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1. The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com The Facebook Marketing Bible 33+ Ways to Market Your Brand, Company, Product, or Service Inside Facebook By Justin Smith email@example.com Editor, Inside Facebook www.insidefacebook.com Version 1.04 May 11, 2008 ©2008 Inside Facebook. Unauthorized duplication or redistribution is expressly prohibited. Inside Facebook is not affiliated with or endorsed by Facebook, Inc. ©2008 Inside Facebook 1
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Introduction A large and growing portion of some of the most valuable demographics are spending more of their time and attention on Facebook and less on other channels and media. Not only are US college students and teenagers fully engaged in Facebook, but adults, professionals, and people from around the world now constitute a substantial portion of the Facebook user base as well. However, most marketers lack a comprehensive understanding of the vast array of explicit and implicit marketing channels Facebook offers - most of which are “viral.” My goal here is to provide an introduction to what’s possible on Facebook to the spectrum of marketers - from brand advertisers to volunteer grassroots evangelists. Tactics are divided into three rough categories: tools for guerilla marketers, tools for advertisers, and tools for application developers. Throughout and after each section, I’ve offered recommendations for your Facebook campaign strategy. Facebook offers many ways to get the word out and enable engagement with your brand in more compelling ways than were ever before possible on the web. Here’s how to get started. ©2008 Inside Facebook 2
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Contents I. Tools for Guerilla Marketers 1. Profile Page 2. Groups 3. Pages 4. Events 5. Notes and Photos 6. Messages 7. Marketplace 8. Share / Posted Items 9. Networks 10. Mini Feed and News Feed > Recommended Strategies for Guerilla Marketers II. Tools for Advertisers 11. Social Ads 12. Localization Opportunities 13. Integrated Opportunities 14. Beacon 15. Polls 16. Facebook Platform Ad Networks 17. Facebook Platform Application Sponsorships 18. Sponsored Facebook Groups > Recommended Strategies for Advertisers III. Tools for Application Developers 19. Profile Box 20. Application Tabs 21. Application Info Sections 22. Designing Feed Stories 23. Feeds 2.0 24. Feed Publisher 25. Requests / Invitations 26. Facebook Notifications 27. Email Notifications ©2008 Inside Facebook 3
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com I. Tools for Guerilla Marketers For the aggressive guerilla marketer, Facebook offers a bevy of viral channels to get the word out to your friends and creatively reach your target audience. The best part about these guerilla tactics is their cost: free. Everyone on Facebook can use these strategies to recruit and to evangelize their causes. Strategy: If you build it, will they come? Marketers often wonder whether it makes sense to attempt to build their own social network around their product, company, brand or service. Some hire development shops to build a custom web site, others use white label products, and still others use hosted services like Ning. The problem with this approach, however, is that it’s extremely expensive to bring a significant enough number of users onto your own service to make it worth the expense (which can often run in the tens of thousands of dollars). In most cases, it makes much more sense to craft your strategies targeting the social networks in which people already “live” online—once someone builds their profile and friend list on a popular platform like Facebook, it’s awfully hard to get them to move. 1. Profile Page The starting point for your presence on Facebook is your profile page. Your profile page is basically a landing page that you design in order to convert your friends to engage with certain parts of your identity. Not only is your profile the page that you have the most control over, it’s the place where you can most deeply and authentically express your passion for the brand, company, or product you want to promote. Your profile page is an opportunity to craft a credible real-world story around the reasons your products or services are so ©2008 Inside Facebook 5
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com valuable. Take advantage of Personal Info, Work Info, Photos, and applications to tell bits and pieces of your narrative as it relates to your brand. If you’re not buying your own stuff, why should anyone else? If you don’t want to associate your personal identity with the product or service you’re trying to promote, Facebook is not for you. Inherent in the current state of Facebook is a culture of transparency that devalues and ignores inauthenticity. If you’re afraid to show the real people behind your campaign, that’s okay–-but save your time and money and go somewhere beside Facebook. Finally, most people don’t realize how many page views profile pages receive. One of the most common habits of Facebook users is browsing the profile pages of friends and stalking the profile pages of people they want to learn more about. By connecting to hundreds of partners, customers, associates, and friends on Facebook, you’ll drive a TON of traffic to your profile page. Take advantage of that huge opportunity. 2. Facebook Groups Groups are oldest and simplest way to build community around your brand or company on Facebook. By starting a group, you create a central place for customers, partners, and friends to participate in conversations around your brand. Facebook groups come with boards for posting discussion topics, photos, videos, and links right out of the box. You can also easily send news and updates to your group members as ©2008 Inside Facebook 6
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com often as you like - messages arrive in their Facebook Inbox. And the best part about Groups is you can create as many as you like for free. Groups are one of the simplest ways to do viral marketing on Facebook. Once members have joined your group, they can easily invite their friends to join the group via a built-in Invite feature. If your members are excited about your group, it can grow really quickly. (The group 1,000,000 Strong for Stephen Colbert grew from zero to one million members in 9 days!) Additionally, your group name will usually appear on your members’ personal profile pages until they leave the group. Many people view groups as “Bumper Stickers” for their profile page in this regard. Because profile pages are highly trafficked, these links can generate a lot of clicks to your group page. ©2008 Inside Facebook 7
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Of course, groups do have their problems. First and foremost, Facebook removes your ability to blast messages to your group once it surpasses a certain size. While Facebook is working on removing this limit, group owners are still currently experiencing this restriction at 1000-1500 members. However, Facebook has said publicly that this limit will go away soon. Second, if your group becomes popular, it can become a target for spammers. If you want to keep your group clean, be prepared to spend time deleting spam wall posts and reporting users that spam your group to Facebook. This can take a lot of time. Finally, while Groups do offer a reasonably robust feature set with no setup, you’re not able to extend their functionality with Facebook applications. In order to use those, you’ll need to get a Facebook Page. Strategy: What about spamming existing Groups? Many marketers choose to post links in existing Facebook Groups to their own Facebook Group or website. While this tactic may work on a small scale, Facebook’s automated systems will shut down accounts that post links in many groups. A better approach would be to approach existing group owners and ask to set up a reciprocal link exchange between your groups, just as you would on the open web. 3. Facebook Pages Pages were launched by Facebook in November 2007 as a way for businesses of many types to easily establish a brand presence on Facebook. Pages are a lot like groups, with some important differences: • Pages are more customizable than groups. You can add content or even ©2008 Inside Facebook 8
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Facebook applications to your pages to extend their functionality and the depth of experience users can have with your brand. • Pages get more prominent “Bumper Stickers” real estate than groups on the profile pages of your fans. • There is no limitation to the number of fans in your group that you can message. This means Pages can be an effective way to communicate with large numbers of Facebook users who are fans of your Page. • “Fans” who join your group are NOT able to invite their friends to be fans of your Page. Fans must either “Share” your page with their friends, or their friends must observe that they “are a fan” of your Page either via their profile page or News Feed. • You can view demographic information on who your fans are. Facebook enables you to export breakdowns by age and gender in Excel format. • Facebook has taken an active role in cracking down on Pages not created by authorized agents. In March of 2008, Facebook launched an upgrade to Pages that will be welcome news to businesses and marketers. It’s now easy to add custom Flash or HTML (FBML) to your Facebook Page. In order to add Flash and FBML capabilities to your Page, install the “Flash Player” or “Static FBML” apps. Adding the Flash Player will allow you to upload your own Flash files to your page, while adding the Static FBML app will allow you to enter your own HTML. This will allow Pages to provide much more customized experiences. In addition, Facebook added a Legal Drinking Age setting to Pages. If you operate a page related to alcohol products or bars, you can now meet legal drinking age requirements by editing your settings to only allow your page to be fully accessible by those over the legal drinking age where they live. Finally, Facebook added the Photos and Videos modules to Pages so that Page owners can allow fans to upload photos and videos. Pages are a good option for small or local businesses that want to establish a presence on Facebook. Like groups, they’re another free and easy way to do viral marketing. ©2008 Inside Facebook 9
