Facebook’s action links - new potential for branded apps

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On Wednesday Facebook launched action links: “a new way for people to interact with your timeline app directly from Facebook”.

An action link is a customised link which sits alongside the classic “comment” and “like” options in open graph stories on the timeline, newsfeed and ticker.

Action link Facebook Foursquare save this place

One of the examples of an action link, given by Facebook, is foursquare. When someone checks in, friends now have the option to “Save this Place” in addition to commenting and liking the story. Clicking “Save this Place” adds the location from Facebook, directly to your foursquare to-do list.

The other example is Fab.com, where the action link “Fave this Product” will enable people to add an item into their own Fab.com favourites.

What action can brands take?

The potential for action links is great. Each app now has the option to drive more people to engage in a single action. For example, after completing a purchase on Amazon, you are given the option to share what you have just bought with friends by posting a story to your Facebook timeline. On this story, Amazon could include the action link: “Add to Basket” or “Add to Wish List”, allowing friends to easily make the same purchase.

This new release will allow open graph apps on Facebook to integrate personalised actions into their stories, increasing the possibilities and removing barriers for interaction. With this extra level of integration, it appears that the Facebook timeline, newsfeed and ticker are becoming a more interactive and potentially engaging space. However, as apps become increasingly integrated, the line is further blurred between being on the Facebook platform and the wider web.

What’s hot in social media – February 2012 round up

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February was a busy month in social media: Pinterest rocketed in popularity so much that some are (wrongly) calling it “the next Facebook”, while Facebook itself announced the roll-out of Timeline for brand pages. Here’s a few other things that have caught our eye this month, which you may have missed:

Twitter sentiment analysis heats up

  • Datasift historic tweetsTwitter and UK based data technology company Datasift came to an agreement to release tweets going back two years. Until now, marketers have only been allowed to see tweets from up to 30 days ago. Datasift will be taking in about 250 million tweets every 24 hours and analysing them for sentiment, location and influence. The effect of this arrangement to access the Twitter archive has led to concerns about privacy, as well as conjecture that it could be a step towards being able to predict future events.
  • And speaking of predicting the future, HP and Organic took advantage of this month’s Oscars to play with some real time sentiment analysis. Similar to XFactorTracker from Professor Noreena Hertz, The Awards Meter used language analysis to monitor Twitter during the run up to the Oscars and ranked nominees according to popular or negative opinion on Twitter. At FreshNetworks we believe that you can’t necessarily take sentiment analysis at face value - automated tools need deeper analysis and understanding of the tool’s inherent biases to really dig in for insights.  However, simple tools like the Awards Meter do hint at how useful it can be to look at social media for viewing overall trends and, and are a great way to demonstrate the technology.

Social influencers are the new darlings of social media

  • PeerIndex, the social influence company has released a service targeted towards people who are ranked highly in specific subjects to offer them related discounts. Essentially a free sampling service, ‘PeerPerks’ aims to differentiate itself by ensuring that free samples only go to people who are really influencers in their product fields – with the aim being that if they then talk about the products in their social circles, the uptake will be much greater. As Ian Carrington, mobile sales director at Google UK said during Social Media Week, consumers are 300% more likely to buy something when it is recommended by a friend, so it will be interesting to see whether PeerPerks takes off.
  • Boo Facebook's most influential dogAnd as we’re involved with Park Bench, a community for dog owners, we like to keep a handle on the non-human influencers in social media too – and with almost 3.5 million fans, Boo is possibly the most famous dog on the planet. Interestingly, it looks like even he is now endorsing products in social media with the recent mention on his Facebook page of a new American Apparel hoodie. Will other brands be jumping on the Boo bandwagon?

Facebook Timeline for brand pages

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Facebook Timeline for brand exampleFacebook has announced the new Timeline layout for brand pages and is planning to make them compulsory on 30th March.

You can preview your page now and once you’re happy with the layout, you can go ahead and publish it.

Many of the features on the new timeline for brand pages is similar to personal timelines. If you’d like to know more, here’s a few things you can expect to find:

Your cover photo

This is the first thing that people will see when they visit your page – as with personal timelines, the cover photo spans the width of your page so it makes a great impact. Of course, Facebook have a few rules in place about what you can and can’t display in this cover photo. Exclusions include: no prices, no contact information, no references to any Facebook feature such as a like and no calls to action of any kind.

The ‘about’ section

Photos, likes and apps are now at the top of your page in the ‘about’ section. Photos show first, but you can change the order of everything else. The ‘likes’ box will show the last five pages that you have liked as your brand – so it’s worth having a think about which ones you want these to be. You might also get a shock when you click on your page tabs and apps – these now all have a wide canvas, so chances are that beautiful tab you made a while ago is going to look rather slim now!

Personalisation

Your Facebook timeline brand page is now highly personalised for your fans. When they visit your page, they will be shown which of their friends have already liked the page and any activity which is associated with them, their friends and the brand. The fact that friends are now shown so prominently indicates that incentivising fans to target their friends may become a more regular goal of brands on Facebook.

Timeline layout

You now have quite a lot of control over the layout of your brand timeline. If you hover over a story or photo, you can click on the star icon to make it wide enough to fill the page (similar to your cover image). You can also use the pencil icon to pin static content to the top of your page or alternatively hide it or delete it.

Admin

However, what’s interesting from a social media management perspective are the new features for page admins. The Facebook Timeline comes with a new admin panel where you can see the latest comments on your timeline and view your insights all in one place.

And what’s really exciting is that the new timeline now comes with a private messaging system. Instead of writing on your wall, fans can now message your page privately. This means that the biggest challenge with the new page may well be customer service based – if your customers want to complain, they will message your page and expect a prompt reply, so you will have to have a system in place to deal with this.