Facebook plans to disrupt the $12B search advertising market by changing the very landscape of the Internet. Facebook’s advertising platform, still in its nascent form, encourages brands to let their fans promote their brands on their behalf. The concept is that a product recommendation from a friend is inherently more valuable than a corporate display advertisement.
The Open Graph – contextual sharing
According to Mashable’s analysis of the strategy, Facebook is not only making their advertising platform better, they are making advertising itself better.
“Facebook is putting pressure on advertisers to create better content for their brand Pages. If they do, those brands will have a better chance of winning over friends of fans either by advertising or by creating something viral. It’s a cycle that has the potential to redefine the way we interact with brands. From now on, brands will be friends or friends of friends rather than spammers trying to bombard your consciousness.”
More than just liking a product, the Open Graph expands brand interaction to any action of any object.
Early examples of Open Graph enabled shareable brand experiences and “frictionless sharing” include listening to music, reading news articles, playing games.
- Dave is listening to Metallica on Spotify
- Gabi read an article about Steve Jobs in the Washington Post
- Jamie just beat BJ 437 to 207 in Words with Friends
Regionally contextual content
Another example of “better pages” is regionally contextual content. Walmart, for example, just announced My Local Walmart, enabling the retailing giant to share local specials with targeted segments within their 9 million fans nationwide. The brand content is more engaging and contextual, in this case, because it is regionally targeted. Facebook knows the location of each of their 800 millions users based on their profile, enabling their servers to display regionally relevant announcements to each user’s news feed.
Encouraging creativity and participation
Brands are scrambling to create better, inspiring content that is an appropriate fit for their product or service. The next wave of ‘better content” will include digital experiences that allow fans to play, engage, create, compete, and participate. Shareable content. Social content. Personalized content. Viral content.
In the fashion industry, for example, potential engaging campaigns could include examples like:
- Michael Fox virtually tried on some eyeglasses at Sneaking Duck
- Jodie designed her own high heel shoes at Shoes of Prey
- Anita personalized a Canadian Barbie on Barbie.com
- Mary Lou created a set on Polyvore.com.
Design contests add a much needed increase in brand engagement via gamification and fun interaction. Product design and personalization are much more compelling than old-fashioned upload-an-image-and-vote campaigns.
“Social design takes word of mouth marketing and puts a bullhorn to it,” said Katie Mitic Facebook’s technology executive at the X.innovate conference in San Francisco.
“VP and General Manager of X.commerce Matthew Mengerink said “What we’re encouraging developers to think about is to try out the more ‘pre-shopping’ social experience”, he said. Meaning that the process of joining friends at an online store, browsing, sharing, and chattering via enhanced social features is a way to encourage brand recognition, organic word-of-mouth familiarity with products — and is integral to making the online shopping experience more resemblant of offline shopping. And to grow online sales.”