By: Lawrence Mak, Prod­uct Mar­ket­ing Manager

Mark Zucker­berg and his team made a lot of excit­ing announce­ments yes­ter­day at f8, Facebook’s annual devel­oper con­fer­ence. For mar­keters, the sig­nif­i­cant take­away is the way users dis­cover brands and engage with them is evolv­ing. For users, the expe­ri­ence moves from a list of what hap­pened in the last 15 min­utes to a time­line view of the most rel­e­vant and engag­ing events in a user’s life. Mar­keters need to con­sider how best to inte­grate that mind­set to improve dis­cov­ery, increase brand vis­i­bil­ity and drive reg­u­lar engagement.

Time­line is the New Story of Your Life
What is it?

The new Time­line pro­file lay­out is designed to chron­i­cle all the con­tent and apps users pub­lish and share on Face­book and pro­vide a bet­ter way to express one’s self using a big­ger can­vas on one sin­gle page. A user can now insert con­tent any­where in the Time­line and aggre­gate activ­ity that is key to his or her user expe­ri­ence. It all adds up to a more com­plete and per­son­al­ized pic­ture of a Face­book user’s life. Think News Feed meets blog, Twit­ter and Tum­blr all in one.

What’s it mean for mar­keters?
Face­book has not yet announced whether or not this new lay­out will carry over to Brand Pages, but his­tor­i­cally it has mod­eled Pages after user pro­files. In the mean­time, mar­keters should con­tinue to fol­low best prac­tices for pub­lish­ing con­tent that cre­ates the most engage­ment for your audi­ence, as the News Feed itself has not sub­stan­tially changed. Edger­ank still plays a role in what con­tent is pro­moted as Top Sto­ries in the News Feed. Apps also play a more impor­tant role in telling a user’s story on Time­line, so mar­keters will need to focus on cre­at­ing app expe­ri­ences that drive reg­u­lar use and engagement.

Next Gen­er­a­tion Open Graph But­tons
What is it?

The ubiq­ui­tous Like but­ton on just about every web­site these days just got more inter­est­ing. The Open Graph but­ton can now be con­fig­ured to use “any verb” with “any noun” to help users express them­selves in new ways. So instead of “Lik­ing” and “Shar­ing” con­tent, now there is “read­ing,” “watch­ing” or “eat­ing” some­thing, and we’ll start to see more vari­a­tions as brands deter­mine what is rel­e­vant for their offerings.

What’s it mean for mar­keters?
Zucker­berg says these new but­tons will enable users to con­nect to any­thing they want in any way they want. As a mar­keter, you’ll be able to cus­tomize the action verb of the but­ton to some­thing more rel­e­vant to your con­tent. For exam­ple, John “read” this arti­cle, or Jane “watched” this video. This improves rel­e­vancy and acces­si­bil­ity and may drive more engage­ment amongst friends of fans ver­sus Like and Share.

If Face­book allows brands to pub­lish to News Feeds of users who have clicked these but­tons, as it does for the Like but­ton today, mar­keters should ben­e­fit from the more nuanced audi­ence tar­get­ing these but­tons will cre­ate. A third-party pub­lisher who has expe­ri­ence deploy­ing and pub­lish­ing to Like but­tons, like Con­text Optional, can guide mar­keters in set­ting up these Open Graph nodes prop­erly so it’s pos­si­ble to pub­lish to these groups.

These changes have an impact upon the adver­tis­ing side of things, specif­i­cally Spon­sored Sto­ries. My col­league Justin, VP of Mar­ket­ing and New Prod­uct Devel­op­ment, cov­ers these changes in his Effi­cient Fron­tier blog post.

New Apps That Are Social by Design
What is it?

Face­book is intro­duc­ing a new class of apps cov­er­ing media and lifestyle expe­ri­ences focused around things users do day-to-day. These apps are an inte­gral part of a user’s Time­line and enable friends to dis­cover what that user is engag­ing with and the abil­ity to par­tic­i­pate imme­di­ately with that app and that friend. These are apps that are social by design.

What’s it mean for mar­keters?
Mar­keters cur­rently have dif­fer­ent tools to engage audi­ences with. Stream apps pro­vide inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ences in the moment within the News Feed, while Page and Can­vas apps pro­vide more focused, campaign-centric oppor­tu­ni­ties for engage­ment. The new media and lifestyle apps, on the other hand, are really focused on con­tent that users want to share and engage with in their day-to-day life. It’s a new engage­ment tool that requires a dif­fer­ent mind­set from mar­keters — how to cre­ate an app that is rel­e­vant to what users do each day to reg­u­larly engage fans through­out the day ver­sus one-off experiences.

Improve­ments to app per­mis­sions and pub­lish­ing work­flow mean mar­keters need to con­sider what the Time­line expe­ri­ence should look like when an app pub­lishes activ­ity to the stream. New con­fig­urable sum­mary screens for apps that appear in a user’s Time­line will help friends “find pat­terns” in app activ­ity that may also increase dis­cov­ery and engage­ment. The pres­ence of app sto­ries in the Ticker also rep­re­sents an oppor­tu­nity for more engage­ment, as users will be able to launch apps right from the Ticker. The chal­lenge is the Ticker moves so quickly an app story may get buried quickly if it doesn’t encour­age reg­u­lar engagement.

Focus on Social Dis­cov­ery and Reg­u­lar Engage­ment
Over­all for mar­keters, Facebook’s new plat­form updates are about improv­ing dis­cov­ery through more social expe­ri­ences, increas­ing vis­i­bil­ity through new lay­outs in the News Feed and pro­file Page, and devel­op­ing reg­u­lar user engage­ment over time, not just fan acqui­si­tion and growth. We think this opens new oppor­tu­ni­ties for mar­keters to cre­ate inno­v­a­tive app expe­ri­ences and imple­ment engage­ment strate­gies that encour­age fan engage­ment on a more reg­u­lar basis day-to-day. Stay tuned for more updates on how Con­text Optional is incor­po­rat­ing these devel­op­ments and how mar­keters will benefit.