With 600+ million users on Facebook and online users spending 25% of their time on social platforms it’s not surprising that brands and media companies are trying to reach consumers through social channels.
Companies are developing social media strategies to connect with their target audiences where people are spending their time. Companies are listening to social media conversations, as evidenced by Salesforce.com’s $326 million acquisition of social media monitoring company Radian6, and engaging directly with consumers who are talking about the brand. Brands are growing their Twitter followers and producing online videos for their Youtube strategy. And, of course, what brand doesn’t have a Facebook fan page? Even those likeable guys at BP have a Facebook fan page with 53,000 fans.
I sat down with Ben Pashman of Gigya at the IAB annual conference to talk about emerging social media trends.
One thing that always baffles me is why so many brands run TV commercials with a link not to their own Web site but to Facebook.com/CompanyName. Is the Facebook Web site where brands want to ultimately engage their audiences? Probably not.
What can a brand or publisher do on its own Web site to build social connectivity and social engagement with its audience, increase the amount of data it gathers about its audience, increase the one to one dialogue between brand and user and enable site visitors to participate in conversations? Simply, how can brands and publishers connect with and engage their audiences on their own Web sites rather than off-site, such as on Facebook.com?
The answer is to build social connections from your Web site using APIs. Any time I visit your Web site and log in or register through Facebook, Google, Linkedin or Twitter, I provide you with access to my profile information and social graph, so you learn demographic information about, my likes and interests, and who my friends are. Facebook becomes a data collection and social CRM tool for the publisher.
The important point is to differentiate between Facebook plugins, such as the like button, and Facebook APIs.
Facebook’s API takes more work to integrate into your Web site than plugins such as the like button, but the API allows you to collect more user data. It’s a great way to collect first party behavioral data. Leverage Facebook to start to develop data for your property.
With 3rd party behavioral data becoming more contentious at the federal level, it will be important for publishers to be able to collect first party data for advertisers to help advertisers reach, for example, socially influential young males.
If you can get site visitors to connect with your brand and other site visitors on your Web site, you are forming the beginning of a long term dialogue.
Brands are also publishers of Web content. Coca Cola, for example, builds lots of micro-sites. The purveyor of bubbly beverages builds 300+ web sites on an annual basis. Coke wants to create an environment on its Web properties in which site visitors are encouraged to interact with the brand and other site visitors and to share the conversation with Facebook friends and Twitter followers who have not yet come to the site. For example, if a user is motivated to share a video or a piece of content they’ve created on the web site through some sort of interactive content creation tool, the goal is to enable the site visitor to easily share his creation with other site visitors who form the foundation of a mini community, and to broadcast the message to Twitter and Facebook friends to attract new visitors to the destination Web site.
Expidition 206 – a contest where 3 ambassadors were selected to travel to 206 countries in 365 days – is a good example. Coke is trying to engage people on the Web site, taking advantage of Twitter and Facebook APIs. In the live chat widget to the right a user can chat with the ambassadors and his or her friends by connecting via social networks without ever leaving the Expidition 206 web site.
Some examples of logging in via Social APIs: