on Twitter and Facebook, respectively.
For today’s Chief Marketing Officer, getting a grasp on social media can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. For my keynote today at ad:tech New York, I’m presenting on the “7 Habits of Highly Successful Social Marketers.” Because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get through all seven, I’ve published them here in full, complete with tips, tricks, and the Hearsay Social superhero:

  1. Establish home base
  2. Your job as CMO is to build your brand and engage your audience. Well, when Internet users spend over 22 billion minutes each day on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, it’s hard to engage anyone unless you’re actively participating in the social media space. You may not necessarily have to dedicate full-time resources to every single social networking site, but you do need to have branded corporate pages on the ones that matter most. A national coffee brand like Starbucks, for example, benefits immensely from having a place where customers can come find them and give feedback on their experiences. Not only that, but Facebook pages, Twitter pages, and the like are excellent places to link to and send ad traffic to. Establish your home base and users will find you on social.

  3. Claim your pages
  4. You’ve created your corporate brand page and you’re sending out messages, so you’re work is done, right? Wrong! Many brands will quickly discover that there already exist hundreds, sometimes thousands of rogue pages on social sites created long ago by either customers or employees. On Twitter, for example, an insurance company might find that their agents are already actively engaging with clients, with or without approval from management. On Facebook, a retail company has to deal with positive pages (“I love Coca-Cola!”) and negative pages (“Coca-Cola sucks!”) alike. Taking control of your brand on social media means claiming your name wherever it already exists.

  5. Get local to drive sales

  6. Once you’ve established your corporate presence on social media, it’s time to get local. Customer loyalty and acquisition is best accomplished at the local level, because that’s where the strongest relationships are built. And social networking is all about relationship building. For retail stores, this might mean exploring the power of check-ins by offering deals and promotions. For gyms and health clubs like 24 Hour Fitness, one of our key customers, generating leads and fueling traffic to local centers is essential to driving conversions.

  7. Integrate social media across marketing mix
  8. “Social by design.” That’s the latest mantra we’ve been hearing from COO Sheryl Sandberg and other Facebook executives on how CMOs should approach the new world of marketing. Sandberg described a perfect example of “social by design” at the Association of National Advertisers convention last month: Huggies ran a campaign in Hong Kong where people could upload their baby photos to the brand’s Facebook page, and then the brand used the photos in ads on buses and subways. The campaign led to a 4.2% increase in market share and “by far the best quarter in Huggies’ Hong Kong history,” according to Sandberg.
    Personally, I like to think of social media as a spice. Like salt and pepper, social media must play an integral part in every dish you cook up, be it an email or print campaign or something else entirely. It’s not just another layer, it’s not a separate division, it is a pervasive spice that should flavor everything you do.

  9. Learn and live by the new metrics

    Just like we had to “invent” clickthrough rate and CPC a decade ago in the Google era, we have to come up with new metrics for the Facebook era. It’s meaningless to just measure engagement—number of likes, comments, posts, tweets—unless you can tie it all to the bottom line. We’re not just stumbling in the dark, though. Avinash Kaushik, the Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google, recently outlined four distinct, measurable social media metrics for CMOs to use: 

    • Conversion Rate = # of Audience Comments (or Replies) Per Post
    • Amplification = # of Shares Per Post
    • Applause Rate = # of Likes Per Post
    • Economic Value = Sum of Short and Long Term Revenue and Cost Savings
  10. Corral the chaos
  11. With all of the moving parts, people, and regulations, it’s critical that your organization can scale automation and do a lot with a little. Farmers Insurance, one of our most successful clients, managed accomplishments as outstanding as breaking the Guinness record for Most Likes on a Facebook Page in 24 Hours, and all with a social media team of one.
    Instead of assuming that you need a massive social media team, partner cross-functionally and engage multiple departments at your organization, from IT to legal to compliance to customer support and beyond.

