Facebook’s New ‘Social Feedback Loop’ — and 7 Recommendations for Marketers

With the hype of Facebook’s f8 developer conference behind us, with its celebrity cameos and star-studded after parties probably calling in some help for the morning clean-up, it’s now time to think of the sobering implications of how this groundbreaking update to the Facebook platform causes us to rethink our social marketing strategies going forward.

Facebook’s ‘social feedback loop’

While we’ve described tools like Timeline and the new Open Graph features in our post yesterday, the really interesting piece is how they all fit together to create a feedback loop between Open Graph Apps and the Facebook experience — one that is designed to spur social discovery and engagement.

Let’s examine this in more detail.

It all starts with the apps

Developers must define “actions” and “objects” within their Open Graph Apps. Actions consist of verbs like “watched,” “listened,” “cooked” or “ran.” Objects consist of the nouns users connect to within an App like a “movie,” “artist,” “recipe” or “route.”

Open Graph Apps create stories in the Ticker

When a user takes an action on an object within the Open Graph App, the app will automatically broadcast this within the Facebook experience to the real-time Ticker. The App broadcasts this without the user needing to click an additional “allow” (s/he signs off on this when initially allowing the App).

All of the “stories” broadcasted to the Ticker are accessible to a user’s friends, and include the App developer’s customizable “flyout” with more in-depth information. For instance, if it is a music app, any song listened to by a friend can be played right from the Ticker simply by scrolling over it.

Ticker stories are Aggregated in the Timeline

Apps can also be part of a user’s Timeline, and showcased by developer-created Aggregations that display a user’s actions taken within the App in visually appealing ways.

More important stories can be posted to the News Feed

By identifying patterns within a user’s News Feed, Facebook’s new GraphRank algorithm may deem the broadcasted action “relevant” enough and publish it to a friend’s News Feed. Keeping with the music App theme, a post might be important if several friends are listening to the same artist or if time is put into creating and publishing a Playlist. Simply playing a song, on the other hand, is considered a “lightweight” action and therefore kept in the Ticker.

Stories can be sponsored and promoted to the News Feed

Finally, let’s talk about our favorite subject, Facebook Ads. All of the real-time activity streaming past in the Ticker is available to be “sponsored”, whereby a marketer can promote those stories to a targeted subset of the user’s friends, via the new Graph Targeting capability. As we said yesterday, if you own the object or “noun,” you can create a story to promote any Open Graph action or “verb” (e.g., Jay-Z can promote any “listen” of his songs from any music app). Additionally, using Graph Targeting, you can target users who create specific connections with verbs and objects (e.g., you can target those people who have “listened” to Jay-Z ).

7 recommendations for marketers

This powerful feedback loop drives discovery, engagement, and potential targeting and messaging opportunities. Here are some suggestions around how to leverage this:

  1. Get onto the graph: Create an app and/or attach your site to the social graph via Facebook Connect and social plugins
  2. Go beyond Pages: Marketers (especially brand marketers) have long relied as the “fan page” as their only real presence on Facebook; it’s time to go beyond that to determine how to create a truly “social by design” experience that conveys your brand identity. Otherwise, you might find your messages are lost among all the real-time activity streaming from Open Graph Apps.
  3. Create stories: By going beyond the verb “like”, new opportunities are opened, whereby every offline experience and action that is inherently social can now be put online and be addressable. Think about “driving a new car” or “sampling a new beverage.”
  4. Analyze your audience: Dig deep into the patterns and trends of your users, and how they create and engage with their friends’ stories. This will be an essential step in determining how to leverage GraphRank to drive additional discovery.
  5. Use Sponsored Stories to drive Friend-of-friend awareness: Those stories that resonate most, should be plucked out of the Ticker in real-time and put into the News Feed to drive further engagement and interaction.
  6. Use GraphRank to make your Marketplace ads more effective: We are just scratching the surface around how Facebook is moving toward more intention-based advertising. And believe me, we’ll have lots more to say and show here in the future.
  7. Go beyond the click: Understand how your users behave once they are within your application — which actions they are driving, which ones they don’t. Finding others like them will become even more important than ever.

Putting it all together

To make this a little clearer, let’s take an example publicized at f8: someone “cooking” swish chard via a recipe app. If you were Stop & Shop, perhaps looking to drive registrations for the Pea Pod delivery service, this “action” is something you would want to target. Ultimately, this type of targeting will increase the pool of potential people to advertise to on Facebook (while I do not list cooking as an interest on Facebook, I often share updates when I do cook).

And perhaps more interesting are the new forms of behavioral targeting that will arrive based on combinations of actions, objects and people. If I “watch” a documentary of the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series on Netflix and one of my friends discovers this through the Ticker and watches himself, Ace Tickets would love to serve me and that friend a Sox ticket offer — together.

We hope this helps clarify how all of these pieces fit together into a new “social feedback loop.”  The advertising opportunities teased above are just the tip of the iceberg — and they won’t appear overnight. We look forward to helping App owners and marketers serve more valuable ads in more innovative ways, and pave the way for the future of social advertising.

Posted on September 23, 2011, in Insights & Resources and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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