Facebook made drastic changes to page rank last year that negatively impacted how often brands’ page posts were shown in their fans’ timelines. This led some brands to complain that Facebook was intentionally burying organic posts to force them to spend money on promoted posts. This, along with brands such as GM pulling all of their advertising spend due to low ROI, has led some brands to question the true value of Facebook. Facebook now seems determined to prove to brands that having a Facebook presence and spending money on Facebook advertising is worth the investment. Since the beginning of the year, Facebook has been quietly testing and implementing several new features affecting ads and stories that appear in users’ timelines. Many of these new features are designed to make it easier for users to “Like” the brand’s Facebook page. With these new features, Facebook is likely aiming to help brands drive not only likes – but ultimately conversions as well.
As we mentioned in a previous post, one of these new features is a new ad format that appears in the right column of users’ timelines. The ad unit includes an image that spans the width of the ad, along with copy underneath the image. The new ad format features a slightly transparent “Like Page” button on top of the image in the ad, and hovering over the button brings the button to full-color. If a user clicks on the “Like” button, the user instantly likes the page without being redirected elsewhere – and is immediately given the option to “Unlike Page” – right in the ad.
Another new feature Facebook users are beginning to see is what appears to be a partnership with major web publishers such as Forbes, Gawker, AOL-owned properties such as TechCrunch, and BuzzFeed. When Facebook users share articles from these blogs, the post that is generated include a number of features designed to increase engagement including:
- An invitation asking the user if they “Want to see more from Gawker? (or whichever blog the post is shared from);
- A pop-up inviting users to “Keep up with BuzzFeed” (or whichever blog the post is shared from);
- And of course, a “Like Page” button.
As with the new type of ad unit, Facebook is clearly working with brands to drive targeted page likes, encouraging users to Like the page, but only when the user has already expressed an interest in that brand (whether by retargeting or actively sharing that brand’s content).
Facebook is also making a push towards helping brands drive conversions by ramping up the Facebook Gifts program. On Valentine’s Day, Facebook suggested that significant others buy their sweethearts a treat from Starbucks, a featured partner in Facebook’s Gifts program. (To their dismay, many of my friends in Seattle actually thought this was a targeted recommendation.) Several days later, Facebook began gently directing Facebook users who had never sent a gift to the Gifts dashboard with a video about Gifts, encouraging these users to send a gift to a friend. (Those who have sent a Gift before now see a new dashboard purchase history and prompts to buy more gifts for friends.) This push to give Gifts – especially from the featured retailers – is yet another way Facebook is working with brands to help drive conversions and prove that there is an ROI for these brands to maintain a presence on Facebook.
With these new features – and more advertising changes expected on Facebook throughout the year – Facebook is poised to make the social network a place for users to not just browse friends’ engagement, wedding, and baby photos, but also experience extremely targeted advertising in a multitude of ways. While these new features may not be available to all brands yet, the targeting these formats will provide means users may actually be interested in the content – and will be more likely to convert than any other type of Facebook marketing we have seen before.
If you’re an advertiser, what do you think of these new features? Do you think they will help drive more conversions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.