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Pages will become an increasingly important marketing vehicle on Facebook over time - especially as the volume of fan-endorsed Social Ads continues to grow. Strategy: Groups and Pages are very similar. Which makes more sense? This is a hard question, and the answer depends on the goals of your campaign. If your campaign depends heavily on regular communication with large numbers of people, Pages are definitely your best option. Facebook is going to continue to build out Pages functionality for brand owners. By contrast, if your goal is to maximize the number of people that come in contact with your brand, but communicating with them over time is less important, the viral invitation feature of Groups allows them to potentially grow much faster. You’ll just need to be creative in giving your group members a reason to invite their friends. Strategy: I’ve just created a page. How do I promote it? Once you’ve created a page, there are a few things that you can do to grow your “fan base” within Facebook: 1) Share/Post your page on your Facebook profile. This will convert more friends and profile visitors to visit the Page. 2) Create Events within your page. When fans RSVP, their friends will see the news in their News Feeds. 3) Post messages in related Groups. Use Facebook’s search function to post messages in related groups about the existence of your page. If you don’t feel comfortable “spamming” these groups with unsolicited Wall posts, try messaging the group admins and officers to ask their permission to promote your page within their group. They may even be willing to promote your page for you. 4) Email the Page URL to your mailing lists and invite contacts to become ©2008 Inside Facebook 10
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Facebook “Fans” of your page. 5) Buy Social Ads to promote your page. Facebook is hoping to promote Pages more by integrating Page traffic stats into its Social Ads advertising service. Also, remember that whenever someone becomes a fan of your Page, that news appears in their Mini Feed and their friends’ News Feeds. In the Spring of 2008, Facebook began offering a Group > Page conversion tool. Essentially, if you’re the owner of a Facebook Group and want to convert the members of that group into “Fans” of your Facebook Page instead, you can fill out a request and Facebook will perform the migration for you automatically if your request meets its criteria. According to Facebook: If you have a group that fits into one of the categories offered for Pages and you are the official representative of that artist, business, or brand, we can help you convert your group into a Page. Please fill out your request by providing us with the URL to your current group and the URL to the Page you have created that you would like your group members and group content transferred to. Brand owners that originally created groups that have grown too large to manage effectively should consider migrating their groups to pages. Facebook Issues Guidelines for Promoting Pages Outside Facebook While Facebook uses Social Ads and the News Feed to help brands promote Pages within Facebook, the task of promoting Pages outside Facebook is largely left to the brand owner. In order to help marketers clearly promote Pages without causing Facebook brand confusion, Facebook has released the following Pages marketing ©2008 Inside Facebook 11
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com guidelines: 1) Use or reference to the Facebook brand should not imply partnership, endorsement or sponsorship unless approved by Facebook Brand Marketing. * Example Do: “Find us on Facebook to discover more about…” * Example Don’t: Don’t: “Company X partners with Facebook in social advertising campaign” 2) Do not use icons, visuals, logos, etc. taken from the Facebook site. Instead, use the Facebook Page Badge or Facebook Page Screenshots. 3) A registered trademark symbol ® must be included in all print / online displays of logo or wordmark that reference the Facebook brand. 4) When advertisers request use of Facebook brand features, they may or may not require a Trademark License Agreement from the Facebook Legal team. In other words, Facebook is trying to prevent marketers from incorrectly implying special partnership or affiliation with Facebook to strengthen their own brand. For more information and details on Facebook’s Page marketing do’s and don’ts, check out the Pages Promotional Guidelines page. 4. Facebook Events Facebook Events is a free application developed by Facebook that anyone can use to promote marketing events, sponsored parties, or even product launches, transactions, or company milestones. When you create an event, it gets a fully-featured page, much like a group, that includes a wall, discussion, photos, videos, and links. You can invite all of your ©2008 Inside Facebook 12
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com friends to the event; friends you invite will receive a special notification requesting their RSVP. You can also add administrators to the event, who can also invite all of their friends. Facebook Events makes it easy to get the word out to hundreds of people, manage your guest list, and build community around your upcoming event. 5. Facebook Notes and Photos Notes and Photos are two Facebook applications that allow you to share blog posts and pictures with your friends. You can use these features to post content about your brand, but be careful to always do it authentically - don’t be spammy. If your photo albums are all company logos, for example, you’ll lose a lot of credibility. ©2008 Inside Facebook 13
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com One feature that often goes overlooked within Facebook Notes and Photos is “tagging.” When you publish a note or post a photo, Facebook allows you to “tag” that note or photo with the names of your friends who are “included” in it. When you “tag” a friend in your photo or note, he/she gets a special notification. However, you don’t have to use “tagging” only to tag people that are actually “included” in the note or photo–you can also use it to selectively choose certain people whose attention you want to bring to the content you’ve created. When they view your note or photo, they’ll see the other people you tagged in it - so make sure it’s a group of people they’d be complimented to be included in. 6. Facebook Messages ©2008 Inside Facebook 14
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com The rise of Facebook Messages as a popular alternative to email has confused many “old” people. Nevertheless, Messages can be a powerful vehicle for targeted marketing on Facebook. Messages are like email, except a lot less fully featured - Facebook offers no way to search, sort, filter, categorize, or star messages. While Facebook’s default privacy settings prevent you from seeing the full profile page of most Facebook users, Facebook allows you to send messages to users you have no connection with. However, Facebook has invested heavily in message spam prevention. If you use your Facebook account to message users you have no connection with in high volume, Facebook’s automated systems will shut down your account. While they do offer a direct line to a hard to find sales lead or potential job candidate, it is not smart to try to spam people using Facebook messages. 7. Facebook Marketplace ©2008 Inside Facebook 15
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Marketplace is Facebook’s classifieds listing service. You can post a for-sale ad or wanted ad in any of your networks for free. However, if you want to post your ad in multiple networks, you have to pay $1 per network per listing. Like with messages, spamming up the Marketplace will get your account deleted and your ads removed. It’s most likely not worth your time to try to evade their systems. Unlike other Facebook-developed applications, Marketplace does not get as heavily used. Many Marketplace ads only yield a few leads. However, unlike Craigslist, which is anonymous, all Marketplace responses are tied to real Facebook accounts. When you receive a response to your Marketplace listing, you can see the respondent’s profile page even if they’re not your friend. 8. Facebook Share / Posted Items Facebook Share is a Facebook application that lets you promote any Group, Event, Photo, Link, or Application you come across by a) giving it real estate in your “Posted Items” list on your profile page, or b) sending it directly to your friends’ Inbox. ©2008 Inside Facebook 16
