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Facebook Offers New Features to Appeal to Businesses

March 8, 2012 No Comments

By David A. Kelly, Upside Research

new facebook pages2 Facebook Offers New Features to Appeal to BusinessesSocial Media within the organization can be two-fold: using social media to reach and interact with customers or using social media technologies inside the four walls to encourage collaboration among employees. Many of the recent posts I’ve made regarding social media have focused on the latter, or how enterprise social media technology is impacting businesses. Today, I’m taking the other view, how social media giant, Facebook, is engaging with businesses to promote new ways for them to interact with their customers.

Last week, Facebook announced new updates to its Pages, specifically for Brand pages, which are those pages that companies create and manage as part of their larger marketing and branding efforts. Among the poster children for the newly launched features in Facebook were daytime news show The Today Show, rock band Coldplay, the New York Times, Starbucks, and 1-800 Flowers.

A new addition to the Brand pages will be Timeline, which is a Facebook application that enables companies to create a visual timeline of important events and topics, past and present, to share with customers. Timeline has been available to users since December, and with the new announcement, companies are able to update their Brand pages with Timeline until March 30, when it will automatically update all Brand pages.

Timeline provides an opportunity for businesses to create a specific lens through which customers can view a specific product or company. Businesses can “pin” certain announcements or items to the top of the Timeline for extend periods, for example a week, so that when customers visit the Timeline, they’ll see those posts at the top.

On the administrative side, Facebook has added admin tools that enable page managers to track the performance of pages, and respond to private messages from fans/customers. Facebook has also enhanced its ad distribution capabilities by releasing Reach Generator, which is a premium service for business users to help improve ad reach. With Reach Generator, Facebook claims that businesses can increase the views by fans of their ads from 16% to 50% each week.

The main push that Facebook conveyed with the new features launch is that businesses need to change the way they use advertising to reach customers. The new standard for marketing to customers is to engage them in a meaningful interaction, using stories to build brand loyalty and convey value. Social media is a key tool for disseminating this new marketing paradigm, and businesses need to meet the customers where they spend their time, which is on social networks like Facebook.

What does this mean for CIOs and IT Managers? It’s germane for several reasons.  First, as Facebook has highlighted, the nature of marketing and reaching the customer is going through a significant shift, unlike any in recent history. Therefore, enterprise marketing solutions will need to accommodate for these new and different ways of engaging customers, measuring the impact of those interactions, and providing a closed-loop system to continue to iterate the right marketing mix.

Also, the new customers that businesses need to market to are very often employees of other organizations. This means that the employees within your organization will begin to want different ways of communicating and collaborating during work. It’s the notion of bringing Facebook, or some instantiation of it, into the enterprise and finding a place for it. It speaks to a greater wave of change in human interaction, and at the core is social media technology, which has its place in the enterprise. The question is what that place will be for your organization, and how IT can become an enabler and supporter of the new paradigm.

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