Facebook hides page content from logged-out users

[Update 6/20/12 10:30 a.m. PT - Facebook says not being able to access pages while logged out is a bug and it is working on a fix.]

[Update 6/20/12 11:58 a.m. PT - Facebook appears to have resolved this issue. Users can once again see posts, apps and other page info even when they are not signed in.]

Facebook pages are no longer visible to users who are logged out of the social network.

Users who visit fan pages without being signed into Facebook will not be able to see any details on a page’s Timeline besides a login dialog. However, when users enter their email and password, they are redirected to News Feed, not the page they originally landed on. This could be detrimental for pages and particularly for those paying for logout ads.

It is unclear when this change was made and how widely it has been rolled out. It’s possible that this is a bug, but Facebook has not yet responded with more information.

Hiding content until users log in makes sense for the social network, which wants to bring users back into its platform and encourage users to stay logged in so they can use social plugins and integrations across the web. But taking users to News Feed rather than refreshing the page they had been on is not a good user experience and it has implications for the millions of fan pages seeking new Likes and engagement.

The number of users visiting a specific business or community page without being logged into Facebook is likely insignificant for most pages most of the time. However, organizations that promote their pages through email, print, online banners or other means outside of Facebook could miss out on conversions because the social network hides their content and pushes people to News Feed instead of their page.

This change is even more likely to affect Facebook’s own premium advertisers paying for the new logout experience ad. Although the ads are typically aimed at generating awareness and video views moreso than gaining new Likes and comments, the barrier of the redirect reduces the advertiser’s opportunity for earned media. Samsung is currently running logout ads in the U.S., for example. Even after clicking the name of the page directly from the ad, logged out users will not be able to see more Samsung content unless they sign in and then navigate back to the page manually. This is not ideal for advertisers who are likely paying around $700,000 for these logout ads and homepage units.

Facebook still allows logged-out users to see some public aspects of individual user profiles, but it does not show and recent or past posts, even if they are open to the public. Logged-out users are also barred from seeing a user’s Facebook or app activity on Timeline unless they have a direct link to the content.

Facebook to launch subscription billing for apps, transition from Credits to local currency

Facebook will soon support subscription billing for apps on its platform, according to a post on the company’s developer blog. The company will also phase out Credits in favor of a user’s local currency — dollars, pounds or yen, for example.

Subscriptions will launch to all developers in July, though Zynga and Kixeye are already testing the feature for their games. This change gives developers a way to charge users on a monthly basis, rather than relying on individual virtual goods purchases. The alternative model could help developers and Facebook better monetize. It could also be a start to getting non-game developers to try Facebook’s payment platform.

As our sister blog Inside Social Games explains, subscriptions could lead players to spend more in games and also makes Facebook a better option for developers of free-to-play browser-based massively multiplayer online role-playing games.

We’ve previously written about how the social network was likely to introduce subscriptions as a way to monetize non-game applications. Because Facebook Credits aren’t required for these apps, only a few developers use them. For example, some studios offer movie rentals for Facebook Credits. These companies might now consider testing a subscription model that gives users access to more movies or special features if they sign up for a multi-month package. Facebook subscriptions will also support free trial periods, which could incentive users to sign up.

Other businesses built on Facebook, such as professional networking app BranchOut or news apps like Washington Post Social Reader, might find uses for subscriptions, however the social network’s 30 percent fee is likely to turn off many developers. For companies like Spotify and Netflix, which have to pay huge licensing fees to rights-holders, losing 30 percent simply isn’t an option unless they significantly increased their prices. But at higher price points, consumers might not decide to subscribe at all. [Update 6/19/12 2:08 p.m. PT - A screenshot of a sample subscription settings page on Facebook's developer site includes Spotify, MOG and RunKeeper as sample apps using subscriptions. It's unclear whether these are simply examples or actual developers in the beta program.]

Although the 30 percent fee is standard for app platforms like Apple and Android, it is far more than what online payments systems like PayPal charge. PayPal takes a 2.9 percent fee plus a $0.30-fee for each transaction. Facebook acknowledged in a regulatory filing that it might reduce its fee, but for now the 30 percent seems to stand.

Facebook, though, is in a unique position to streamline payments and offer developers useful data about who’s paying for subscriptions. If businesses can automatically gather information they would otherwise have to ask users for through forms, Facebook’s payments platform would be more attractive. Ease of implementation, increasing conversions and providing useful reporting are all areas the social network will need to improve as it expands its payments business.

With the latest phase out of Credits and by now supporting pricing in local currency, Facebook can simplify the purchase experience and give developers more flexibility. Developers will be able to set more granular and consistent prices for non-U.S. users and price the same item differently on a market-by-market basis. This also eliminates any confusion that resulted from users trying to think about conversion rates for dollars, Credits and in-game currency. Facebook says it will convert any Credit balances into the equivalent amount of value in users’ local currency, which they can spend on in-app items in the same way they do today. People can still redeem gift cards and store unused balances in their account. Any apps or games that sell virtual items will be required to use local currency by the end of the year.

