Facebook and MarketingThe recent Facebook changes are game changing. For most this is scary; for us (and hopefully for you, too) it’s exciting! Facebook has managed to make our everyday activities even more social and has created a way for us to share our lives via a virtual scrapbook. This tool lets you feature all your old and new Facebook memories with integrated ways to express yourself through different “lifestyle apps.” Luckily for you, we read every article, and we watched the entire 1-hour, 40-minute f8 presentation, so we are here to condense the information for you as much as possible.

Here are the Facebook changes you should know about:

Only a few things are really going away; it’s the experience and interface that are changing. Here are the latest and greatest new features of Facebook:

The Facebook Timeline — “The story of your life”

The Timeline is the central change in the Facebook revamp. It is your new Facebook profile, completely reorganized with a different way to display your profile picture — a giant picture of you (your cover photo) at the top and a smaller picture (your profile picture) layered at the bottom right of the cover picture. The way the new timeline is set up allows you to keep all of those past memories, updates and posts in an organized manner through a timeline. You can scroll to any time period via the timeline on the side of your “cover photo.” In the f8 conference, Mark Zuckerberg talked about your old profile being what you would tell someone you met within the first 5 minutes: where you work, where you went to school, where you live, etc. This is all condensed and placed below your profile picture now.

From your new Facebook profile you are also able to see things that you recently shared, your recent activity and things you were tagged in. Your apps are now tiles below your cover picture, and there is a map that keeps track of where you’ve been. Anytime you upload a picture, you can tag it with geography — mapping out the place you were when you created the post.

On your timeline, you can sort through old posts very easily, making it much faster than the previous process. The farther back you go, the more condensed it will be, ranking what Facebook sees as the most important posts. You can change that by either hiding a post you don’t think is that important or starring a post you feel should be highlighted.

Open Graph Features

Open graph is another new Facebook change. It feeds all of your activity into a ticker as well as into timeline but not to the newsfeed. You can choose to see this as a bad thing or a good thing. On the one hand, fans’ activity on your page will not show up in their friends’ newsfeeds, but on the other hand, everything will show up in the ticker.

The biggest part of the open graph feature (which has its own EdgeRank type of algorithm) is the way it allows you to interact with other media. Apps no longer have to ask for permission to post content to Facebook over and over again. Instead, a new Facebook permissions screen explains exactly what types of stories will be shared the first time you give an app permission to post to your Facebook. Once completed, it will no longer have to ask for permission.

Facebook has also divided your updates into two different categories: Posts and Activities. Posts show up in the newsfeed; activities show up in the ticker.

There are four main categories for “lightweight” activity:

– Communication
– Media
– Games
– Lifestyle

Partnerships and Apps

Facebook has created some major partnerships that will lead the way into the next social marketing trend: lifestyle apps! Since getting your fan page content to show up in a feed seems downright impossible at this point, getting someone to interact with your lifestyle app may be the answer!

Trailblazing partners:

Yahoo News — opt into this service to see what news stories your friends are reading.

Spotify — discover more music through your friends. You can see who’s listening to what in the ticker, and if you hover over it, you can listen to it.

Hulu — same deal as Spotify but with movies and TV.

The Like Button

In addition to the “Like” button, you will now have more options to choose from. They will now be accompanied by branding actions.

“Before on Facebook it was about getting people to ‘Like’ the brand. Now, it’s about getting people to take social actions enabled by that brand,” says David Berkowitz, senior director of emerging media and innovation for 360i.

The key here is to find out what action(s) you will brand your business with and how you will market that. The new Facebook changes are forcing us to think of marketing in terms of storytelling; adding your personality — the different facets of your life — to your timeline will be the new novelty. Zuckerberg explained he did this because liking something was daunting for some — like an implied endorsement of a product or brand. Now, you are merely “sharing your life story.”

These “activity buttons” are more social by design and will be a key to a successful social strategy.

Email Notifications

Facebook will no longer send you an email anytime there is an update related to your profile. You will only be receiving “important updates” that are deemed important by Facebook and summary emails about stories you may have missed. This is an automatic change; if you want to continue receiving an email for every update, you have to go into your settings and change that.

The big news: you will be receiving reports, and eventually you will receive reports from your lifestyle apps. Zuckerberg hinted that this will eventually be something that can be shared. For example if you are using the Nike run app, you can share your yearly running report with your Facebook friends.

What Shows Up in Newsfeeds?

Your new Facebook newsfeed ranks things that it feels are your top stories at the top of the page, and then puts everything else below that. Facebook has added a control in the top right of each story that users can check to unmark a “top story.” Facebook will use that information over time to target who/what you find important so that your newsfeed is optimized for you. This means users have more control over their newsfeeds, which means as a brand you will have to find a way to come up with relevant content that users will want to opt into. Otherwise, your visibility will be next to nothing (except for in the ticker).

What Next?

Our advice: begin strategizing now and plan for what’s coming next for brand pages or be left in the dust. These changes are huge, but they are good! Also, pay close attention to user activity because as soon as users get over the fact that Facebook has changed again, you will probably see a boost in activity and users will probably spend more time on Facebook than before, playing around with and adding content to their timelines. Because in the end, everybody wants to share their story — people love talking about themselves. So as a brand, the key is figuring out how to be a part of it.

By Ashley Ray (c) 2011