Last week we took a deep dive into the world of customer advocacy in order to discuss the recent shifts in brand engagement over the digital space. Essentially, social marketing has the power to be more effective than any preceding method, and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) communication — or as Facebook sees it, friend-to-friend — has ousted business-to-consumer as the approach with the highest return.
The exploration of this new focus is enabled by Facebook’s Open Graph, which organically amplifies awareness via the heart of it all: word of mouth. This time around, we’ll take a closer look at exactly how.
Timelines and Billboards
In order to inspire word of mouth, brands have to be where their customers are– which these days, is everywhere. The key is to create opportunities for contextually relevant interactions. This includes primary websites which, despite the popularity of social platforms, still account for the majority of brand engagement.
The Open Graph amplifies these interactions by reflecting them back into Facebook, making Consumer Timelines prime real estate. Here, the consumer frictionlessly reveals a collection of his or her brand relationships. They simply engage wherever they see fit, and that engagement is published for all of their connected friends to see, comment on, and ultimately be influenced by.
The more opportunities a brand provides for interaction, the more a consumer can engage, and the longer the stories of those interactions remain visible on their Timelines. The consumer interactions with a brand are displayed collectively in a fixed “Brand Billboard” of ongoing updates, which sits front and center.
The seamless combination of points of engagement and social networks will finally enable the cultivation of word of mouth marketing efforts at scale, with an endless degree of behavioral insight to boot.
Owned Media → Earned Media → Paid Media
Zuckberberg himself has been known to say that the future of Facebook isn’t on Facebook.com, and he’s right. The fact that Facebook’s product is the consumer was further underscored by the unveiling of Sponsored Stories, which allow companies to purchase ad units of C2C interactions via the Open Graph to extend visibility, shelf life and, ultimately, the ability to influence.
Sponsored Stories are more powerful than Facebook ads because, as Phil the Engineer puts it, “It’s not this message saying you should buy this thing or, you should go to this website. It’s your friend saying look, I did this, and I want to tell you about it.” In layman’s terms, it’s honestly delivered. And with this social context, recall is increased by 50% over other messages.
The key takeaway here is that using owned media, like your website or email list, will drive earned stories from the Open Graph into Facebook, and eventually provide more than enough insight into which stories could most effectively influence a consumer’s extended network. And investing in those instances specifically is certainly money well spent.
The Consumer Focus
Like Zuckerberg, today’s smartest businesses understand that it’s all about the consumer. The shifts it takes to reflect that are radical for most, but if you can adjust, the benefits are far beyond what we’ve previously known. In the next part of this series, we’ll talk about what those are.