Currently online advertising from Google, Yahoo, et. al., is based on keywords. Both Facebook and MySpace announced this week that advertisers will now be able to target their users based on their profiles, the information about themselves, such as age, gender, interests, hobbies, etc.
But Facebook is going one step further: advertisers will be able to access a user's social graph, the trusted, interconnected relationships that users create on social networks. Advertisers hope that this access to individuals' social graphs will enable them to leverage the trusted recommendations that occur within those relationships. After all, when it comes to trusting opinions, it's friends and acquaintances who have used the product that online consumers trust most, says a Forrester survey conducted in January, 2007.
Set up a Facebook page for your business with interactive applications (called Facebook Beacon) such as booking/reservations systems, wishlists, ticket purchases, etc. When Facebook members use these applications they will be given the choice of having a 'story' of their use being displayed on their profile, or they can opt out. Users can become fans of the brand and interact via 'Wall' messages, upload photos andparticipate in fan discussion groups.
Use Facebook Ads to combine information a a user's website activities---purchases, reviews, wishlists, etc.---with an advertising message. The resulting "Social Ads" are displayed within a user's news feed as sponsored content or in the ad space along the left side of the site. Users cannot opt out of these social ads or turn them off unless they conceal their information---which defeats the purpose of joining a network.
Utilize Facebook "Insight" to gather information and analyze results.
The Guardian's Jack Schofield blogs that Facebook Social Ads are a "...clever way to capitalize on the rise of 'fansumers: the sort of people who buy products as a way of making statements about themselves and their aspirations: in other words, it's the off-the-shelf lifestyle business. (Usually, the 'statement' is that they have more money than sense."
Techcrunch points out that "...advertisers have to be real careful, because if these ads seem too much like ads, people may actually lose friends over it. And those once-happy customers could turn irate quickly."
True. After all, it's one thing to like a brand, even alot. It's quite another thing to bring it into your virtual social circle, er, social graph.
Will users perceive any difference between Social Ads and advertising? Will users be induced to sign up or to change their allegiance? Duh. Okay then, how will that impact acceptance and effectiveness of social ads? What quality controls ar ein place to protect user and company data, and to ensure that social ads to become yet another intrusion?
Despite the inevitable missteps to come, FaceBook Ads offer an exciting opportunity for brands, particularly those who have strong relationships with their customers, and who are willing to cede control of their brands in exchange for a stronger relationship with consumers, er, fansumers.
BTW, you can now access my blog entries on my Facebook page---hey, gotta keep up.:)