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com By posting it on your profile page, you can direct some clicks to the shared item. However, while this is an effective promotional tactic, it’s not as targeted as sending it directly to friends’ Inboxes. Those messages are more likely to convert into valuable clicks. 9. Facebook Networks Facebook Networks are like group pages for everyone who’s a member of an Educational, Work, or Geographical network. While no Facebook members “own” any pieces of network pages, network pages offer 1) another way for users to discover events, posted items, and marketplace listings, and 2) discussion forums and walls which any members can post to. Network pages are probably the most commonly accepted places to spam in Facebook. While you can post there, keep in mind that your messages may be considered spammy even if they’re real and relevant. ©2008 Inside Facebook 17
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com 10. Mini Feed and News Feed While all the channels I’ve described above are useful for grassroots marketing on Facebook, the wind that blows your marketing seeds is Facebook’s News Feed. While you’re not able to publish directly to the feeds (unless you’re willing to pay or build an application), Facebook’s Mini Feed and News Feed archive your users’ ©2008 Inside Facebook 18
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com engagement with your brand and syndicate it to their friends, networks, and beyond, amplifying the reach of your campaign by orders of magnitude. When Facebook users join your group, RSVP to your event, become fans of your page, share your photos, or further engage with your brand in any of these channels, Facebook automatically adds a feed item to their Mini Feed. That feed item exists for all to see, and is often in a prominent location on Facebook profile pages. Facebook’s News Feed, which occupies most of the Facebook login landing page, then amalgamates each user’s friends’ Mini Feeds into one unified stream of “recent news”. It’s possible that one Mini Feed item generated by a Facebook user could be seen in hundreds of their friends’ News Feeds. The News Feed has revolutionized the way information is shared between friends on Facebook. This can mean great things for your campaign and your brand. In fact, a new marketing field I’ve called “News Feed Optimization” is emerging – for more information, see the “Tools for Application Developers” section below. ©2008 Inside Facebook 19
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Recommended Strategies for Guerilla Marketers Marketing on Facebook is really all about the News Feed. Getting prominence in Facebook users’ News Feeds allows your brand to spread more rapidly and powerfully than has ever before been possible on the social web. The simplest way to get started on Facebook and get News Feed distribution is: 1) Start a profile page. (You have probably already done this.) 2) Build your network. Import all your email contacts and add all of your friends as appropriate. 3) Start a group. (If you’re marketing a brand, skip groups and create a page.) Be sure to make your group/page available to all of Facebook, not just your school, regional, or work network. 4) Invite all your Facebook friends that it would be appropriate to invite to join your group/page. 5) Ask all your group/page members to invite the 10 friends that they think would be most interested in the group/page. 6) Create regular events within the group/page. 7) Message your group/page members regularly. Every time a Facebook member joins a page/group, posts to it, or RSVPs to your events, their friends will come into contact with your brand via the Mini and News Feed. Thousands of Facebook users could touch your brand within a matter of days. (Of course, you’ll need to mix in a healthy amount of link posting to keep everyone engaged.) If you want to add more robust application functionality or advertise your group, you should instead start off with (or switch to) Pages, since Pages is the product Facebook will add increasing support to for brand owners going forward. ©2008 Inside Facebook 20
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com II. Tools for Advertisers For marketers with a budget, Facebook offers both integrated and self-serve solutions to reach broader slices of the Facebook audience. Depending on your budget, you can get started as an advertiser on Facebook with as little as a few dollars for a short-run flyer or as much as several hundred thousand dollars for a customized “sponsored group” destination inside Facebook. 11. Social Ads Social Ads replaced Facebook Flyers in November 2007 at the same time Facebook launched Pages. With Social Ads, Facebook offers advertisers the option to pay on a CPC or CPM basis, whichever they prefer. Social Ads offers very powerful targeting capabilities: when you create your ad, you have the option to limit who sees your ad by age, sex, location, keywords, education level, workplaces, political views, and relationship status. Social Ads is the best way to drive traffic to your Facebook Page. Social Ads is completely self-serve and provides real time feedback on the size of your target audience and the suggested bid range to achieve impressions. While Facebook doesn’t guarantee your budget will be reached, I can’t imagine they’re anywhere close to filling their inventory. ©2008 Inside Facebook 21
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Social Ads also offers placements in the News Feed, and these units get much better click through. You can also target Social Ads to friends of users who have recently engaged with your brand via your Facebook Page or Facebook Beacon (for more details on Beacon, see below). These units convert at a much better rate. 12. Localization Opportunities While most of Facebook’s users speak English, a growing number speak many of the world’s languages. Starting in the spring of 2008, Facebook launched versions of the site in Spanish, French, and German, allowing users to experience Facebook completely in their local language. As of May 2008, there are ongoing translation projects in on in Français, Deutsch, Español, Català, Čeština, Dansk, Euskara, Galego, Italiano, , Magyar, Norsk, , Nederlands, Polski, Português do Brasil, Română, Русский, Slovenščina, Suomi, Svenska, , Türkçe, (简 , and ( Advertisers can now consider localized versions of your campaigns targeted to Facebook users in specific countries. For a list of Facebook users by country, see the “Translations” section in Tools for Application Developers below. 13. Integrated Opportunities If you represent a large account, Facebook has partnered with Microsoft to serve advertisers with higher campaign budgets (above around $50,000). Just contact Facebook, and a sales rep will work with you to explore more integrated advertising opportunities than are available via the self-serve Social Ads service. 14. Beacon Beacon is Facebook’s new program (launched in November 2007) that allows partners to send Facebook information about the activities Facebook users do on partner ©2008 Inside Facebook 22
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com websites, in order to be published inside Facebook via the Mini Feed and News Feed. For example, Amazon might use Beacon to send a feed item to Facebook about a book you just bought. Initially, Beacon launched as an opt-out program that required users to explicitly prevent their Beacon feed items from being distributed to their friends on Facebook. However, after complaints by privacy advocates, Facebook modified Beacon to become an opt-in program. While the potential for Beacon to increase the flow of information valuable to marketers within Facebook is tremendous, it largely remains untested. Strategy: Should I try Beacon? Many large advertisers backed away from Beacon after it first launched due to concerns about consumer response. Now, however, Facebook’s Beacon implementation is actually quite conservative—users must explicitly approve your off-site Feed Items before they get News Feed distribution. Beacon’s potential is immense—sharing your users’ activity on your website with their Facebook friends is a marketer’s dream—if done appropriately. If your website serves large volumes of users, integrating Beacon could be a powerful way to extend your brand within Facebook. 15. Polls Polls offer an easy way for marketers to quickly conduct research within their targeted ©2008 Inside Facebook 23
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com audience. Results are streamed in real time to a dashboard that allows marketers to break down results by gender and age. Based on your targeting preferences, you can get hundreds of responses within an hour. Everyone should give Polls a try to see how easy it is to conduct market research on Facebook. 16. Facebook Platform Ad Networks When Facebook launched the Facebook Platform in May 2007, they also made a promise to allow application developers to monetize their applications however they like and keep 100% of the revenue. This market green-field led to the birth of a new niche of ad networks dedicated to serving the inventory created by Facebook Platform applications. While the quality of these networks can be inconsistent, together they offer an important way to reach the Facebook audience often engaged in a particular vertical. Inventory is sold on a CPM, CPC, CPA, and CPI (cost per installation of YOUR application) basis. Leading firms include SocialMedia (www.socialmedia.com), Buddy Media (www.buddymedia.com), (disclosure: SocialMedia and Buddy Media are sponsors of the InsideFacebook blog), RockYou (www.rockyou.com), Lookery (www.lookery.com), Cubics (www.cubics.com), and others. What eCPMs do apps charge? Data from Facebook application developers Every ad network is different (and so is every app). Some can fill different types of creative, and others can fill different user segments. For example, VideoEgg has a unique high performing unit, but can only fill a small amount of inventory, while Lookery has an open offer promising guaranteed rates for all European traffic. ©2008 Inside Facebook 24