  12. Prepare for the future
  13. The last (but certainly not least) important part of marketing in the Facebook era is realizing that the space is in a constant state of flux.
    For example, at Facebook’s f8 developer conference in September, the company announced Timeline, a major revamp to the look and feel of user profiles, and Open Graph actions, which gives users the ability to “read” books and “climb” mountains in addition to just “liking” pages. Then there’s the question of rising social networks like Google+, which just this week launched brand pages.
    CMOs must reserve some time to stay abreast of industry changes like the ones outlined above, and their campaigns and systems need to be fluid enough to adapt in real-time.

Marketing is changing, but that’s not a bad thing. It just means that you can no longer simply read a “how-to-market” manual and call it a day. Social media has shaken up the way things work, and the aftershocks are still rippling out. It’s an exciting time to be a CMO.

Don't have 25 fans? Don't worry – vanity URLs now available for all Facebook Business Pages!

Goodbye long, numerical, hard-to-remember Facebook Page URLs. Hello short, unique brand-identifiable URLs!
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. Typing in Facebook.com takes you to Facebook’s homepage. Facebook assigns each user a series of numbers and letters following the “.com” that creates a unique URL (i.e. facebook.com/people/100000929151942). By typing in that series of numbers and letters, you can access a user’s personal profile. This is still true today.
But back in 2009, Facebook gave personal  users the option to create  “vanity URLs” of their choosing (i.e. facebook.com/kate.keene). This made it easiest to find and share one’s profile without searching from inside the platform. Businesses quickly followed suit and created vanity URLs for their Business Pages (i.e. facebook.com/hearsaysocial). However, to create a custom URL, you needed at least 25 “likes” on your Business Page.
The 25-fan hurdle is a thing of the past! Last week Facebook made it possible to customize Page URLs  regardless of the number of fans the Page has. Now, businesses can immediately create a unique URL and promote the URL through marketing communications, their website, and across social media. This means a more accurate and elegant URL of your choosing to consistently reinforce your brand.

A few things to remember:
  • Choose a username that is straightforward, related to your brand, and easy to remember
  • Usernames can only contain alphanumeric characters and must contain at least one letter
  • Usernames cannot be changed once you set your unique URL – think about what to name your Page
Creating your new URL is easy – here’s how:

1. Go to facebook.com/username
Facebook Username Step 1
 
2. Carefully enter your desired username. Confer with colleagues if you don’t know what to name your Page. A window will appear to let you know if your desired username is available.
Facebook Username Step 2
 
3. Click confirm, and your unique username will be confirmed. Direct your fans to this new URL!
Facebook Username Step 3
 
That’s all it takes! Now spread the word about your custom URL by adding it to your website, email signature, business cards, and marketing materials.

Facebook Pages + Places: What’s changing

The news has leaked out – Facebook is getting ready to launch another significant change to Facebook Pages and Places. As you may remember, they’re merging Places with Pages so users will now be able to check in to Pages with physical locations. Now there’s more: in a week or so, Facebook will launch a beta “parent-child” system that allows organizations to manage all of the Facebook Pages created by their local agents, owners, and retailers. We can’t wait!
For a while now, corporate/local brands have been creating and maintaining not only a corporate brand Page but individual local brand Pages for each location. You can imagine things get pretty hairy when you’re talking about hundreds or thousands of Pages, and that’s why companies turn to Hearsay Social–to help set brand guidelines and compliance rules across the enterprise, to marshal the marketing resources of the brand effectively, and to understand the dynamics of how their social strategy works across the organization.
But up until now, we could only take it so far. A truly “rogue” location or representative could refuse to adopt corporate standards, or leave the company and keep control of their branded Page, leaving the brand no recourse but legal action.
With this new announcement, Facebook is taking a major step to help corporate/local brands (our favorite!) with baked-in API support for claiming and retaining control of their brand. By rolling in these new APIs to our existing corporate/local social management suite, brands will have more control and flexibility than ever, while still maintaining authenticity at the local level.
We’re excited that Facebook is beefing up their platform so we at Hearsay Social can deliver richer functionality for large companies. For example:

  • enterprise systems integration
  • enterprise-grade compliance tools
  • centralized content library with hierarchical control
  • distributed campaign management tools
  • and lots more exciting stuff to come

P.S. Facebook, while we know you’re listening, can we have that API to edit Pages and profiles next? 😉