What do Facebook’s biggest changes mean for your business?


Just over a week ago, we (Neoco) were invited to speak at the Chinwag Insight: Facebook Marketing conference on 6th October 2011. We shared our predictions with delegates from around the country, explaining what Facebook’s latest and most radical changes to date (first announced at the f8 conference on 23rdSeptember) mean for marketers and business.

Other panelists that supported our talk included senior members from We Are Social, Wieden+Kennedy and 1000heads. Have look at some of the insight we shared at the conference looking at the opportunities and potential threats that face your brand when Facebook’s developments are rolled out to all users this month.


Brand History:

The new Timeline design features give the ability to scroll back along the feed to specific date at the click of a button. This heightened transparency may require attention – those bad feedback comments you thought you had buried under months of good will now be easily unearthed. However this also gives users and brands alike the option to fill in their backdated history. When was your company created? Is there a key story behind its inception or anecdotes, images or videos that can be added from an anniversary event? What other key milestones feature in your brand history? In tough economic times people look to brands with heritage, denoting reassurances of their quality. By adding further content, brands can establish richer emotional connections with their customers, driving loyalty, sales and also smiles.

Coca-Cola Timeline


The news design allows for greater insight into analytics. Along with seeing the actual reach of posts via ‘Friends of fan’ and ‘Weekly total reach’, the ‘People talking about this’ feature gives a quick snapshot of who is interacting with your content and what exactly is being said so further interaction can be generated. In addition the number of friends made and likes gained is totaled and summarised at the end of each month, making for a more in-depth analysis of what campaigns and activities have worked best for your brand.


Like a popularity contest the more posts that are liked or commented, the more prominent they become. These posts are then prioritised and pulled into users News Feed. Facebook’s EdgeRank formula will play an even greater role as brands vie to have their posts interacted with, making the cut and being elevated as Top Stories in the main News Feed. To combat critics’ accusations that Facebook has become too business based, user photos will appear larger than brand photos on Pages. Brands that constantly broadcast their message with no thought toward social interaction may see their engagement levels drop. With the onus on creating valuable content, the evolution of Facebook means it will now be more beneficial to fully engage with your brands core advocates than simply racking up thousands of ‘Likes’ on a page. Content creators take note!

Open Graph:

Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol enables brands to integrate their web pages into the social network. The ‘Like” button is getting some friends and now brands can move beyond the like response as Facebook introduce more contextually relevant actions such as ‘watching’, ‘reading’, ‘listening’ and ‘shopping’ options. App developers can in fact customise responses to incorporate any verbs and nouns linked to your brand. By approving these apps as a one-click opt-in, whether it’s Running with Nike+, Cooking with Foodily or Listening with Spotify, users voluntarily share more and more pieces of information, as their activity appears in the news Ticker when they use the service.


“Before on Facebook it was about getting people to ‘Like’ the brand,” claims David Berkowitz, senior director of emerging media and innovation for 360i. “Now, it’s about getting people to take social actions enabled by that brand.” Known as actionable intelligence, brands will work hard to integrate themselves into each users ‘digital autobiography’. Thus by introducing more options to share Facebook will be able to paint a far more accurate picture of users’ lives allowing for enhanced advertising targeting and opportunities for brands to interject with their product, service or offering.


Brands will be able to further hone in on Facebook users by targeting people’s ‘Milestones and Experiences’ posted on their timeline. For example, you have just got engaged to your fiancée and posted a photo of your engagement ring as a ‘Life Event’. Marketers can quickly turn this action into a sales opportunity by serving up wedding related advertising to the excited bride planning their big day, or to guests mentioned in the update that maybe buying wedding outfits and presents. The recent study by Upstream on attitudes to mobile marketing found that personalisation techniques increased the relevance of advertising, with 59% preferring offers based on personalisation over offers focused on timing, lifestyle and location. Therefore taking the consumers name and life story into account, especially on mobile when our time and attention span is limited, makes for a highly effective social experience in an increasingly cluttered market.


Content ownership:

Any content that either you or customers post – whether it is comments, photos, videos or third party apps – is owned by the creator. However by posting it to Facebook, users are effectively signing a waiver for the content’s release for the site to do whatever it sees fit. A phenomenon of web 2.0 is the economic repercussions this has for content hosts such as Facebook; Mark Zuckerberg reaps the economic benefits of the distribution and production of all the content that Facebook users generate. Known as sharecropping, the more content that is generated, the richer Zuckerberg becomes.

Zuckerberg’s Law of Sharing and the Paradox of Choice:

Coined Zuckerberg’s law, the Facebook founder predicts that the amount of content that can be shared online roughly doubles each year. Likened to Intel, who discovered that computer processing power doubles roughly every 18 months: “They understood the social impact they were having, Facebook shares a pretty similar approach.” Zuckerberg applied this theory to social media, coining it the Law of Sharing. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, Facebook users are posting an estimated 30 billion pieces of content every month, and this is on the rise.

With sharing opportunities climbing via third party Facebook apps, users can become overwhelmed by choice and options forcing them, ironically, to share less. The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less by American psychologist Barry Schwartz argues that by lowering options of choice, customers become less anxious in making a decision. Translated to social media, with so many options to share what brand of shampoo you washed your hair with, what track you are listening to on your iPod or where you will be having your after-work drinks this Friday, people may begin to recoil from divulging such information to the public. What deems one bit of content more shareable than another? If you start to share in this way, where does it stop?

Fan Power:

In the days of the simple ‘Like’ button fans liked your page and you had a captive audience. Not any more. Users can now interact with pages without becoming fans. Although this can improve your impressions it can leave your page open to attack and may reduce conversions by those who are actually interested in your brand. EdgeRank will become more important than ever with posts that are interacted with and with the other posts merely sidelined to the Ticker in top right corner. With updates not showing up on users News Feeds due a lack of interaction may create a catch 22 scenario as they become less and less aware of your brand’s activity. The solution? Brands needs to maintain momentum and engagement with users or run the risk of literally dropping off the Facebook radar – which is likened to social media suicide and a predicament no brand would want to entertain.

As a business and a brand, understanding the impact of customers interactions with Facebook’s revamp is necessary to pre-empt any problems with not only your layout, but how you can build the new Open Graph personalisation features into your online properties. Separating good social media marketing from simple metrics, the ‘new’ Facebook divides brands into those simply interested in the number of fans, and those who actively listen to their audience. Brands that effectively interact and integrate engaging, relevant and authentic content – enriching the fan experience, will be what sets the winners and losers apart.

Photo (cc) ChinwagOriginal post by Grace can be found on Neoco's blog.


The new Facebook timeline

The new Facebook timeline allows people to better communicate and share posts with friends. However, several users find the timeline feature confusing. I think the company has to work on this. Overall, the changes made were intended to improve social media communication, which everyone of us seeks.