The company first introduced what it called “Pay with Facebook” in May 2009. That eventually got combined with the Credits program associated with virtual gifts that users could buy and post to each other’s profiles. In July 2011, Facebook made Credits mandatory for social games, leading payments and fees revenue to make up about 18 percent of the company’s revenue in its most recent quarter — up from a 13 percent in Q1 2011. Only 15 million users — fewer than 2 percent of total monthly active users — paid for virtual goods on the platform in 2011. Facebook has helped individual game developers who wanted to implement a recurring pay cycle in the past, but for the most part, subscriptions haven’t been an option until now.

A Look at George Takei’s Tactics in Engaging a Social Media Following

This post is an excerpt from our Facebook Marketing Bible, the leading resource for marketing and advertising strategies on Facebook. The full analysis is available for subscribers at The Facebook Marketing Bible.

George Takei, of original Star Trek fame, has most recently taken the social media world by storm with outstanding engagement numbers from a dedicated fanbase.

Originally created in March 2011, Takei’s page now reaches more than 2 million fans. Impressively, Takei receives engagement numbers similar to that of Eminem and Rihanna, both boasting over 40 million likes. His is one of the few pages with more People Talking About This than total Likes.

However, Takei’s user engagement is by no coincidence. He employs certain strategies and details that optimize his engagement numbers. He takes advantage of his audience’s responsiveness and motivates them to engage with his posts. Takei is a great example of creating a following and engaging fans with posts that are relevant to fans. The page is built on the content, and self-promotion takes the backseat.

To learn more about George Takei’s engagement tactics and how to employ them yourself, see our detailed overview in The Facebook Marketing Bible. We’ll examine how Takei thrives in four key areas:

  • Consistency
  • Virality
  • Personality
  • Community
Read the full analysis by subscribing to The Facebook Marketing Bible here.

Facebook lets users know how many interest lists they’re featured on, but still no info for pages

Facebook users who allow public subscribers can now see which interest lists they have been added to by visiting the subscribers tab on Timeline.

The change gives public figures a more complete understanding of their reach on Facebook. Previously, users could see the number of users directly subscribed to their public updates, but they could not see whether users were following interest lists that they appeared on. Facebook pages, however, still don’t get any information about how many users see their content through interest lists.

Facebook introduced interest lists in March as a way to let users organize their News Feed by topic. Users can add pages and users to lists without Liking pages or subscribing to users directly. This is similar to Twitter’s list feature, but with Twitter, any account can see which public lists it appears on and how many subscribers that list has.

Interest list numbers are useful for users who have enabled subscribe since they do not otherwise get any analytics about the reach or audience for their public posts. Pages can track reach and demographics through the insights tool, but it’s unclear whether the “Reach” metric tracks users who don’t Like the page, but who see its updates through an interest list.

Like brands can do on Twitter, Facebook page owners should be able to get a full picture of how users are following their accounts. Now that the social network has made this information available to individual users, perhaps it will release it for pages soon.

Users who allow public subscribers can see whether they appear on any lists and how many people they reach through those lists by visiting the subscribers tab on Timeline. This information is also available to the public, which could help more users discover interest lists to follow.

Facebook launches portal page to help users follow Olympic Games and athletes

Facebook has launched the Explore London 2012 page in collaboration with the London 2012 Olympics to help users find and Like pages related to the games.

Described as a way “to help everyone get the most out of the Games,” the dashboard includes links to the main Olympics pages, as well as those of athletes, national teams and sports. Although the page does not include advertisements, Facebook says it will soon include pages of broadcasters and sponsors. Available in 22 languages, the page already has 100 million connections between fans and athletes with the potential to reach more than 900 million people.

 

Similar to Facebook’s Pages Browser, clicking on a name or image does not direct users to the fan page, but instead makes the user Like the page. In order to reach the actual athlete or sport page, users must click “View Page” in the bottom right corner of the section.

Although the Olympics already has its own portal to find and follow athletes on Facebook and Twitter, it seems as if the London Olympics is trying to take advantage of the already established Facebook community. The games may find more success using the Facebook space instead of leading fans to register for a separate service.

Mark Adams, the Director of Communications of the International Olympic Committee said in a press release, “It makes sense to give fans the best experience we can and these will be the first truly ‘social’ Games.”

Facebook acquires facial recognition company Face.com

Facebook has agreed to acquire facial recognition technology company Face.com, according to a post on Face.com.

The Israeli company builds facial recognition software for web and mobile applications, which can identify and tag people in a photo or help users discover photos of themselves they didn’t know were online. TechCrunch reports that the acquisition price was around $100 million.

