The Facebook Marketing Bible April 2012 Edition Is Now Available

The new Timeline format for Facebook pages brings new opportunities for marketers and advertisers on the platform. Optimize your Facebook page for the new format with the April 2012 edition of the Facebook Marketing Bible: The Leading Resource for Marketing and Advertising on Facebook.

In the April 2012 edition we cover new and emerging topics for marketers and advertisers, including Timeline for pages, the upcoming Recommendations Bar Social Plugin, and an analysis of the fluctuations of Facebook advertising rates.

In addition, this month we’ve launched a brand new website and content structure so you can find what you’re looking for faster. It’s mobile-friendly too, so you can read it on any smartphone or mobile device.

About the Facebook Marketing Bible

The Facebook Marketing Bible has enabled thousands of brands, app developers, content publishers and businesses of all sizes to do more with Facebook, from the basics of creating a successful fan page, to the complexities of social plugin integration on an off-Facebook website.

The Facebook Marketing Bible includes hundreds of pages of strategies, comprehensive how-to guides and case studies analyzing today’s most successful marketing and advertising campaigns on Facebook. Take a tour of the Facebook Marketing Bible.

Recent Additions to the Facebook Marketing Bible:

Ready to take your marketing and advertising campaigns to the next level? Subscribe to the Facebook Marketing Bible today.

Facebook adds new public data to page Timelines, lets businesses assess competitors

As part of the latest update to pages, Facebook has made new public insights data accessible to any user who visits a page.

While the new public insights are not likely to be used by most Facebook users, they will help page owners understand the growth trends and performance of pages other than their own. Some businesses might not appreciate particular metrics and growth trends being visible to competitors, but they benefit equally by getting to assess other pages.

Further, by providing a more diverse display of data, the social network continues to de-emphasize total Like count as a means of judging the success of a page. This is aligned with the company’s push to get marketers and advertisers to focus on engagement rather than growth, as well as its emphasis on stories.

Modules like the one above are accessed by clicking the Likes tab or by visiting Facebook.com/[page name]/likes. The module displays three items that were not previously available to the public: “Most Popular Week,” “Most Popular City” and “Most Popular Age Group.” There is also a graph that tracks “People Talking About This” and “New Likes Per Week” over a one month period.

For pages that are associated with a location, the module displays three additional items: “Photos Tagged Here,” “Most Visited Week,” and “Largest Party.” Largest Party is the highest number of people who checked into a place at a single time. Below are the public insights for the American Museum of Natural History, where Facebook held a conference for marketers on Wednesday.

Previously, Facebook only displayed two metrics publicly: total Likes and People Talking About This. The new numbers are displayed in what Facebook is calling a “view,” alongside native and third-party apps. (Native apps include Facebook Photos, Map and Events.) Page owners can choose the order in which views and apps are presented so that some appear in the top row and others are only visible after clicking to see more.

New Likes, People Talking About This and Visits (check-ins) are also displayed publicly in the monthly summary sections of pages’ Timelines.

For marketers, this is a new way to understand how competitors are performing on Facebook. Businesses can use that information to establish benchmarks for their own efforts. Most marketers have little to compare their Facebook growth and engagement to. For a long time, the only way to know how companies were doing on the social network was to look at total Likes. This became a skewed metric as more pages began to buy fans and launch programs that inflated their numbers but didn’t result in lasting engagement. With more public insights, it will be harder for companies to appear more successful than they truly are.

Additional reporting by Brittany Darwell.

Facebook monetizes users logging out with premium ad placement on logout page

Facebook announced today that premium ads will be displayed on a new “logout experience” page, immediately after Facebook users log out of Facebook using their desktop web browser. This is part of a significant overhaul of its premium advertising options available to advertisers working directly with the company.

Previously, when users logged out of Facebook, they were redirected to the logged-out home page that prompts users to either login or register a new account. Now the page can feature a very large and prominent ad, which logically replaces the signup portion of the page that is not relevant to users who already have Facebook accounts. Below is a sample photo, provided by Facebook, of the logout experience page:

Though many Facebook users stay logged in for long periods, this potentially represents monetization of hundreds of millions of monthly pageviews that previously display advertising. The addition of premium ads to the logout page will help Facebook generate enough impressions to reach the 75 percent of fans that it guarantees through its Reach Generator solution for Premium advertisers, also announced today.