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com While different ad networks make different claims regarding what kind of price and performance they’ll be able to deliver, the best solution for all marketers is to give several of them a try and stick with the ones that work best for you. As a reference point, here’s info from current Facebook app developers on what they’re making on a CPM/eCPM basis from ad networks serving the Facebook Platform: • tspree15 is making $0.60 CPM with Social Media • cbovis is making $1.50 CPM with VideoEgg, but they can’t cover all his inventory (the rest runs on RockYou) • sweetsteve is making $0.27 CPM with Cubics, down from $0.43 • ejono is seeing a $0.40 CPM with Cubics • cory is making a $4.78 eCPM with Social Media (much higher than the rest!) • mzeitler is making a $0.50 CPM each with AdSense, FB Exchange, Social Media, and RockYou (and by combining 2 units on a page is making $1.00 CPM) • saintseiya is making $0.125 CPM with Lookery ($0.25 with 2 ads above the fold) • markdoub is seeing $0.10 CPM with Cubics, down from $0.43 • ersingencturk is seeing $0.04 CPM with AdSense 17. Facebook Platform Application Sponsorships Advertisers looking for more integrated opportunities inside Facebook applications can consider approaching application developers and negotiating a sponsorship directly. For example, beverage companies have sponsored “drink-sharing” applications, while contact lens companies have sponsored “winking” applications. By browsing the Facebook Application directory, you may be able to find applications fitting with your campaign. ©2008 Inside Facebook 25
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com In addition, several firms have begun serving agencies and advertisers by helping them connect with users on the Facebook Platform. These firms can connect brands with application developers or create and manage custom applications for brands. Firms Inside Facebook recommends include: • Buddy Media (www.buddymedia.com) • Federated Media (www.federatedmedia.net) • Context Optional (www.contextoptional.com) • Appssavvy (www.appssavvy.com) Strategy: Why sponsor applications when I can sponsor Facebook itself? While developers face many of the same monetization challenges as social networks at the end of the day, developers have two big advantages over the social networks that can actually enable them to deliver more value to marketers than the social networks themselves (albeit in less volume): 1. App usage is a better signal for intent than profile data. While users who indicate an interest on their profile may not have significant purchase intent at any given time, users actively engaged in applications around that same interest are more likely to conduct a relevant transaction. Of course, that application needs to serve a need in high value verticals like travel, media, finance, or shopping. For example, it’s hard to know with much precision when users who list “skiing” as an interest on their profile page are most likely to purchase a lift ticket just based on profile data. While this is great for basic targeting, it’s nowhere near the level of intent signaled by a Google search. However, users actively engaged in an application used to research current ski conditions and find friends going skiing this ©2008 Inside Facebook 26
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com weekend are much more likely to have monetizable intent. Whereas profile data is often write-once-live-forever, application usage is a better indication of activated interest in a given vertical. 2. Apps offer better opportunities for brand alignment and integration. While Facebook offers Pages and Social Ads for brand owners interested in building a presence in Facebook’s social environment, applications can go much deeper and offer experiences much more directly aligned with the values of the brand. With Facebook Pages, brands can only achieve fairly generic levels of user interaction. On the Page itself, users can post messages, upload photos and videos, and sign up to receive future updates. When users become a “Fan” of your brand, their friends will see a message that says, “Justin became a fan of Colgate Toothpaste.” All of these things are great, but they leave a lot of value to brands on the table. With apps, brands can create more directly aligned and integrated brand experiences - both within the application itself AND in the “viral” messages that users send to their friends. For example, Federated Media recently did a BMW “What Drives You?” campaign with application developer Graffiti in which users created over 6,000 entries and shared their creations with their friends. Which is a more valuable brand experience to BMW - looking at a Page with a logo and messaging, or drawing the car of your dreams? Which is a better feed item to be seen by millions of friends - “Justin became a fan of BMW” or “Justin challenges you to show What Drives You in the Graffiti Car Contest”? You decide. 18. Sponsored Facebook Groups ©2008 Inside Facebook 27
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Before Facebook Pages launched, the only option available to advertisers wanting to establish a certified presence on Facebook was through the Sponsored Group program. Sponsored Groups are Facebook Groups with the ability to customize the HTML of certain regions on the page. Surprisingly, the cost to rent a Sponsored Group on Facebook starts at US $100,000 a month. Not surprisingly, the number of Sponsored Groups purchased over the years has remained small. I expect Facebook to phase out Sponsored Groups as they seek to bolster Social Ads and Pages. ©2008 Inside Facebook 28
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com In May of 2008, Facebook migrated the over 400,000 members who had previously joined Apple’s sponsored Facebook Group “Apple Students” to a Facebook Page by the same name. While it seems like this transition was handled as straightforwardly as possible for users given Facebook’s deprecation of the sponsored group ad product, Facebook and marketers should be careful when converting sponsored groups members to Page fans in order to maintain user trust, since users’ original intentions for joining a sponsored group may be different than necessarily expressing their “fandom.” Recommended Strategies for Advertisers For most advertisers, the place to get started is to build a fully-featured Facebook Page, and drive traffic to it through Social Ads. Facebook ads that send traffic to other websites historically have performed quite poorly, while ads that direct traffic to Facebook Pages (or even Groups) perform well. Facebook users becoming fans of your page is a valuable conversion, because you’ll be able to communicate with them directly as long as they’re fans of your page. You can use those communications to encourage further engagement with your brand. For companies that have developed Facebook applications, advertising with Facebook Application Ad Networks (like SocialMedia, RockYou, and Lookery) on a CPI basis can be a powerful way to drive installations of your apps at reasonable cost levels. You’ll just need to define the value of an application conversion (which heavily depends on the nature of the app you’ve built) compared to a Page-fan conversion in order to determine which channel is more cost effective. Brand managers should seriously consider campaigns with firms that represent Facebook Platform applications. Facebook apps are able to offer the best of both worlds: deeply aligned and integrated brand experiences that get naturally shared with thousands of friends through Facebook’s “viral” communication channels. ©2008 Inside Facebook 29
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com III. Tools for Application Developers For marketers who can harness technical resources, the Facebook Platform offers the most powerful way to create engaging connections with your target audience on Facebook. Thousands of third-party applications have already been built on the Platform APIs–many of which have allowed for new kinds of deep brand experiences, and many of which turned out to be transient ad delivery vehicles that failed to take user experience into account. While I can’t tell you how to dream up a good app for your business here, I will explain the channels that your applications must absolutely take advantage of in order to achieve maximum success. Strategy: Where do most new application users come from? The answer to this question depends largely on your application. Usually, it’s a combination of the key viral channels Facebook makes available to application developers: invitations, feed items, notifications, and the profile box. Sadly, Facebook provides no comprehensive marketing dashboard for you. You’ll need to build your own system to track each time an invitation, feed item, or notification is sent out, whether or not it is clicked, and whether or not that click turns into a converted installation and engaged user. However, Facebook does provide some partial stats on application virality. Inside your application settings page, Facebook provides information on the number referrers to your app install page through the following channels: • Product Directory - how many users found your app in the application directory • Profile Box Add Link - the standard link Facebook places in the top right of your profile box ©2008 Inside Facebook 30
