Facebook Timeline for Brands Visual Overview

Today marked a day that we have been anticipating for a few weeks now. No not leap day, but the launch of Facebook’s timeline for Brand Pages. Brands have an option to now preview or publish their brand pages with the comprehensive roll-out happening on March 30, 2012.

Instead of going into a lot of detail out of the gate, I am changing the normal format and going with a more visual representation of changes as well as guidelines for some of the changes based on my roll-out of the BlackFin360 Timeline Brand Page.

Below is an example of the Legacy posts / Brand Milestones. Note the ability to append location & date and to post current & back-dated updates without pushing into the newsfeed. Also note that milestones will appear as full-page width updates vs. the staggered approach used for regular updates.

Once the milestone is published, you have the option to “pin the post” to create a semi-static piece of content towards the top of your brand timeline. Pins can be stories, photos, videos, campaigns, tab cross promotion, contests, etc… this is handy for promotions and highlighting key events or even simply highlighting your fan of the week. Once you have pinned a piece of content it has a “bookmark” signifying that it has been pinned.

Example of a pinned post

In future posts we will explore the ins and outs of the changes as well as what happened to custom landing pages as well as Like gating. But for now enjoy the visuals.

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Linkedin Launches Company Follow Button

Linkedin has proven to be an incredible asset for B2B Social Media Strategy & execution. With Hubspot defining Linkedin (45%) as the most effective B2B source for lead generation followed by Facebook at 33%.

With the roll-out of company status updates last October, Linkedin took the first step towards positioning itself as a marketing channel for brands. Now with Monday’s announcement of the Company Follow button, they are taking the next step in their follower ecosystem strategy.

Linkedin is now expanding the ability to follow a company beyond it’s core domain and now enabling organizations to allow individuals to follow them directly from their branded homepages or other owned properties by adding a quick code snippet to their branded pages. Brands such as Starbucks, AT&T and American Express are initial launch partners.

Similar in its impact as a Facebook like, the individual will receive status updates via their Linkedin feed. By extending the reach of the follow beyond Linkedin, the over 2 million companies in it’s network will have even greater opportunities to execute B2B content strategies both within Linkedin & their branded & owned channels.

Because B2B social is generally more targeted than B2C social, the ability to drive targeted interaction in one location while also providing a comprehensive footprint throughout the channel is key. Now with the ability to more closely associate the follow externally, it enables a more dynamic experience for the brand. As Linkedin can serve as a hub of services & 3rd party validation of those services via recommendations.

For those interested, here is the location to add the new company follow button to your branded website.

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IN FOCUS article 5 Brands Pushing the Envelope in Gaming

This morning my new article 5 brands pushing the envelope in gaming is the IN FOCUS cover story for iMedia Connection.

The article is an in-depth review of innovative campaigns from Jeep, Doritos, Oakley, Hyundai & Coca-Cola as well as quotes & commentary from Chris Erb, VP Brand Marketing for EA Sports.

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Facebook Timeline Brand Pages To Be Unveiled

For the past few weeks I have received numerous calls and e-mails on the topic of Facebook Brand Pages & the Timeline roll-out. There have been many discussions with Facebook, with those in the industry and internally looking past the roll out and how strategies will need to be adjusted based on the new direction.

All of the feedback pointed to the fMC or Facebook Marketing Conference on the 29th as the location to unveil Timeline centric brand pages. And with official outlets now reporting what we have known for a while now, such as Mashable’s post today, Timeline brand pages will be announced on leap year.

Since the roll-out of Timeline for general users, it was not an “if” but a “when” will brands have access to Timeline and what does this mean for a current brands strategy. What will happen to custom landing tabs? How will Timeline impact brand engagement and what about my custom apps?

There will be a phase of growing pains as brands transition and I will take a wait and see approach and follow up with a post shortly after the official roll-out as to not drive additional speculation, but there will be some potential changes that will definitely require a new approach in terms of user flow, especially if you deploy tactics that map paid elements to custom tabs to drive a specific user action.

You can see evidence of the shift toward Timeline support in some of the changes that are already rolling out on the self-service ad platform as well as the recent introduction of Timeline based apps and the desire to incorporate new verbs into users newsfeeds as well as expand the footprint of frictionless 3rd party services into Facebook.

Even before we had a date we had begun sharpening our pencils and reviewing current strategies to ensure that the new direction continues to support brand goals & objectives. I am definitely looking forward to the announcements on the 29th.

You can livestream the fMC event directly from their site.

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The Importance of Social Sign-On

We have all dealt with “YAN” in one form or another over the past few years. YAN stands for Yet Another Network login. This stems from brands using proprietary authentication methods vs. leveraging Open Authorization (OAuth) such as Facebook’s Graph API (OAuth 2.0). To put it simply, brands like to use their own username & passwords vs. allowing a user to login with their Facebook or Twitter ID’s.

YAN is an even bigger issue when combined with the fact that 88% of online buyers had at some point intentionally left registration information blank or used incorrect information when signing up for a new account, up 12% from 2010. Also, the expectation of consumers for brands to support Social Sign-On has increased significantly as eMarketer and Janrain recently reported that consumer desire for Social Sign-On has increased to 77% of US Online Buyers in 2011.

The importance of leveraging a single sign on authentication platform that is socially enabled becomes the key to unlocking a brands social CRM strategy. The reason for this is that Social Sign-On can lower the barrier of entry for a user, increase validity of data via the users social graph as well as increase stay rates.