Any premium page post ad is eligible to be shown on the logout screen. This includes videos, photos, offers, events and questions. A user does not have to be connected to a page in order to see this type of ad.

Stay tuned for more coverage of today’s fMC event, and see our liveblog of the keynote presentation.

Facebook launches mobile ads: Sponsored Stories and Premium page post ads within News Feed

At today’s fMC event in New York City, Facebook announced that Sponsored Stories and Premium ads will begin to appear in News Feed on m.facebook.com and native iOS and Android apps. This marks the first time the company has brought ads into its mobile products and is part of a significant update to its marketing and advertising products, centered around the introduction of Timeline for businesses.

Sponsored Stories in the mobile News Feed will appear similar to Sponsored Stories on the desktop News Feed, which were introduced in January. Premium ads are only available to advertisers working directly with Facebook representatives, not from the self-serve or Ads API tools.

While the introduction of Sponsored Stories to the mobile News Feed was expected, the appearance of Premium Ads in both the desktop and mobile News Feed (as opposed to their previous position on the right side of the desktop homepage) is very new. This allows premium advertisers to reach fans connected to their Page from within News Feed, even if there is no friend activity that could generate a Sponsored Story. While Premium ads in the News Feed are still relevant to the user, as they are only displayed to users who have already liked a given page, they are arguably less organic than Facebook’s past offering of Sponsored Stories in the News Feed, as they are focused on promoting content at scale, rather than friend activity on a Page.

Users who do not want to see promoted page posts in News Feed can unlike those pages. However, if a friend interacts with a page and the page is paying for Sponsored Stories, those items can show on desktop and  mobile.

Stay tuned for more coverage of today’s fMC event, and see our liveblog of the keynote presentation here.

Facebook introduces Reach Generator packaged advertising solution to boost page posts

At today’s fMC event in New York City, Facebook announced Reach Generator, a new premium advertising solution for large clients seeking to reach a higher percentage of fans via sponsored activity.

Reach Generator allows advertisers to pay Facebook on an ongoing basis, as opposed to a CPC or CPM basis, to sponsor one page post every day, and guarantee a 75 percent reach of the page’s fanbase over a month-long period. The company said that test partners, including Ben & Jerry’s, were able to reach 98 percent of their page’s fans using Reach Generator, a massive increase over the 16 percent of fans that Pages, on average, reach without ads or Sponsored Stories.

Reach Generator was outlined briefly on Facebook’s mobile site for the event, and then hidden from view. Below is the text from Facebook’s description of Reach Generator:

Make sure your fans see your stories

This “always on” packaged solution makes it easy for you to regularly reach and engage 75% of your fans with meaningful content from your Page. You focus on creating engaging content on your newly designed Page, while we ensure that your fans see the stories you are telling.

  • Reach Generator is easy and simple to use.
  • You post great, relevant content on your Page, and Facebook will automatically distribute it to your fans.
  • We guarantee you will reach a majority of your fans and see great results.

Liveblogging Inside Social Apps: Social Apps for Marketers and Brands, Maximizing Audience Engagement

We’re at the San Francisco Design center, blogging Inside Network’s third annual Inside Social Apps conference. The final panel of the day focused on how marketers and brands can use social apps to maximize audience engagement.

Joining moderator Josh Constine, of Techcrunch, were Context Optional CEO Kevin Barenblat, Buddy Media Senior VP Carla Bourque, Facebook Page Product Manager Russ Heddleston, Starz Media VP of Digital Media David Katz, Hearsay Social CEO and Starbucks Board Director Clara Shih.

All of the panelists agreed that building mobile experiences and applications is becoming increasingly important for brand marketers. Shih, of Hearsay Social, and Barenblat, of Context Optional, said that developing application experiences that involve the user being physically present at a retail store have potential for both marketers and developers. Bourque, of Buddy Media, said her company’s mobile focus was primarily on enabling social commerce at scale and driving conversions.

While panelists agreed that building applications for mobile will be increasingly important, their take on building Open Graph applications was mixed. Shih, of Hearsay Social noted that for lifestyle brands, Open Graph represents a significant opportunity because of its ability to connect identity to brands and products. For small or local brands and companies, or those outside of the lifestyle space, Open Graph might not be a good fit. The consensus was that developers and marketers should focus on testing new ideas and generating success at a small scale in order to demonstrate impact, and build upon that.