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com • Add Application News Feed Story – the Facebook generated News Feed item (“Justin Smith installed the Video application”) • Mini Feed Story • Facebook Search • From within your App - how many users clicked content within your profile box or another canvas page that led them to install your app (unfortunately, since all these links are part of your application, you’ll need to track them yourself). ©2008 Inside Facebook 31
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com 19. Profile Box Surprisingly, the most common way new users find applications is through application profile boxes on their friends’ profile pages. The challenge of profile box design is making it both compelling for an existing user to keep it on his/her profile, and appealing enough to a new user to click on and install the application. If your profile box doesn’t provide the profile owner sufficient value to merit its presence on the profile page, your user will hide your profile box, or worse, uninstall your application. Simultaneously, if your profile box is too spammy, your user will get rid of it instantly. In January 2008, Facebook implemented a “Profile Box Cleanup Tool.” This tool prompts users to remove excess unused profile boxes from their profile pages. While it’s unclear how frequently Facebook will prompt users to clear their profile boxes, it is clear that app developers who don’t design compelling profile boxes will experience an increase in removals over time. Major Update: Facebook Profile Redesign In the spring of 2008, Facebook announced major impending changes to the design of the Profile Page. These changes include: • The creation of “Feed,” “Info, “Wall,” “Photos,” “Boxes,” and application tabs • Moving all current profile boxes to a new “Boxes” tab • The creation of a third profile box unit, called the “main profile” box, that will appear on the left column of the Feed, Info, and Wall tabs. ©2008 Inside Facebook 32
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com • The Feed tab will contain new, larger story types and a new feed Publisher. This will be the default tab when viewing your own or your friends’ profiles. • Users can now add tabs entirely devoted to individual applications. • The Info tab contains static information about you. Applications will also have the ability to publish content to this tab. Details on each of these changes are below. On the whole, the upcoming updates to the profile page will have a big impact on how users interact with each other and express themselves with applications. With the profile redesign, Facebook wants to give users more control over their profile and make the profile more communication focused. In order to integrate with the new profile design, developers are going to need to adapt to and take advantage of several new integration points on the Facebook profile. Starting in late May, Facebook will open a developers’ sandbox that will allow developers to test their apps. A few weeks after the developers’ sandbox opens, Facebook will push the new profile design live to all users. If developers do nothing, their apps will continue to work as is. However, in order to take advantage of new opportunities for integration with the redesigned profile page, developers will need to update their apps in several ways. The Facebook profile redesign will have a big impact on the developer community. Developers will need to think long and hard about how to make their apps more valuable to users, specifically in the integration points that Facebook is providing. While much of the first year of the Facebook Platform has been about virality, it will be harder for purely “viral” apps that don’t provide much value to users to grow - the second year of the Facebook Platform will be about engagement. Kicking profile boxes off the default view of the profile page will definitely make it harder for users to discover and re-engage with applications. Facebook must embark on a major user education campaign to help users understand the new ©2008 Inside Facebook 33
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com tools they have to organize application content on their profile page (specifically, moving boxes between tabs and adding new app tabs) and share application content with their friends (specifically, the new feed publisher). Impact on profile boxes: Application profile boxes will largely be moving to a new home in the updated profile design. All current profile boxes will be moved to the “Boxes” tab with the update (the title of the “Boxes” tab is still up in the air). The specific migration flow has not yet been determined, but the specifics of how Facebook implements it and helps users decide how to organize their new profile pages will have a big impact on developers. On the Boxes tab, users will be able to add, remove, and organize their profile boxes. In addition, the Feed, Info, and Wall tabs will have a left-hand column that will hold “main profile” boxes that will be height limited (to about 250 pixels) but otherwise will be very similar to current profile boxes. Users will be able to move their profile boxes between the Boxes tab and the “main profile” area fairly easily. Finally, users will be able to have up to 5 boxes in their “main profile” area - more than that will be put into the “Extended Profile” that developers have come to know well since the initial profile cleanup tool. 20. Application Tabs Another major new integration point for developers is app tabs. These will be built like “semi-canvas” pages, meaning Facebook will be proxying the images but hitting the apps for the tab’s content. Like profile boxes, app tabs can’t be built with iframes or using auto-play Flash, but developers will be able to build fully interactive FBML pages. The only place users will be able to add tabs is on the profile itself, using the “+” button to the right of their default tabs, and up to 6 tabs will appear (the rest will be accessible via a “More” dropdown). Facebook will provide a drop-down list of users’ ©2008 Inside Facebook 34
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com applications, sorted by those they use most. Facebook’s intention for app tabs is that they’ll meet the personal expression needs of those users for whom profile boxes are not enough. However, the page is also a place visitors will be able to initiate interactions, like starting a game. Developers won’t be able to create different views for the profile owner vs. profile visitor - similar limitations to the current app box FBML rules to prevent profile page spam. 21. Application Info Sections One of the new integration points for developers in the profile redesign is the new Info tab. This will be a very structured tab, much like the Info sections on the current Facebook profile page, containing key-value pairs on which information will exist in comma separated text or thumbnail lists. Unlike the Info sections currently on the profile page, content added to the Info tab from apps will link directly to the application (not Facebook search results). There will be an in-line editing flow on the Info tab for users; Facebook will provide a suggested type-ahead editing interface. Users will be able to add content to the Info tab from within application canvas pages (in FBML). After users see a popup confirmation, the content will be added automatically. Each application will get its own section on the Info tab that look much like the different Info sections currently in Facebook’s current profile. 22. Designing Feed Stories The Mini Feed is a powerful part of the Facebook Platform API that allows developers to publish news about a user’s engagement with their applications. Like the profile box, your feed items must be compelling to the profile owner while not being spammy, AND attract your user’s friends to click on the feed item and explore the app. If you mess up in either direction, users will hide your feed item, and thanks to a recent new feature from Facebook, uninstall it in-line. ©2008 Inside Facebook 35
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com As I mentioned earlier, the Facebook News Feed offers immense value by syndicating your feed items to thousands of users’ home pages inside Facebook. Strategy: Designing High Performance Feed Items 1. The most important thing you can do as a Facebook application marketer is to publish engaging, authentic Feed items. Whenever a user performs an action within your application, consider whether hearing about that action would be valuable to that user’s friends. If so, publish a Feed item about that event. For example, the Moods application invokes a Feed item when a user changes their mood. The feed item simply contains this contextually appropriate “news” about my friend Holly–she has updated her mood within the Moods application (I’m glad to hear she’s feeling happy). Likewise, the Books application publishes a Feed item when a user indicates that they have started or finished reading a book. This is also news that I find appropriate and interesting about my friend–I might even casually follow up with Jonathan about this “news”. ©2008 Inside Facebook 36