Facebook has used face recognition to suggest photo tags on its desktop site since 2010. Its latest mobile camera app doesn’t include this feature, but following the acquisition, it could do something similar to Face.com’s Klik app. Klik uses face recognition to let users tag their friends in real time. It also allows users to apply and adjust photo filters based on faces found in an image.

Face.com founder and CEO Gil Hirsch suggested in his blog post that his team would be focused on mobile when it joins the social network company.

“We love building products, and like our friends at Facebook, we think that mobile is a critical part of people’s lives as they both create and consume content, and share content with their social graph,” Hirsch wrote. “By working with Facebook directly, and joining their team, we’ll have more opportunities to build amazing products that will be employed by consumers – that’s all we’ve ever wanted to do.”

Face.com says it will continue to support the developer community that uses its APIs, though it did not say what would happen to its own apps like Klik.

Rumors of Facebook acquiring Face.com began in 2011 and resurfaced last month. The company, which was founded in 2007, has about 14 employees, according to LinkedIn. It has raised a total of $5.3 million from Yandex and Rhodium.

The following screenshots are from Klik:

Facebook looking to introduce real-time location-based ads to monetize mobile market

Facebook is working on real-time location-based mobile ads, according to Bloomberg.

[Update 6/18/12 12:10 p.m. PT - Facebook tells TechCrunch it did not confirm that such a product is in the works, though we have heard previously from sources that it is.]

The company has been testing several new ad products, and apparently showed almost a dozen ideas in April to a client council including corporate and agency executives. Although Facebook did not share details about how location-based ads would appear on users’ phones, it seems they could involve the social network’s new offers product.

“Phones can be location-specific so you can start to imagine what the product evolution might look like over time, particularly for retailers,” Facebook VP of Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson told Bloomberg. “We’ve had offers being tested over the last couple of months.”

[Update 6/18/12 1:11 p.m. PT - This is the quote Bloomberg extrapolated to claim Facebook will release a location-based ad product. Although our own sources have told us they are aware of a new location-based ad offering being developed, Facebook says in a statement, “We’re always looking at different opportunities across mobile, but we have nothing to announce this time.”]

A real-time location-based advertising option would be most significant to retailers and restaurants, which want to reach consumers when they are nearby. It’s unclear whether Facebook would use push notifications to show users these ads. A few months ago, we suggested this would be unlikely unless it was opt-in for users. Since the Facebook Marketing Conference, however, the company has gotten more aggressive about testing new forms of advertising, including asking users to pay to highlight their posts and allowing cookie-based retargeting ads to appear on the site.

The social network will need to be cautious about how it implements mobile advertising, however, because with screen space so limited, ads are more disruptive than they are on desktop. Offers will have to be extremely relevant and high value to warrant a push notification or an ad at the top of a user’s News Feed. Location-based ads also run the risk of making users feel like they are being constantly tracked.

Currently, Facebook allows mobile advertising in the form of Sponsored Stories, which are page posts or interactions that advertisers pay to promote to more fans or friend of fans. Because Sponsored Stories require a person’s friend to validate a piece of content by interacting with it in some way before it is shown as an ad, Facebook is not giving companies a direct ticket into the News Feed. The company might begin with something similar for its location-based ads. For instance, a user or one of their friends might have to have Liked a page or checked into a location previously in order for a mobile offer to be served to them.

This week’s headlines from across Inside Network

A roundup of all the news Inside Network brought you between June 11 and 16.

Inside Mobile Apps

Tracking the convergence of mobile apps, social platforms and virtual goods.

Monday, June 11

Tuesday, June 12

Wednesday, June 13

Thursday, June 14

Friday, June 15

Saturday, June 16

Inside Social Games

Covering all the latest developments at the intersection of games and social platforms.

Monday, June 11

Tuesday, June 12

Wednesday, June 13

Thursday, June 14

Friday, June 15

Saturday, June 16

Sunday, June 17

Inside Facebook

Tracking Facebook and the Facebook platform for developers and marketers.

Monday, June 11

Tuesday, June 12

Wednesday, June 13

Thursday, June 14

Friday, June 15

Saturday, June 16

Facebook stock above $30, denial of IPO fraud, alliance against ad scams and more on this week’s news roundup

Facebook shares are back above $30 for the first time since May, closing today at $30.01 — up 6 percent from Thursday.

Earlier today Facebook filed a motion to consolidate the 40-plus class-action lawsuits against the company following its initial public offering. The filing claims the company did nothing wrong in the weeks leading up to the IPO and suggested that Nasdaq’s technical issues on the first day of trading “created market uncertainty and caused investor losses.” Earlier this week, a Texas court rejected a petition seeking documents and oral dispositions from top Facebook executives to determine if the company defrauded investors.