When asked about the future of page tab applications, and whether they will become mobile compatible at some point in the future, Heddleston, of Facebook, did not make any definitive statement. He reinforced the importance of mobile in Facebook’s overall strategy and noted, “We haven’t yet come out with a separate solution for tab applications for mobile, it’s something we’re looking into, and something that would make sense.”

The panelists discussed some of the factors that go into deciding whether businesses should develop custom applications for their page or work with platform templates. The general consensus was that custom development might not be cost-efficient for some companies, but business objectives should ultimately drive the decision. Shih, of Hearsay Social, said that she’s seen a 50-50 split among larger clients — half begin with a template from Hearsay’s app gallery and half are completely custom experiences developed by another digital agency.

As far as brand integration within existing apps, such as popular social games, the panelists emphasized how distribution and engagement are key things brands should look for before spending money on placement. Katz, of Starz Media, said he especially looks for examples of what an app developer has done before and wants to know that a company has delivered results for similar brands in the past.

60 million monthly users engage with apps on Facebook mobile platform; average 5 times per month

Facebook Director of Product Management Carl Sjogreen revealed that more than 60 million monthly users engage with mobile applications via Facebook, 320 million times per month since the mobile platform launched in October 2011. Sjogreen shared this statistic during a fireside chat with Founder of Inside Network Justin Smith at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco.

[Update 2/9/12 12:47 p.m. - An earlier draft of this story was unclear that the 60 million users who engage with apps on Facebook's mobile application are monthly active users.]

This means that 60 million users navigate to either mobile web or native applications that integrated with Facebook each month, and these users engage with apps roughly five times per month. With 425 million monthly active users who access the social network via mobile, this also means that roughly 14 percent of Facebook’s mobile users engage with third-party apps directly from the mobile platform. The company has not offered numbers on how many of its 425 million mobile users have smartphone devices that are capable of running third-party Facebook apps.

When asked about the value proposition of HTML5 to application and app developers, Sjogreen said, “We don’t really care whether developers build for mobile web or native apps,” noting that in his view, the decision is not either-or. Instead, Sjogreen made the point that ”The people you want to play with trump whatever the platform the app is on. If your fundmental gameplay revolves around interacting with friends, then being cross platform is really important.”

Many developers face a dilemma. They can develop native apps for iOS and Android, which can include advanced functionality and graphics, but are often more costly and difficult to maintain. Alternatively, developers can build HTML5-compatible mobile web applications, which lack some of the advanced features of native apps, but can accessed on any platform, which significantly reduces development costs and enables all users to access their apps.

Sjogreen’s comments reinforce that Facebook will support all developers, but emphasizes cross-platform compatibility as an increasingly important factor to consider. This makes sense in the context of building social applications where users interact with friends across different platforms and devices. For app distribution and notifications through Facebook to work effectively for users, apps need to be accessible on whichever device an individual is using at the moment they receive a notification or see activity in News Feed or Ticker.

For more coverage of Sjogreen’s fireside chat from Inside Social Apps today, see our liveblog summary here.

Facebook reveals it actively increased ad prices in Q4 2011

In its S-1 filing earlier today, Facebook revealed that it took steps to increase the reserve price in its advertising auction system, which increased the minimum bid for some advertisers.

[...] in the fourth quarter of 2011, we increased the reserve price (i.e., the minimum price threshold) in our advertising auction system in order to reduce the frequency with which low quality ads are displayed to users. This change caused a reduction in the overall number of ads shown and increased the average price per ad as a result of factors including the removal of ads with bids that were below the reserve price and some advertisers raising their bids in response to this change.

Gradual increases to the reserve price could be the primary means by which Facebook increases revenue as demand for Facebook ads grows in upcoming years. When the reserve price increases, advertisers with the lowest bids are priced out of their ads being displayed and react by increasing their bids. This subsequently pushes the competition to raise bids. In effect, bid prices cascade upwards as advertisers with the lowest bids force higher bids from advertisers above them.

Facebook beta plugin turns any website into an Open Graph app

This post is an excerpt from the NEW, revamped Facebook Marketing Bible — a major update to the leading resource for marketing and advertising strategies on Facebook. If you’re interested in learning more about this upcoming update, check out a preview at The Facebook Marketing Bible.