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com In January 2008, Facebook banned using the word “message” anywhere in your feed item copy in order to prevent user confusion regarding whether or not applications had access to the Facebook Inbox. While it may create a short term performance boost, your feed items should not be so aggressive that it creates confusion with Facebook itself – Facebook is likely to ban more words in the future that could cause this same issue. 2. Be sure you optimize your Feed items for all of the Feed item elements made available to you by Facebook: title, body, and images. The Facebook Developers Feed Item documentation describes the requirements and limitations of each Feed item element as the following: • The title is required, and is limited to 60 displayed characters (excluding tags). o The a tag is allowed, and there can be zero or one instance in the title. o One fb:userlink tag is allowed, and the uid parameter must be populated with the user id on whose behalf the action is being published. If there is no such fb:userlink tag found, then one is automatically prepended to the title. o The fb:name tag is allowed, and there may be multiple instances of this tag. o No other tags are allowed. • The body is optional, is limited to 200 displayed characters (excluding tags), and can include the tags fb:userlink, fb:name, a, b, and i. • Up to 4 images can be displayed, which will be shrunk to fit within 75×75, cached, and formatted by Facebook. Images can either be a URL, or a facebook PID. If it is a URL, you must own the image and grant Facebook the permission to cache it. Each image must have a link associated with it, which must start with http:// ©2008 Inside Facebook 37
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com As you notice above, both Moods and Feeds use short titles to get your attention and longer, more descriptive bodies. Moods also includes an image, which is very attention grabbing. Be careful, however, to resist the temptation to always max out the images you include with every feed item just because they’re “essentially free ad space”. This could make your Feed items seem spammy and adversely affect your Feed item conversion rate. 3. Include inviting, provocative calls to action that lead the reader to install the application directly. Ultimately, the value of the News Feed the application developer is that it’s powerful, free marketing. The News Feed can be used to convert your users’ friends to do things you want them to do - like install your application. You need to make this conversion process as quick and easy as possible. For example, you’ll notice that the Moods application asks the reader, “How are you feeling?” immediately after the Feed item body. Clicking this link leads to the Moods application installation page. As a result, the Moods application has experienced significant growth despite not doing any active marketing. ©2008 Inside Facebook 38
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com The Books application prompts the reader to click on the title of the book my friend just finished reading. However, clicking this link does not lead me to install the application, but rather through an affiliate link to Amazon, where the Books developer will earn a commission on anything I purchase. Recently, Facebook enabled a new way of increasing the selection frequency and distribution breadth of feed items called Feed Templates. By registering feed templates in your Developer Settings, your feed items can now be a) lumped together and shown more often, and b) shown to friends of your app’s users who don’t have the app installed (previously, only friends who had the app could see your app’s feed items in their News Feeds). Updates: News Feed Optimization – Strategies and Techniques In January 2008, Facebook made a change to the way these “templated” feed items are distributed to users without the app: if the feed items link to application pages that require the user to install the app in order to be viewed, Facebook will lower that feed item’s rank. Apparently, Facebook wants application developers to give new users more of a “taste” of applications before requiring them to install the app. Whether this translates into a deeper philosophical shift remains to be seen, but it could be interpreted as a sign that Facebook wants more applications (or at least application elements) available to users without requiring installation. In February 2008, Facebook made another change to the way feed items work to prevent an often-spammy practice: “passive” feed items. Passive feed items were those that were published without your explicit action – for example, “Justin was invited to play Poker” instead of “Justin has been playing poker.” This became a problem when aggressive developers spammed users’ Mini Feeds even when they weren’t using the app. It is now deprecated. ©2008 Inside Facebook 39
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Testing, tracking, and optimizing your feed items is definitely a worthwhile investment for any application developer. You should instrument your feed items as early as possible. 23. Feeds 2.0 The focal point of the profile redesign is the new Feed tab. For profile owners and friends, it will be the default tab you see. For profile visitors who aren’t friends, the Info tab will be shown by default (Facebook says this is because it’s more likely you’ll want to learn basic information about non-friends, like where they live or go to college, before you want to learn detailed info about their recent activity). With the new Feed, there will now be 3 different feed sizes: • One-Line Stories. This is very similar to what currently exists on the Facebook profile. In the profile redesign, app developers will still be able to use the API to publish feed stories to users’ profile pages. • Short Stories. Short stories will be slightly larger feed stories, that will have limited FBML. Users can embed images and (soon) Flash. • Full Stories. These will be up to 700 pixels of free form FBML. Unlike one-line stories, app developers will not be able to automatically publish short and full stories via the Facebook API. Instead, users will have to approve them. Developers can use feed forms to create multiple versions of feed stories that the user can choose from for publication. When developers want to publish a short or full feed story, users will be given a popup preview of the story, the choice of size (one line, short, full), and the button to approve it. This is a major shift from the current framework of auto-publishing feed stories, but Facebook believes it must give users more control over their profile in this way in order to keep the Feed from becoming spammy. After a story has been published, users can change which version (one line, short, full) of the feed story is published in their Feed via UI in the feed itself. This means that ©2008 Inside Facebook 40
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com app developers can publish one line stories automatically, and users can “make them bigger” later on. Facebook will encourage developers to create feed stories in all sizes, so that users can choose which one they like best. Obviously, larger stories are likely to generate more application click traffic than smaller stories. In addition to being able to publish stories for app users themselves, developers will also have the power to let users publish stories into their friends’ feeds (for example, giving a gift). Once the sender approves the feed story, it will automatically appear in their friends’ feed. However, recipients will be able to change or remove the story later on. Since removing passive feed publishing earlier this year, developers have been unable to publish feed stories for users not using the app. Now, users will again be able to share app content with their friends not using the app (currently or at all). 24. Feed Publisher The new publisher flow (a significant upgrade from Wall attachments) will allow users to share content from apps both on their own and friends’ profiles. It’s the main place Facebook wants profile viewers and owners to interact, and this is the change that’s likely to have the most impact on users. At the top of everyone’s feed will be a way for you to create content on their feed or yours. For example, you may want to add a photo or video, write a note, send a gift or song, draw graffiti, or share links. The interaction will be similar to the way wall attachments currently work. (Facebook thinks of its Wall as just another application that integrates into the Feed’s publisher flow.) When you create content, it will look like a feed story and go directly into the feed. The default feed size will be long for your own profile, short for your friends’. When you want to attach content to a feed, you’ll be shown Facebook’s default apps (like photos and notes), as well as apps that users have recently used to create content on their feed or otherwise used pretty recently. (In addition, when visiting ©2008 Inside Facebook 41
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com others’ profiles, users will be invited to use apps that others have recently used to create content on their profile.) Developers will be able to design the publisher interface that users will use to share content from their apps. For example, users may want to be able to search for songs. And in addition to the “attach-post” flow, developers will have the opportunity to create a multi-step wizard interaction (though like profile boxes, they can’t be iframes, but can be FBML or on-click Flash). Finally, developers will have the option to display a text comment field (or the app can provide that themselves). Finally, developers will have option to specify different publisher flows for your own vs others’ profile if they want. For example, adding a video would be pretty similar, but it would be weird to send a gift to yourself. 25. Requests / Invitations One of the most powerful viral channels available to Facebook Platform application developers is request (invitations). The requests API allows users of your application to invite many friends per day to install your app (the exact limit depends on how much users rate your invitations as spammy). When maximized, invitations can lead to very quick growth. However, encouraging your users to invite their friends to install your application is not as easy as you think. The scenario must be compelling enough for your users to send invitations on your behalf, and the invitation itself must be compelling enough for the recipient to convert. These examples show two different invitation requests, each of which is compelling for different users. ©2008 Inside Facebook 42
