Facebook is beefing up its marketing tools for brands, getting ready to roll out Timelines for branded pages, testing next-generation sponsored stories, bragging about success rates for its Timeline and Open Graph, and more.
Facebook plans to bring its new Timeline feature to brands this month, according to Ad Age. It introduced the redesigned profile page for individual users last last year. The new format is picture-heavy and collage-like, which covers the user's entire history on the social network. Facebook is rolling out the change slowly, giving users the choice whether to opt in.
The new pages for brands will start with a few partners and be rolled out more broadly in stages. Tabs and apps that marketers now host on Facebook pages to sell products or take polls could turn into boxes on the brand's Timeline. This is similar to the way apps for Spotify or the Washington Post Social Readers are now displayed on users' Timelines. Facebook will likely go into details at a day-long event specifically for marketers in New York on February 29.
Brands linked to celebrities will be interested in Facebook's support for verified accounts and pseudonyms. The new services are designed to protect users from subscribing to public updates for impostors. Verified accounts will appear more often in Facebook Subscribe suggestion.
Beginning Thursday, some users with many subscribers were scheduled to be notified through their profile of an option to verify their identities. Users can verify their identities by submitting an image of a government-issued photo ID, which is deleted after verification. These users can also enter an "alternate name," used to find them through search and displayed next to their real name in parentheses or as a replacement. For example, Stefani Germanotta might choose on Facebook to use the name she's known to most people by: Lady Gaga.
Another feature designed to appeal to brands are Open Graph apps (which we did a hands-on review of last month) built into Timeline Pages. These new verbs replace the familiar "like" with additional words, like "want" or "own." Facebook tested the Open Graph apps with 60 brands last month, and now it's bragging about success. For example, the number of Facebook users visiting Pinterest daily increased by more than 60 percent, the fashion trend and style discovery app Pose has seen a fivefold increase in daily Web signups, and design shopping site and mobile app Fab.com has seen a 50 percent increase in Facebook traffic.
And Facebook is looking to get closer to advertisers through educational programs. FastTrack sets up brands and medium-sized businesses with ad reps consultations and best-practice resources, while Start to Success gives small business expert phone support and a $50 ad credit to experiment with. The programs are designed to help brands bridge the gap between traditional TV, print, display, and Internet advertising on the one hand, and Facebook ads on the other.
"Trying to translate search and display advertising techniques doesn’t always work," writes TechCrunch's Josh Constine. "If their first experiments flop, they could get a sour impression of the social advertising channel as a whole."
Facebook is doing a full-court press to attract marketing spending prior to its May IPO. How's it working? Do you find Facebook to be an effective marketing channel? Let us know.
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— Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, The CMO Site