A Timeline Playbook and More Thoughts on Facebook Ads

Hundreds of big brands, ad agencies, and digital vendors converged yesterday at the Facebook Marketing Conference. Dubbed fMC, they were treated to a lavish event at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, including a 45-minute set by pop music star Alicia Keys.

But the crowd primarily gathered for advertising product announcements, and the Menlo Park, CA-based digital giant didn’t disappoint. Facebook introduced upgraded premium ads units, brand Timeline pages, mobile advertising, a new deals product named “Offers,” a marketing tool called “Reach Generator,” real-time Page engagement metrics, and direct two-way messaging with consumers.

ClickZ spoke with several attendees and other marketers to get their takes on the major developments of the day:

Facebook Should Create a Timeline Playbook
Sav Banerjee, a director for digital agency Rokkan
“There will be a bit of a panic in many a marketing department while community managers and strategists scramble to instantly master the learning curve for the new [Timeline] platform. Almost all large brands have a Facebook presence and significant investments have been made into this platform, not to mention its purpose as one of the largest communication networks on the web. The crux, then, is how nimble brands and their agencies can be in seamlessly transitioning current campaigns and strategies to Timeline. The transition burden will fall most heavily on creative and user experience professionals…. To empower and inspire brands to shift to, and innovate around the Timeline platform, Facebook should create a ‘playbook’ of sorts…to help brands understand the implications of the new platform before the full roll-out on March 30.”

Highlight Your Brand’s Heritage
Adam Kmiec, social media director at Walgreens
“For a 110 year old company like Walgreens, we see Timeline as a way to make the past just as important and interesting as the very recent present. Brands with a strong heritage will be able to leverage Timeline to create more meaningful dialogue and develop more of an emotional connection with fans…. While Timeline is getting the majority of the press, the feature I’m most excited about is the ability to directly message fans. This could enable us to extend Walgreens Social Care and better help our customers.”

Mobile Sponsored Stories for Coupons
Beth McCabe, VP/director of social marketing and technology at Digitas 
(Talking about Offers, the new Facebook deals platform.) “Brands with brick and mortar stores will likely get the most value out of [coupon offers], particularly if they can be featured as mobile Sponsored Stories…. Imagine being able to geo-target a Facebook user in your target demographic and deliver them a coupon as they’re steps away from your storefront. It’s a very enticing proposition, and we’re excited about how this could enhance our clients’ Facebook initiatives.”

Align Paid, Owned, and Earned Media
Erika Brookes, CMO for Vitrue
“They’re encouraging marketers to think about advertising on Facebook essentially through the lens of content marketing. Effective social marketing comes from a blend of paid, owned, and earned media. Premium ad units offer brands the opportunity to truly align on these. And again, it all goes back to the content. The most effective paid ad units will mimic the same creative, engaging, relevant, and visually appealing content that brands can produce on their own pages.”

Making Real-Time Insights Actionable
Michael Scissons, CEO of Syncapse
(Discussing real-time Facebook Page Insights, known to lag in the past.) “You are going to see more improvements in the direct response category. But the question with real-time data is – how frequently are companies able to action it? Their workflows are not typically real-time. There’s usually a planning process that goes into those campaigns. I think the reason we are seeing the real-time data is primarily due to [Facebook’s] advertising iterations…the fact that they are turning stories into media products. The gap between publishing for publishing sake and publishing for media products sake has closed.”

Reach Generator Requires Quality Experiences
Jan Reischek, VP of client services at ICUC Moderation Services
“From a marketing perspective, the introduction of Reach Generator is going to have serious implications in terms of engagement and customer retention. By reaching a greater audience, there will be more pressure than ever to create and maintain quality experiences and engaging conversations within branded Facebook pages. If the brand isn’t creating content that is interesting or relevant to consumers, they won’t stick around for long. Monitoring the conversations and listening to customers is more important now than ever to keep a consistent pulse on the tone of the community.”

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