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Updates: Facebook Reigns in Invitation Flood In February 2008, Facebook made two changes to invitations that affect developers: 1) “Clear all invitations” button. For users with dozens of unwanted invitations, it became difficult to clear them all. Thus, Facebook added a “clear all” button that removes all unanswered invitations. 2) No more infinite invitation loops. Some developers were employing a very aggressive practice of requiring users to invite friends before being able to access promised functionality. Facebook cracked down on this practice – which created a very poor user experience – by punishing developers who ©2008 Inside Facebook 43
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com did it by turning off their ability to send invitations until that behavior was stopped. 3) Variable invitation limits. Until February 2008, applications were limited to sending 20 invitations per day, no matter what. In March, Facebook imposed variable limits that depend on how much users accept your invitations and rate your application as spammy. Most apps are seeing allocation limits of 8-12 per day – a significant decrease. In May 2008, Facebook made these limits even more sensitive to user feedback, making it harder for spammy app developers to keep growing and rewarding developers with good user feedback ratings with more opportunity for growth. To see what your current limit is, go the Developer Insights page for your app. All in all, while these changes are apparently negative for the developer community, they will protect the Facebook Platform user experience in the long run, and are ultimately good for developers building quality applications. In February 2008, Facebook added the ability for users to select Friend Lists in the multi-friend-selector box. This could be an interesting new way for your app users to choose request recipients. (i.e. Business related applications might spread more quickly if many users have work-related friend lists and this change allows batch selection.) Friend Lists were made more prominent in the Facebook user experience with the launch of Friend List-based privacy controls in March 2008. 26. Facebook Notifications Notifications get less press than feed items and invitations because they’re not as effective at spreading your app. Because Facebook mysteriously assigns your apps a spamminess rating based on the number of notifications your apps send out, many developers choose to use notifications sparingly to prevent having their notification ©2008 Inside Facebook 44
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com channel shut down by Facebook. However, notifications have been proven to be an effective tool for retaining existing users of your app. Like the new dynamic invitation limits Facebook instituted for invitations, notification limits are now dynamic, depending on user response. If your notifications are too spammy, Facebook will decrease the limit on how many you can send. Update: Facebook Wants More Synchronous Notifications With the full launch of Facebook Chat in April 2008, Facebook users were introduced to a new interface for receiving notifications. While notifications used to be presented in a kind of restricted “inbox,” now notifications are accessible via a red flag in the chat bar which pops open a notification “bubble.” Shining more light on Facebook’s thinking behind this change, Facebook said, “Whether it’s to announce the giving of a gift, the challenging to a game, or the joining of a cause, your applications’ notifications will make a more instant impact. We encourage you to think about new ways to integrate with Facebook when you send notifications.” Facebook’s intent with Chat, and Notifications going forward, is to encourage a more synchronous communication experience for users. Why? Facebook’s average session length is likely very short (lots of “Log in - Check News Feed - Check messages - Leave” types of paths in their server logs), and synchronous communication sessions (i.e. games) are much longer than asynchronous ones. Facebook needs apps to help make sessions longer. ©2008 Inside Facebook 45
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com 27. Email Notifications Email notifications are just like Facebook Notifications, except they are delivered directly to your users’ email address INSTEAD of to their Facebook Notifications inbox. While originally scheduled to be deprecated by Facebook, Facebook recently enabled a new API method for email notifications that allows developers to send users up to 5 email notifications per day. Updates: Emails Reinstated as Core Application Marketing Channel In March 2008, Facebook turned on new application email allocation limits as part of the Platform team’s continuing efforts to build a comprehensive Application Reputation System that controls access to Facebook’s viral marketing channels according to user feedback. The new email allocations limit the number of emails that applications are allowed to send per user per day. Like request and notification limits, applications are assigned a bucket rating. For email limits, buckets are assigned based on user disable rates. In addition, Facebook added a new app “allocation” that changes the location of the disable link within emails. For applications with low disable rates, the disable links will appear at the bottom of emails; for apps with high disable rates, the disable links will remain at the top. Taking into account the effect that putting the email disable link at the top of the email has on email disable rates, Facebook Platform’s Tom Whitnah writes, Since having the link at the top generally increases the rate that users click on it, clicks from the bottom of an email will be weighted differently than clicks at the top, so that scores will be based on the quality of the communication, not the ©2008 Inside Facebook 46
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com location of the message. We will also take into account fluctuations in the amount of email sent, so your email limit will not decrease if you start sending less email overall. This is a good move for the Platform, since only a few developers were abusing the email disable link location, and putting the disable link at the top leads to many users inadvertently disabling their application emails - a bad experience for all. 28. Application Directory Although hard to find, a surprising number of application installations come directly from the Application Directory. When submitting your application for inclusion in the directory, be sure to create compelling art and copy for the listing, as well as your application’s About page. Doing this up front will create a meaningful difference in the number of users that add your application from the directory in the long run! ©2008 Inside Facebook 47
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com internationalization is a top priority. (Though of course, there is no way Facebook can solve all the technical challenges associated with building localization support.) I think there is a major opportunity for application developers to piggy back on Facebook’s international growth. Facebook is starting its Translations effort in Spanish, French, and German. Where will they go from there? Here’s a breakdown of where Facebook users live, by country, as of February 2008: Canada 8,724,260 Italy 239,560 United Kingdom 8,680,900 Ireland 228,900 Turkey 2,848,020 Switzerland 221,100 Australia 2,347,200 Saudi Arabia 202,020 France 1,279,920 Greece 184,300 Sweden 1,095,440 Netherlands 181,700 Norway 1,067,540 Pakistan 179,600 Colombia 777,960 China 170,620 South Africa 732,660 Jordan 150,220 Mexico 648,360 Japan 142,180 Egypt 612,720 Venezuela 137,100 India 540,820 Thailand 115,600 Germany 481,880 Philippines 112,340 Finland 429,840 Indonesia 111,620 Israel 427,940 Chile 106,960 Singapore 421,240 Panama 105,620 Denmark 409,800 Argentina 96,620 Spain 333,040 Austria 81,860 New Zealand 312,280 Korea, Republic of 75,860 Malaysia 296,700 Kuwait 69,980 United Arab Emirates 286,820 Peru 68,200 Belgium 258,340 Russian Federation 64,160 Lebanon 252,060 Dominican Republic 53,020 ©2008 Inside Facebook 50
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Developers who take advantage of emerging and quickly growing markets – such as many of those listed above in Europe and Asia – have a lot of room to run. Most American developers don’t understand many of these markets, and will be too focused on running their core businesses in the US to focus their efforts abroad. 31. Coming Soon: Facebook Connect In May 2008, Facebook announced Facebook Connect, a comprehensive set of Platform services designed to let users take their Facebook identity, friends, and privacy anywhere on the web. The idea behind Facebook Connect is a big one. As owners of a very large and relatively authentic part of the social graph, Facebook wants to allow users to share the identity, privacy settings, and friend lists that they have established on Facebook to application providers around the web. Historically, most social apps have attempted to build their own social graph (i.e. many failed social networks) or have punted on the idea of identity altogether (i.e. blog comments). With Facebook Connect, users can trust that their privacy will not be violated when they share their Facebook identity and friends with other sites. Facebook Connect has 4 main features: • Trusted Authentication. Facebook users will be in total control of permissions granted (though the identity crowd will note that it’s a proprietary authentication system). • Real Identity. Users can bring their real identity with them wherever they go on the web, including basic profile information, profile picture, name, friends, photos, events, groups, and more. • Friends Access. Users will be able to take their friends with them wherever they go on the web. This will allow developers to create an entirely new class of applications leveraging much deeper social context. ©2008 Inside Facebook 51
