Face­book announced some major changes yes­ter­day to its plat­form – includ­ing updates to pri­vacy and pub­lish­ing con­trols on user pro­files, and new tag­ging and shar­ing func­tion­al­ity — that have inter­est­ing impli­ca­tions for both users of the social net­work and brands mar­ket­ing on the plat­form. Users appear to ben­e­fit from new access to pri­vacy con­trols and greater flex­i­bil­ity in tag­ging con­tent with non-friend users and location-based data. The impact to mar­keters is more inter­est­ing, espe­cially as we begin to extrap­o­late what these changes mean for reach­ing audi­ences on Facebook.

Loca­tion Tags Increase Life­time Cus­tomer Value

Like the abil­ity to tag friends — and begin­ning this week, non-friends — users can now tag con­tent with loca­tion data and be served Deals not just when you’re in the vicin­ity of a busi­ness, but before and after. So in addi­tion to retriev­ing a Deal at “check-in”, Deals can now be served to users before they get to the loca­tion as well as after they are long gone from the busi­ness. Mar­keters can switch up the types of Deals being offered from in-the-moment redemp­tion to longer-term, push mar­ket­ing cam­paigns that span pre and post point-of-sale experiences.

In-stream Deals Deliver More Impressions

Another plus for adver­tis­ers, Deals will be deliv­ered to the user in-stream below the tagged post in the news feed. This move greatly increases the vis­i­bil­ity of Deals and in-stream Deals, sim­i­lar to in-stream apps, which tend to yield higher lev­els of engage­ment since users spend the major­ity of their time in the news feed and are more likely to engage with con­tent there. Adver­tis­ers would see increased impres­sion rates and could see a lift in deal redemp­tion. Brand vis­i­bil­ity would there­fore expand as a user’s friends and non-friends share and com­ment on that content.

In-stream “Check-ins” High­light News Feed Importance

Although the orig­i­nal Places prod­uct is pretty much dis­ap­pear­ing, Facebook’s change to how a user “checks-in” is really a con­fir­ma­tion of the impor­tance of the News Feed to its user engage­ment strat­egy. Instead of seg­ment­ing loca­tion tag­ging in a sep­a­rate expe­ri­ence, Face­book has brought loca­tion directly to the feed, and along with the abil­ity to tag peo­ple and brands in sta­tus updates, increased the vis­i­bil­ity of global brands and the poten­tial of local pres­ence across the social graph. Accord­ing to com­Score, users spend 48% of their time on Face­book in the News Feed and Pro­file Pages com­bined and this move reflects an empha­sis on improv­ing mon­e­ti­za­tion of loca­tion data by bring­ing it directly into a user’s core Face­book experience.

Inline Shar­ing Con­trols Affect Impres­sions & Engagement

Face­book has paid a lot of atten­tion in this update to inline pub­lish­ing con­trols that make it eas­ier for users to know specif­i­cally whom they are shar­ing con­tent with. Per­haps as a response to the method of Google+ Cir­cles of group­ing audi­ences, users can now choose to pub­lish pub­licly, to friends, to a cus­tom set of friends, and in the future, to smaller groups cre­ated by the user. Select­ing Friends or Cus­tom over Pub­lic could have reper­cus­sions on a brand’s search engine results and rankings.

Audi­ence seg­men­ta­tion in pub­lish­ing implies fewer post impres­sions for some friends and that has impli­ca­tions for mar­keters try­ing to gain stream share through con­tent pub­lish­ing and app engage­ment. Users may choose to limit shar­ing of branded con­tent to a cer­tain sub­set of friends and that could decrease impres­sions and engage­ment for brands. To ensure their mes­sages con­tinue to be heard and shared on Face­book, mar­keters need to start think­ing now about improv­ing audi­ence tar­get­ing and con­tent rel­e­vancy when pub­lish­ing to fans.

Change is Afloat

Ulti­mately, these updates to Face­book will appease users con­cerned about pri­vacy and mod­er­a­tion issues and give mar­keters new rea­sons to con­sider increas­ing local ad spend. And we think this is just a pre­cur­sor to greater changes for users and mar­keters in the near future as Face­book looks to improve user expe­ri­ence and reten­tion, increase the quan­tity and qual­ity of brand mon­e­ti­za­tion for mar­keters, and fuel rev­enue and growth in a matur­ing market.

–Lawrence Mak, Prod­uct Mar­ket­ing Manager