Facebook announced significantupdates to its news feed last week which could have key implications for luxury marketers.
While there have been plenty of news articles detailing the technical changes, such as bigger photo posts and new filtered feeds, I will focus here on what these changes mean specifically for luxury marketers.
With that in mind, the following are five key takeaways from the announcement, what new strategy and tactics may be in order and how to effectively and efficiently master Facebook marketing now and in the future:
1. It is all about the news feed(s)
Facebook repeatedly said in its presentation that the new desktop experience is “mobile-inspired.” There are no right-rail ads on mobile and they are seemingly minimized in the new design.
The news feed has just become the most important place to reach, engage and convert social + mobile customers.
One thing is clear with these announced changes: the right-rail ad is on the path to extinction and luxury marketers will need to learn how to both optimize news feed engagement through rich content marketing and master the use of paid media to amplify the most effective posts.
And, on a related note, luxury marketers would be wise to keep an eye on the photo feed, which has the potential to become a Pinterest-killer. Transform Albums into Boards and you are almost there.
Pinterest is an amazing visual search engine and we know Facebook wants a big piece of that pie.
2. Likes, comments and shares are the fuel
With Facebook’s additional news feed filtering options, stories have become even more important to customer engagement and social sharing. Why?
Because richer stories with bigger photos and more interesting posts about what friends are sharing means that getting people to like, comment and share has grown even more important.
One can only assume that the effectiveness of stories will improve as well.
While the jury is still out about how the majority of Facebook users will use the new feed filtering tools – will most people watch all friends and close friends feeds or keep their feeds broad – it will ultimately depend on the default setting.
Generally, people do not tinker, even if they can.
Regardless, the path to success will be through rich media posts that generate stories, lots of them.
3. Prepare to up your game
If users set friend feeds as their default, luxury marketers will see significant decreases in engagement with organic posts.
The trend has already been headed in this direction as Facebook has dialed down organic reach to force more media buying.
While I hope this is not the case, and maybe the following feed will become a great place for brands to reach their most loyal consumers, I encourage brands to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Here are three ways brands can do just this with the following feed:
1. Fans may intentionally seek out posts from luxury brands and their influencers. As a result, the attention fans will bring to this feed will be different and more valuable than brand posts seen in any other feed.
Luxury marketers should be prepared with rich, tailored content to ensure they maximize this opportunity.
2. The competition for attention will be different here. Rather than sitting alongside a post about a high school reunion, brands will vie against other brands and influencers.
It will be like advertising in New York’s Times Square. Whoever can do the biggest most interesting thing will win.
While luxury brands already have a leg-up on other industries in this area, they cannot afford to rest on their laurels as marketers across the board learn quickly and avoid much of the luxury industry’s early social experimentation.
3. The following feed may become a more commerce-friendly environment.
As someone who has spent a good bit of time trying to bridge the gap between social and commerce, this is an interesting and welcome innovation.
As Facebook works hard to capture our credit card numbers with things such as gifts, offers and credits, we will become more comfortable shopping. The following feed will be where we go to shop on Facebook.
The other way brands can prepare to up their game is with the new like story that uses a brand’s timeline photo.
This photo will become even more important and will need to be both beautiful and compelling. Watch for Facebook to possibly expand its rules around including offer copy in these images.
4. Double-down on Facebook
With these changes, Facebook is becoming even stickier. These changes will not only increase time on the site, but will drive new adoption as well. Why?
First, the consistency of the experience across all devices makes smartphone users feel instantly welcome.
Whether you join first on your phone, tablet or on the desktop, you will be up and running immediately and transitioning between the three will be elegant and seamless.
Second, the main news feed is now less cluttered and more beautiful, easier to use and more fun.
Third, the new filtered feeds give users more reasons to explore and that means even more time spent.
There is nothing in marketing today that has more consumer momentum than social and, by extension, social on mobile.
If you are struggling to get value out of your Facebook efforts or you have tried bought media or other tactics in the past, it is time to refresh your strategy and approach Facebook with renewed energy and excitement.
5. Watch for trends
Luxury marketers have had great success with Twitter’s simple list of trending topics. And with the ability to sponsor a trend, many brands are seeing amazing engagement rates.
People like to watch what is popular moment to moment, thanks BuzzFeed and TechMeme and Reddit.
While Facebook has somewhat elevated popular items, it has yet to do so in a clean and simple way. It is not totally clear how it will surface trending content or if marketers will be able to buy in, but this will become important.
It has become a common tactic for brands to watch the Twitter trending topics and try to pile on with tweets.
Marketers on Facebook will be smart to try to catch early trends and ride the viral waves for sport and profit.
LUXURY BRANDS have been at the forefront of social media marketing and are no stranger to change within Facebook.
As before, it will be nimble, creative and opportunistic marketers that will leapfrog the competition for share of mind with social + mobile consumers.
And, at the end of the day, these changes expedite trends luxury marketers were already beginning to ride, such as in-stream outreach, rich media storytelling and content that leverages context.
Brands that parlay these changes to the forefront of their strategy will be best equipped to maximize their social investments.
Marko Z. Muellner