Radical changes that Facebook plans to make to its user experience may force marketers to rethink the way that they engage with their customers within the Facebook environment.
The changes that Facebook is making to its platform indicate that it wants to own the Web by keeping its users engaged within its own platform even as they make use of other applications, services and content providers.
One of the most interesting components to the new Facebook is the fact that social sharing applications can now – with the user’s permission – post automated updates to a user’s timeline. They will share, automatically in real-time, what you have been doing, reading, watching or listening to.
When your friends click on one of your stories, they will be taken to a canvas page with more information provided by the app you were using.
For example, if one of the apps you use posts a story about watching a film on Netflix, another user will be able to stream the film from within the Netflix Facebook app.
Companies that have already partnered with Facebook to provide social sharing apps include Netflix, Hulu and Spotify. Though most of these services are not yet available in South Arica, the way that Facebook is trying to move towards engaging users through apps is a trend that marketers will need to watch in the months to come.
On the one hand, social apps will offer brands ways to engage with their customers. A consumer that adds your app to his or her timeline has a strong link to your brand and is endorsing it actively to friends with every automated update.
It does mean that marketers may need to invest more time and effort in creating Facebook-specific applications and experiences if they are to benefit from the platform’s social sharing features. It adds yet another channel to a complex mix, which marketers already need to manage in their multi-channel strategies.
They need to be questioning how they will deliver consistent experiences across a range of channels and manage the many media they use to communicate with their customers. They should be considering what tools and methodologies they will need to keep up and engage with consumers across different media.
John Ginsberg is chief marketing geek at Ensight in the UK.