According to recent research from Gigya, web users who log into 3rd party sites with Facebook’s Graph API spend 50% more time on those sites, and view twice as many pages. Think about the impact to a Fortune 500 retailer with 50% increase in stay rates and how that may impact purchase frequency.

When it comes to selecting which service is ideal for your brand, Gigya also released information that shows that Facebook accounts for 61% of those social logins.

Where social sign on really gets interesting is when a brand leverages an OAuth solution, such as Facebook’s Graph API. Instead of depending on a user to input a few sets of pre-determined data, you potentially have access to 180 data points to associate with the user. This includes the ability to access data tied to their feed, friends, activities, interests, music, books, movies, television, likes, checkins and more based on the users privacy settings.

This increases the probability of accurate subscriber data as well as the ability to append your proprietary questions on the back-end of the authorization of the user. Users in this scenario are more likely to share information as they are not repeating the information process. This also means that for a brand, the ability to build a robust profile around an individual beyond the standard data points such as basic demographic data and purchase history becomes a reality.

One of the more progressive brands when it comes to Social Sign-On is Nike.

Nike offers multiple options for authentication.

When you choose to login via Facebook, look at the data that Nike gains access to in one session…

A possible user scenario is as follows. Nike is about to become the uniform provider for the NFL in the upcoming 2012 season. Imagine if Nike had the ability to quickly scan the profile data of those who have authenticated via social sign-on and find team & athlete related Likes, game Checkin’s from the last season (Timeline makes this even easier), team related status updates, etc… tied to the users NFL team & players of choice. They would be able to proactively target those users with highly targeted and relevant offerings around the upcoming seasons jerseys and other merchandise that the user would then be compelled to engage.

This solution combined with other integrated tactics would most likely net better results than engaging in a mass e-mail/traditional campaign. Moving forward, the brands that understand how to leverage the immense amounts of data that individuals are providing via their social graph and then create relevant & highly targeted outreach campaigns will be the brands that will capitalize on socially enabled commerce.

As e-marketer shows below, in 2012 $3 billion in goods will be sold via social media this number jumps to $14 billion by 2015.

The key to this trend is not just positioning products via social channels, but lowering the barrier of entry, mapping CRM & social graph elements as well as highly targeted, relevant and timely offers via social & traditional channels.

The brands that understand how to better integrate their CRM programs with Social Graph data to create robust user profiles that are then the basis for executing their marketing strategy will be the winners.

It should be noted that integration of SSO is a cross departmental effort and this is one of the primary reasons more fortune 500 organizations have not adopted this method. It will take visionary executives who understand the value of data integration to push SSO forward.

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Mobile Gamings Potential For Brand Engagement via P4RC

Reaching mobile consumers is on the thoughts and minds of brand managers heading into 2012 and beyond. The challenge is to drive meaningful engagement across a highly fragmented landscape while providing a positive & relevant experience to the consumer.

Mobile gaming appears to be an ideal target for brand engagement as 70-80% of all mobile downloads are games with the average iPhone user spending 14.7 hours a month playing those games. Currently, 64.5 million people in the US played mobile casual games at least once a month. This will rise to 94.9 million in the US by 2014. Translation people are gaming via mobile.

Has anyone not played Angry Birds?

The issue at this point in time is that the current landscape is highly scattered with over 72,000 games in the Apple App store from thousands of developers and in-app advertising leaving many brands frustrated with their mobile engagement rates.

One newly launched service is looking to change the game by promising higher user engagement rates combined with positive brand associations. P4RC, Inc. is a new service that connects consumer brands to mobile users with a platform that converts user engagement in their favorite gaming apps into P4RC points, which can be redeemed for real-world rewards.

The basic premise is that players play games they are already playing and earn gift cards from top retailers just for playing.

The key for P4RC brand programs is the ability for brands to reach across multiple games and reward behaviors that users are already engaged in.

P4RC’s brand programs include sponsoring their “Race to Win” segments, which call for users to play and earn P4RC points within a period of time to redeem brand rewards as well as offers directly from brands.

Example of Race to Win

Example of Brand Offer

By sponsoring our Race 2 Win competitions, brands can be inserted into the mobile gaming experience in a manner that is actually relevant to that experience.  This makes the brand part of the fun rather than an unwanted intrusion, which is often the case with other forms of mobile advertising” said Jason Seldon, Founder & CEO of P4RC.

By integrating the achievement network completely within the game, the barrier of leaving the app for a mobile web experience is removed. The user is free to review current Race’s 2 win, redeem rewards and view their account all within the current app they are playing.

In the first week of launch, players have already redeemed their P4RC points for over $1,000 in rewards from brands such as Starbucks & Best Buy.

At launch, P4RC’s achievement network is currently tied to “Stop Those Fish“, which is currently featured by Apple as a New & Noteworthy app in the Apple App Store and announced a partnership with Eye Interactive to include the new P4RC rewards network in all Eye Interactive games.

P4RC is also forming key partnerships with mobile developers. “By adding the P4RC rewards network to their games, game developers benefit from a powerful marketing & customer retention engine that drives user engagement, resulting in an increase in game downloads and longer duration of game play.”

Services such as P4RC provide compelling incentives for brands and users alike by rewarding existing behaviors, socially enabling the experience and lowering the barrier of entry to participate across apps.

An Android friendly version of P4RC will be launching this Summer.

Thanks to Jason Seldon, Founder & CEO of P4RC for data included in this post.

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