It’s unclear whether the post-market-close announcement that CTO Bret Taylor would leave the company will affect the company’s stock price on Monday. Shares were down slightly in after-hours trading.

In other Facebook-related news this week:

Facebook joins alliance to fight ‘bad ads’ — Facebook joined Google, Twitter and AOL in an alliance this week against ads that deliver malware, direct users to scams or try to sell counterfeit goods. The alliance will develop industry policy recommendations and best practices, as well as share information about “bad actors” who might try to advertise on a new network after being shut down by another.

App Center now available on iPad — The Facebook App Center is now available to some iPad users as part of the social network’s gradual rollout of the new dashboard. The App Center is available on the web and mobile devices to help users discover new Facebook-integrated applications.

Facebook completely open sources Ringmark — The social network announced on Thursday that its mobile browser test suite, Ringmark, is now completely open source. Facebook has also added drawing performance tests to the Ringmark repository to help game developers and others test a mobile browser’s animation speed.

GraphEffect raises $12M — Social marketing and advertising collaboration platform GraphEffect announced Wednesday that it secured $12 million in financing. The platform, which builds upon the Facebook Ads and Insights APIs, recently added a “story manager” feature to help users understand how their posts are performing and then easily turn those into promoted units. GraphEffect can also now deliver ads within News Feed and mobile devices. CEO and co-founder James Borow says the company has more features in the works, including a full page publishing tool.

AdParlor to give job offer to future winner of Facebook Hackathon — Facebook ad optimization company AdParlor has promised to make a job offer to whoever wins the Facebook Hack in Toronto on Saturday. The winner will also get a new iPad.

Facebook tests ‘share music’ feature – Some Facebook users are seeing a “share music” option in their News Feed publisher, The Next Web reports. Users can search for songs and share Spotify streaming links with friends.

Birthday Reminder, SimCity promotion, Songza, Pot Farm, Opera Mini, more on our top 20 emerging Facebook apps by MAU

Birthday Reminder took the top spot in our top emerging Facebook applications this week with a 165 percent gain in monthly active users.

We define emerging applications as those that ended with between 100,000 and 1 million MAU in the past week. This week’s top apps grew from between 130,000 and 560,000 MAU, based on AppData, our data tracking service covering traffic growth for apps on Facebook.

Top Gainers This Week

Name MAU Gain Gain,%
1.  Birthday Reminder 900,000 +560,000 + 165%
2.  SimCity Social: Get free stuff 580,000 +410,000 + 241%
3.  Songza 360,000 +310,000 + 620%
4.  Custom Tab | Star #3 680,000 +300,000 + 79%
5.  Baseball Heroes 920,000 +290,000 + 46%
6.  【猛將無雙】★★★★★ 超人氣!你的朋友都在玩 739,091 +279,091 + 61%
7.  Zaman Tünelinden Kurtul 510,187 +250,187 + 96%
8.  HTML Page Tab #9 660,000 +240,000 + 57%
9.  What your Relationship Status says about you! 440,000 +210,000 + 91%
10.  Pot Farm 900,000 +200,000 + 32%
11.  Jetpack Joyride 940,000 +180,000 + 29%
12.  Veetle 230,000 +160,000 + 229%
13.  Preguntas y Respuestas 280,000 +150,000 + 115%
14.  Opera Mini 380,000 +150,000 + 65%
15.  HTML Page Tab #10 610,000 +150,000 + 33%
16.  BILD Profil-Badges 150,000 +149,200 + 18,650%
17.  Journey of Jesus: The Calling 620,000 +140,000 + 29%
18.  Sweepstakes 720,000 +140,000 + 26%
19.  Global.mnet.com 200,000 +130,000 + 186%
20.  Hangman 220,000 +130,000 + 144%

Birthday apps like Birthday Reminder typically grow quickly because they prompt users to share messages and invite their friends to the app, but there is often little reason for users to return.

No. 2 on our list, SimCity Social: Get free stuff is a page tab application where users can collect virtual goods by Liking the SimCity Social page, sharing posts on their Timeline, and providing an email address. It has grown to 580,000 MAU in about a week and a half.

Music service Songza came in at No. 3, likely as a result of its new iPad app. The web and mobile versions integrated Facebook Open Graph in September, and now with new iPad users, the app saw 620 percent growth in the past week.

No. 10 Pot Farm continues to experience a resurgence, steadily approaching 1 million MAU where it had been two years ago.

No. 14 Opera Mini has been rising quickly since its new browser for feature phones and Blackberry launched at the end of May. The browser includes a “Smart Page” feature that provides a summary of news from a user’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

All data in this post comes from our traffic tracking service, AppData. Stay tuned next week for our look at the top weekly gainers by monthly active users on Monday, the top weekly gainers by daily active users on Wednesday, and the top emerging apps on Friday.

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