Using Facebook to Drive Sales

With 800 million members Facebook has become the example of a main stream, international social media site.  This Fall at F8, Facebook’s developer conference, several new features were announced that greatly increase the opportunities for brand engagement with the Facebook audience.

Facebook introduced Timeline, a radical new way of organizing and presenting “wall” information.  With large format images and content widgets Facebook page owners, both people and brands, can take advantage of the new freedom of expression as they tell their story in a visual, time based, scrap book.

Paul Papadimitriou's Apple Timeline mock up

Facebook further extended the importance of its Open Graph feature by adding Custom App actions.  In his presentation, Mark Zuckerberg said that if 2010 was the year of the noun, 2011 was the year of the verb.  With Custom App actions users can now go beyond liking something and instead talk about watching, cooking, flying or reading something.  These actions can be enhanced with more information: instead of saying “I am cooking,” a new Facebook action may say, “I am cooking chicken for dinner.”  Of course for brands the idea would be to have a custom app action that said, “I am making Kraft macaroni and cheese for dinner.”

When users take an action in your app, such as cook the Stuffed Cookie, the app calls a Graph API to create a new cook action that connects the user with the Stuffed Cookie object. This is accomplished by issuing a HTTP POST to the user’s /me/myapp:cook connection with the URL of the recipe object. Facebook will then crawl the object URL, read the metadata, and connect the object to user’s Graph via the action.

A new activity ticker at the top right of the Facebook page alerts user to other people’s “light weight” media consumption activities.  Working with a host of media partners,Facebook now shows your friends (and friends of friends) when you are listening to a song on Spotify or watching a video on Hulu.  The stated purpose is for users to be able to discover new entertainment based on what their friends like. The ticker is also another place that custom app actions can appear.

As people add apps to their Timeline, friends will be able to easily discover and connect to your app in just a few clicks, as they see it on not only each other’s Timelines, but in News Feed, or the newly launched Ticker.

These updates may seem like more features updating in the lifecycle development of a product but for brands they represent a significant opportunity.  Having amassed the largest group of connected user ever assembled, Facebook’s new features offer brands a better channel for telling their story and engaging users in an ongoing conversation.

 

Facebook Credits is a payment system that offers a safe, easy way to pay for digital and virtual goods in games and apps across Facebook.

Credits and Commerce were not areas covered in the F8 conference but represent huge opportunities for brands to add teeth to any marketing communication and use Facebook as a direct sales channel.  As the Facebook credits program continues to grow and integrates both psychical locations and Groupon like redemption models, brand will have a new tool to drive product purchases.

Direct commerce via the Fabebook platform also represents a real opportunity for brands to sell products.  At THINk we have seen success through offering a curated product selection or bundle on Facebook as a virtual pop up store to drive additional sales around specific popular items.

While Project Spartan has not been officially announced it is well known that Facebook is working on a major enhancement of its mobile offering.  Facebook mobile is currently used by 350 million of its users and has significant advantages for brands, particularly brands that operate physical retail environments or sell in brick and mortar locations.  Consumers are relying more and more on their mobile phones to do in store price comparisons and take advantage of coupons and offers at the point of purchase.

This is Project Spartan?

Over the course of the next few weeks we will look at each of these features sets in greater detail and explore the opportunities for brands to directly improve sales via Facebook campaigns

THINK specializes in helping brands understand their customers and then finding ways to break through the cluttered marketplace to make meaningful connections with them. We’re skilled in the creation of compelling experiences with sustainable models that drive ongoing ROI for businesses. Please feel free to reach out to us; we’d love to hear from you.