BrandArena: Facebook’s Timeline, Gestures and Apps: What does it mean for brands?

Friday, 23 September 2011

Facebook’s Timeline, Gestures and Apps: What does it mean for brands?

It has been a week of suspense and speculation regarding changes to Facebook that began rolling out at the start of the week. At the F8 developer conference in San Francisco, the company revealed a new way to integrate applications that reproduce content without the user having to leave the site. We have also seen user profiles updated, new applications for playing music and watching video and social news apps.

Three of the main changes are Timeline, Apps and Gestures.

Gestures. Facebook believes that users are not entirely comfortable clicking ‘Like’. They think that more people will share more things if the button they click doesn’t imply personal endorsement. As Mashable points out, “More people will click a button that says they’ve ‘Listened’ to a song or ‘Watched’ a video, rather than simply liking it. From Facebook’s F8 conference onwards, developers will have the power to create their own actions/buttons.

The new Timeline pages allows a user to feature any content – videos, photos or other updates – in reverse chronological order. Timeline transforms the list of status messages and comments into a scrapbook of a user’s entire Facebook history. (But this doesn’t apply to branded pages).

As for the new Apps; Facebook’s new class of social applications include media-centric apps — music, movies, news, books and games — and what it calls lifestyle apps. Rather than just ‘liking’, the new category of applications will allow users to ‘read, watch and listen’ to the integrated media services. This means that you can listen to your favourite music while stalking people.

So what does this mean for brands?

Using the Gestures feature, brands can build their own customized buttons. Imagine a website with buttons like ‘Dare’, ‘Cheers’, ‘Fair dinkum’.

But the most immediate implications are for ads. Now that users can share what they are consuming (videos, news, music) through media partner applications, marketers can get mentions and give them wider distribution through sponsored stories – a new kind of behavioural advertising.

These apps present brands with a completely new way of targeting Facebookers. Depending on what sort of content users are consuming, ads can be filtered and served accordingly. For now, this new form of targeting will only be available through Facebook Ads’ API and its direct sales team. But I suspect that it’ll be rolled out for more advertisers very soon.

Other benefit includes: watching TV and movies, listening to music, and reading news with your friends—all this is now possible within Facebook due to its partnerships with different media companies, such as Spotify, Yahoo or Hulu. Posts can now be as long as 5,000 characters – ten times the previous maximum length, birthday reminders appear in the upper-right side, near where you see poke notifications, part or the entire navigation bar will remain on-screen even when you scroll down the page.

Increased users engagement means for Facebook only one thing—adding up to its revenue, which eMarketer predicts will clear $3.8 billion from advertising this year.

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