Facebook’s paperwork for its Initial Public Offering filled this month, has created some media buzz and speculation as to what the company will be doing next. The IPO included stats like, “Facebook had 845 million active users as of Dec. 31, with slightly more than half of those people, 425 million, using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to visit Facebook. An average day on Facebook sees about 483 million people logging into the world’s largest social network, an increase of 48 percent over the previous year.”, and other tid-bits that sparked a lot of ideas as to what to expect this year from the company. In just the beginning of this year, Timeline was released for user profiles and will soon be made available for businesses too. If you haven’t been following all the media, here is a review of a few anticipated Facebook Updates in 2012 we think are important for businesses watch for.
Mobile App with Ads
The IPO alluded to mobile as a potential revenue source, and cautioned that the lack of mobile revenue could harm it, since nearly half of the users access the site on a mobile device. According to Zoe Fox at Mashable, “Users of Facebook‘s apps — for Android, iPad and iPhone — may begin seeing ads as soon as early March, as the company looks to gain an addition revenue source before it goes public.” Also, a new advertising method to expose ads to mobile users called, Sponsored Stories, was released in December of 2011, and embeds the advertised posts directly into the newsfeed of an individual’s profile.
Facebook Timeline for Businesses
On Feburary 29th, Facebook will be sponsoring an event for marketers where it is expected to announce the release of Timeline for Business Pages. Timeline was recently released to profiles for all users and although it is getting mixed reviews, it offers a new experience for the site. Timeline aggregates every Wall post in a profile into a chronological view that can be adapted, added to, and hidden away from view, changing the way information is accessed. Also, the new enhanced options for sharing with media partner applications directly in the Timeline. Facebook VP-Marketing and Business Partnerships David Fischer said Timeline for brands would be “consistent” with the Timeline look-and-feel, but not a carbon copy.
What does that mean for businesses?
Marketers can use those mentions from user interaction, and give their brand wider distribution through sponsored stories. “Marketers want to promote stories about the things they’re affiliated with but don’t always own the apps,” said Gokul Rajaram, Facebook Ads director of product management, referring to apps from services such as Spotify, Netflix or Pintrest that allow users to share what content they’re consuming. “Now you can promote stories from any app about objects you own, not just from the page owned by the marketer.” This will open a whole new way to target ads as well, based on what a user is listening to, reading, or watching when the ad is served.
Brands will have the ability to promote the history of their business by adding historical facts to the Timeline. A large customized design in the profile banner can be adapted more often to promote the brand, campaigns and contests, or other relevant marketing to drive traffic to. Unfortunately it’s rumored that Page Tabs, which were once visible under the profile image, will now be condensed and hidden in a box at the top of the page. Kunur Patel of Ad Age Digital suspects that the format change is to promote the use of the “Open Graph” apps and could put pressure on brands to develop their own apps using custom verbs other than “like,” in the same vein as Pinterest, which has a Facebook app that tracks when its users have “pinned” something.
As Facebook continues to expand, and gain the billions of revenue expected from the public offering, there will be new internal initiatives being added frequently to ensure that the revenue generated by the company will meet stockholder’s expectations. That being said, we expect the advertising element within Facebook to continue to expand and add options for businesses to increase exposure and engagement with their fans.
What updates will you need to make in your own Social Media Strategy for the Facebook of 2012?