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com • Dynamic Privacy. Users’ Facebook privacy settings will follow them around the open web. For example, if you change a profile picture or change a setting, this will automatically be updated in Facebook Connect partner websites. With Facebook Connect, Facebook hopes to take the Facebook Platform to a much deeper level around the open web. I think there is substantial opportunity for developers to integrate Facebook Connect support into their existing social web apps, and to consider creating new apps to take advantage of the deeper social context that is now possible. 32. Analytics Tools Any web marketer will tell you that measuring and analyzing user behavior and conversions is vital to the constant improvement of any marketing campaign. While Google and others have spent lots of time and energy building analytics infrastructure services for the general web, specialized analytics services for the Facebook Platform are still in their infancy. Because of the nature of social network application development, app analytics is inherently a fragmented problem: because only part of users’ interaction with your software occurs in places that you can measure, application developers must depend on the platform for visibility into channels the platform owns (on Facebook, this means the News Feed, invitations, notifications, and others). Although it did not provide developers with very much information at all for the first few months of the Platform’s launch, Facebook has been slowly but steadily adding more metrics to the Developer dashboard, including total invitation and notification conversion rates recently (though they still don’t provide News Feed impression stats). The rest is left to the developer. Most developers will want to build their own analytics systems that gather user behavior data. From there, the specific tables and reports you build and KPIs you optimize for depend on your particular marketing and business strategy. ©2008 Inside Facebook 52
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com However, an increasing number of third party tools are aiming to help developers understand what their users are doing: • Developer Analytics is a new service created by recent Berkeley and UPenn grads Charles Yong, Richard Chen, and Jing Chen that tracks top applications and provides predictive demographics and application overlap/affinity information in the “Advanced Statistics” of each application’s stats page. Watch for new more robust services coming from Developer Analytics in the near future. • Sometrics is a new service started by Ian Swanson, Matt Gray, and Joe Hsieh in Los Angeles. Sometrics provides app developers with a light tracking code that records traffic, demographic, and conversion data, and appears to be the first firm to track traditional web analytics and social-network-specific metrics. 33. Search Engine Optimization While most developers think about optimizing their Facebook viral channels, most don’t think about SEO as an important user acquisition strategy in the same way that most webmasters traditionally do. To help app developers increase their prominence in search engine results pages (SERPs), Facebook recently enabled developers to serve XML sitemaps off the apps.facebook.com. Sitemaps are used by webmasters to notify search engines of updates to pages and page structure, and generally are a worthwhile exercise in any SEO strategy. Since apps are served from apps.facebook.com, developers get to ride on the back of Facebook’s PageRank - potentially a big leg up on regular web apps. Obviously, applications that serve pages without requiring logins have the most to gain from SEO, since Google’s crawlers don’t login to Facebook and install apps. ©2008 Inside Facebook 53
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Poll: Which viral channels do Facebook users hate most about apps? When the Facebook Platform launched in May 2007, it included access to a number of Facebook’s powerful communication channels right from the start (unlike some other platforms that have launched since). Access to these channels - profile boxes, invitations, notifications, and feed items - allowed applications to spread quite quickly. However, due to user experience complaints, Facebook has been putting in place limits on how much apps can use these viral channels throughout much of 2008. While Facebook has not been explicitly clear in explaining what that feedback is, we ran a Facebook Poll to gain some anecdotal quantitative evidence on what users are complaining about. While the sample size was very small (only 200 responses), the results may offer some clues on upcoming Platform changes. Question: What do you hate most about Facebook apps? Answer Choices: • Too many invitations • Too many notifications • Too much clutter on my profile • Too much clutter in my mini feed The Results: • Invitations are still the most annoying thing about apps (especially for women). • Mini Feed stories are clearly the least annoying thing about apps. • Profile clutter is still a big problem (especially for older folks). Assuming Facebook is seeing roughly the same data in its user experience testing, what are some possible conclusions for the Platform? • Facebook will likely update the rules on invitations again. Per-user limits or ©2008 Inside Facebook 54
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com stricter per-app limits are possible changes. • Given that the new profile page is about to become dominated by the Feed/Wall, apps will be increasingly given more functionality here. • Facebook is also solving the profile clutter problem with the new profile page design. Only 3-5 apps will have a box on the default tab. The rest will be migrated to the new “Boxes” tab (name still TBD). Poll Data: ©2008 Inside Facebook 55
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Recommended Strategies for Application Developers Achieving viral distribution of your application on Facebook is all about taking full advantage of all the viral channels Facebook makes available: 1) Invitations – make sure your apps give users natural and compelling ways to invite their friends to add the app. Applications that prompt users to invite their friends as part of the first time experience have historically grown quite quickly. 2) Feed Items – every time your user performs a significant action in your application, invoke a feed item on their behalf. Feed items are extremely valuable from both an acquisition and retention perspective. ©2008 Inside Facebook 56
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com 3) Notifications – notifications are like mini-email-newsletters, so think of them as vehicles for increasing engagement. However, be careful not to be too spammy, or Facebook will shut you down without telling you why. Ultimately, the goal of any application is to get its viral factor above 1. Take advantage of every opportunity to optimize your application’s virality: Viral Factor = conversion rate * engagement rate * invitation rate • Conversion rate = the percent of invited users who add the app. Maximize this by iterating on your invitation copy. • Engagement rate = the percent of users who use the app. Maximize this by designing compelling features and making thorough use of feed items and notifications. • Invitation rate = the number of invitations sent per user. Maximize this by designing features that encourage your users to invite their friends. Finally, think about each of the profile integration points deeply. The profile box, the main profile area, the tab, the publisher, and the application info section are all powerful and vital channels for the success of your application. For many developers, they’re also the primary source of viral growth. ©2008 Inside Facebook 57
The Facebook Marketing Bible www.insidefacebook.com Conclusion Never before has a social platform emerged that combines the authenticity of Facebook’s culture with the raw power of Facebook’s multitude of viral channels to offer such an unprecedented marketing opportunity. While some remain pessimistic about the potential of social networks to become viable direct marketing channels, I believe that direct marketers who craft intelligent strategies for the Facebook environment–which will require much more creativity than SEM campaigns–will find success. At the same time, Facebook offers brand marketers entirely new paradigms for designing immersive and persuasive brand experiences. At the same time, we are still early in the game, and we have a lot left to learn. Only when marketers learn how to capture new kinds of value available for the first time ever inside Facebook will the markets realize just how valuable Facebook is. ♦ ©2008 Inside Facebook 58