Welcome to the third instalment of our series covering the latest happenings on Facebook. This week the focus is on Facebook's new app advertising features.
Facebook Status Update
Facebook have announced that they will be launching a beta version of a new notifications API, a tool for developers that lets all Facebook apps send notifications to users.
Notifications are already an integral part of Facebook, informing users of event invites, comments on photos and groups, to name a few. With this addition of app notifications, brands are able to re-engage users by reminding them of actions they need to take in the app.
It’s good news for brands as it means greater awareness but how will Facebook users feel about it, especially as apps can send notifications to users without requesting additional permissions? Facebook have considered this and people are in control of the notifications they receive. The first few times people see notifications from an app they may accept or decline them. They are also able to opt-out at any time.
Facebook encourages apps to test and monitor how notifications are performing with the notifications dashboard in Insights. In recent tests, people who received high-quality app notifications were five to ten times more likely to click through than they were for requests. It remains to be seen what the success rate will be when fully rolled out but if successful this is a whole new channel for raising app awareness and engagement.
Facebook to Test Promoted News Feed Posts for Non-Fans
Brands are now able to advertise in the news feeds of Facebook users who aren’t fans of their pages. Facebook is testing a new ad format which will allow marketers to promote posts to users that haven’t “liked” a company’s Facebook page.
“Starting soon, we are beginning a very small test that will allow marketers to promote page posts to people beyond their fans in the news feed”
Facebook spokeswoman Annie Ta
The ads will look like typical page post ads in the news feed, but will be labeled as “sponsored,” Ta told Mashable in an email. A screenshot of the ad reveals an option to “like” a company’s page in the top right hand corner of the post.
Currently, only fans who like a brand’s page will receive its posts in their news feeds but the idea of this new format is that it will make it easier for businesses to reach more people.
As with Facebook’s recent launch of mobile ads for apps there is the potential downside of the possibility that users' news feeds will become cluttered with ads from large companies that they are likely to already be aware of, whereas smaller independent brands are unlikely to have the budget to set aside for advertising and depend on word of mouth to promote their brands instead.
First hand feedback from fellow designer Darren Walters is not great.
“I’m fed up of seeing ads for companies I have no interest in!”
Email and Phone Number Based Ad Targeting on Facebook
Facebook have launched a new feature which allows advertisers to target their ads to customers using contact information that they have collected via other channels such as mailing lists.
How it works: A business would probably have a customer list that has been collected via a non-Facebook channel - for example, if I have given my email address to my favourite fashion store so that I can hear about sales and offers. Then that business would be able to upload those lists of email addresses, phone numbers and user IDs to Facebook, with the data hashed first so that Facebook wouldn’t have access to all of the information. Facebook’s user data would then also be hashed, so the company can compare both sets of hashed data. A list of users whose contact information matches up with the advertisers uploaded information will be created.
Facebook describes this process as being about giving advertisers more targeting options, and insists businesses won’t have access to any additional user data. The advertiser does not get any information about who sees its ad, while Facebook does not keep the data provided by the advertiser.
This feature has already been in private testing. According to Facebook and in one early campaign, a financial services company was able to double its fan base in two weeks, at a lower cost-per-fan than ever before. This makes more sense than targeting users at random as if you are reaching out to people who were probably (non Facebook) fans already, it’s likely they would have more of an interest.
It seems as though this is an effort by Facebook to present a more attractive offering for advertisers and it will initially be available to all advertisers who receive support from Facebook. From a user point of view you probably wouldn't mind receiving an ad via Facebook if you already have an interest in the company.
Facebook Friends Can Be Mention Tagged Straight Into The Text Fields Of Any Connected App
Facebook has added a new feature to its Open Graph for developers which has massive potential to increase user engagement and exposure of apps. Mention Tagging allows you to mention Facebook friends straight into message text you enter into any connected app.
This is similar to but different from Action Tagging, the practice of saying that you’re ‘doing things with specific people’. Now, developers can integrate this into their connected apps to allow users to mention other Facebook friends in their messages.
This feature will be used by companies like Foursquare, who can now implement user mentions that work like they do in posts on Facebook.
When someone mentions a friend in an Open Graph app, the story that shows on Facebook links the person’s name to their timeline, and they will receive a notification. The story will also appear in the friend’s timeline or, if enabled, to timeline review. This integration will pick up friends Facebook IDs and hotlink them to their Facebook profile.
Mention Tagging will automatically pop up the user’s Facebook name, but an explicit action must be taken to have it inserted.
Facebook has guidelines on how to implement the feature:
- Have a clear indicator of how to add a tag.
- Indicate when a user has been tagged and provide a way to easily undo tags.
- If you choose to support both action and mention tags, provide a clear distinction between the two.
- Users should input the message and tags themselves, do not pre-fill the user message with text or tags.
- Tagged users must be friends with the tagger, otherwise nothing will happen.
- There are no privacy changes associated with this new feature.
This is yet another new feature Facebook has introduced to allow brands to more easily be part of the stream of consciousness of Facebook users who may not be using their services yet.
A travel based app which uses social discovery from Facebook photos and checkins has caught our eye this week. Tripl is a web and mobile app that builds visual travel logs based on friends’ activity. So users can see where their friends are going and check out places they visit.
Tripl makes use of many Facebook features, photos and checkins and open graph actions to create user engagement. People can explore a trip or love a trip, and both of these actions create a story in news feed, giving everyone in their network an opportunity to learn about and link to the app.
It doesn’t take long to set up an account as Tripl pretty much does everything for you, so it’s worth giving it a go and expanding your horizons!