“People worry that technology will disconnect us, but study after study…has shown that it strengthens us,” said Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg today in New York City.
What Facebook’s technology is doing, is connecting brands with human beings. Facebook has enabled marketers to take advantage of the same technology that all of us have. “It enables brands to find their voices… and to have genuine, personal relationships with their customers,” says Sandberg.
At the Facebook Marketing Conference (fMC), its first global event designed for marketers at New York’s Natural History Museum, Facebook made it clear that it is a partnership company. Just as social media transformed gaming, it’s now transforming all companies. But Facebook says it hasn’t led these transformations. “It’s we, all together,” Sandberg said. “If we’re going to make marketing truly social, it won’t be us, it’s going to be you.”
Facebook’s VP of Product, Chris Cox took the stage after Sandberg to take the crowd through the evolution of Facebook’s product, moving beyond college gossip to news articles and major life events, as well as “lots and lots of pictures of food”.
Addressing the marketers in the room, Cox acknowledges that brands on the platform are its best content creators. “There’s only one more thing that this company will work on,” he says. And that’s the ability to bring Facebook’s interactive human directory with you everywhere. Facebook’s vision for marketers is that brands will be able to interact with customers in ways just as rich and dynamic as families and friends.
Mike Hoefflinger, Director of Global Business Marketing of Facebook was up next, kicking off his speech with the idea that social media is bringing back the relationship between customers and brands to the “good old days” when the guy behind the pharmacy counter knew your name.
Today, Facebook unveiled its latest social technologies for marketers and brands. First up: Pages for your business, now with Timeline. “The richest, most customizable marketing cavas we’ve ever built,” says Hoefflinger of the new product, which looks smart across all platforms- web, mobile and tablet.
But news was already buzzing across the web this morning regarding the new brand pages. The biggest news at today’s event was Facebook’s new “Premium Offers” for brands, which had folks in the audience wondering if #fMC stands for #forMoreCash.
What are Facebook Premium Offers?
Essentially, Facebook has decided to turn its social network into a massive marketing platform. ”Premium offers on Facebook are the best way to get your stories in front of more people, more often…This is your opportunity to express your identity and tell your stories,” said Hoefflinger.
The offers are new placements for premium advertising and Sponsored Stories, much like Twitter’s Sponsored Tweets. ”Premium on Facebook is the most impactful way to distribute your content on Facebook,” Hoefflinger continued. “Entirely unsurprisingly, pages will be mission controlled. You start with a page post, then you begin to increase your distribution. Over the last few years while testing the efficacy of Premium, Facebook has seen that it can hit 3X ROI for brands.
“We found that fans are twice as valuable as the general population based on purchase behavior. These aren’t just customers, these are the best customers,” said Hoefflinger. To take advantage of that, Facebook introduced its “Reach Generator”, a new product that guarantees that 75% of your fans will see your brand’s content each month. According to Hoefflinger, Ben & Jerry’s was able to double its total engagement and increase sales at a 3 to 1 ROI using Facebook’s Reach Generator tool.
To use it, first marketers have to understand what content is engaging. “What stories do your fans take a liking to the most? Seals? Puppies? What’s your understand that, our Reach Generator can be used to increase distribution,” he said. “Brands will also benefit from increased engagement from people telling stories on top of brand’s stories. Talking to fans alone is not an end result.”
Starting today, brand stories will be eligible for distribution on the Facebook Newsfeed, to be displayed alongside updates from your friends and family. To put it simply, marketing on Facebook is going to feel like the rest of Facebook. And Newsfeed isn’t just on desktop, it’s on mobile and tablet too.
In addition to “marketer’s stories” (i.e. advertisements) displayed on brand pages and in the Newsfeed, users will be hit with “stories” during the log-out experience. That’s right. On your way out the door, Facebook will be pushing ads and offers to you too. This will affect the 37 million people in the US who log out of Facebook every day, starting in April.
“One story, one creative and we’ll take care of the reach and engagement and distributing that story throughout Facebook,” Hoefflinger said. While marketers will now be able to “reach more fans”, users may very likely feel chased down by a band of cowboys with lassos in hand.