The Recommendations Bar is one of Facebook’s newest social plugins, and the first to integrate the social reading and frictionless sharing capabilities of Open Graph. Put simply, the Recommendations Bar allows any website to implement the same social reading and social recommendation features found in “social reader” style applications from the Washington Post, The Guardian or USA Today. The plugin is still in beta, which means that when installed, it is only viewable to developers and testers associated with the website or application. Normal site visitors cannot yet see or interact with the plugin. However, once the Recommendations Bar becomes publicly accessible, we expect it to be a highly effective tool for any news site looking to increase referral traffic and reader engagement.

The recommendations bar is displayed on either the bottom right or bottom left corner of the user’s browser window:

When the user gets to the bottom of an article, the Recommendations Bar expands to reveal two to five recommended pages from the same website:

The Recommendations Bar enables three essential social  functions:

Social recommendations

The Recommendations Bar prompts readers with other articles when they finish the one they’re reading, using Social Graph data to recommend the most relevant articles. This includes articles that a user’s friends have liked or articles that have received a high volume of likes and comments. Essentially, the same “secret sauce” that goes into ranking News Feed posts and Comments is leveraged in the Recommendations Bar, ensuring that readers are recommended articles that are relevant to their interests and social connections.

Omnipresent Like Button that “follows” the user

The Recommendations Bar creates a Like button that doesn’t move, even when users scrolls or resize their browser windows. Many sites currently struggle to determine the most effective placement for the Like button. Should it appear at the top near the byline? At the end of the article near the comments section? As part of the sidebar? The Recommendations bar is a much more elegant solution, as it eliminates the need to place a Like button in a particular location on a given page — its position is relative to the user’s browser window, not relative to site content. While this can be done using relatively simple HTML and CSS, Facebook’s solution is even simpler to implement, and the sizing and display has been thought through down to the pixel.

Social reading through frictionless sharing

The Recommendations Bar allows users to turn on social reading, the same functionality that’s available within canvas applications like the Washington Post Social Reader, USAToday + Me, and The Guardian. Except while those companies spent time and money creating a canvas application within Facebook, the Recommendations Bar provides the same functionality on any pre-existing website, with minimal effort. If you’ve seen stories pop up in your News Feed and Ticker like Brendan read “Facebook CEO speaks out against SOPA, PIPA” on Washington Post Social Reader, the Recommendations Plugin can generate the same kind of rich Open Graph story.

Continue reading for a preview of the NEW Facebook Marketing Bible coming in February!

How Facebook Comments impact Google search rankings

This post provides a brief introduction to Google’s update; content publishers and webmasters should read on for the full, free, overview at The Facebook Marketing Bible.

Google’s November 2011 changes to its web crawler have created new opportunities and liabilities for all websites implementing Facebook Comments, with important implications for SEO. Webmasters who properly implement and manage Facebook Comments stand to gain, but the recent changes could significantly hurt the rankings of sites who do not properly prevent and manage spam.

Google announced last November that it had begun indexing Javascript and AJAX content, without requiring webmasters to implement workarounds. While Google has not yet claimed to be indexing 100 percent of Javascript and AJAX content, it became clear soon after the change that Facebook Comments, which is displayed using AJAX and HTML5, are now indexed by Google.

Facebook Comments Example

Previously, in order to get Google’s crawler to index Facebook Comments, webmasters had to use a workaround like displaying an duplicate plain-text version of Comments that was visible to Google’s site crawler, but invisible to visitors, who would still see the regular Facebook Comments.

This workaround required webmasters to use the Facebook Graph API to pull Comments (access to Comments through the Graph API was announced on the Facebook Developer Blog in April). The technical nature of this workaround meant that few websites implemented it, and therefore, for most sites, Facebook Comments had no impact on Google Search rankings.

Given the November change, Facebook Comments are now indexed by Google without any workaround. Since Google’s search rankings are affected by the quality and relevance of the text on a given page, as well as the quantity and quality of outbound links, this change means that any site visitor can affect search rankings by commenting. Quality, relevant comments and links may help boost a page’s ranking, but spam in Facebook Comments may also hurt rankings.

To learn more about the specific advantages of Facebook Comments for site owners, read on for our free, detailed overview in the Facebook Marketing Bible, where we cover:

  • Facebook Comments versus Disqus, ECHO, and IntenseDebate
  • Who should use Facebook Comments? A few examples of live sites that are doing it well
  • Getting a search ranking lift through Facebook Comments
  • Facebook Comments and the spam risk

>> Click to Continue Reading

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