According to Luxury Daily writer Rachel Lamb, new updates by Facebook this week are cause for concern among brands advertising on the platform, in that sharing and interaction will become the order of the day. Quoting a speaker from Women’s Wear Daily’s Digital Forum held this week, Lamb said that a majority of brand interaction will be done through sharing between consumers.
That’s quite a shift away from how f-commerce has been conducted up to now. For the most part, brands engaging with the platform have done so through Facebook Pages. From what the article suggests, that is about to change. Wade Gerten, CEO of social commerce platform provider 8thBridge, went so far as to say that “the days of fan pages are dead.”
The culprit mandating this change is the new Facebook Timeline, a scrapbook-like replacement for personal profiles, which will be rolled out to everyone next week. Brands can create apps designed to fit within the Timeline and, to date, about 80 have.
A related article at Internet Retailer explains how these apps work. For example, Facebook users can go beyond the “Like” to a whole new level of interaction in that they can now choose to “Love, Want or Own” a product. When a consumer interacts with these features that information gets shared in their Timeline, on friend’s newsfeeds and via the Ticker.
The apps promise a greater degree of integration with ecommerce websites, as well. Wade Gerten says, “These tools allow us to add social features to web sites, which is where everyone is shopping, instead of doing so on a Facebook fan page, where not that many people go.”
Does this mean that, with the introduction of Timeline, apps are in and Facebook Pages are out? I won’t go that far, but it does mean that sharing of brand-related information becomes more natural. Again, to quote Gerten, ““Brands can literally be woven into a consumer’s life. Billions of Facebook users use the site for the same reason they buy brands – they want to be loved and they want to belong.”
Based on my own experience, Facebook Pages do seem like a third leg. Once I Like a page, there is often very little incentive to revisit it, so I can see Gerten’s point. Conversely, because these new apps tie directly into a user’s Timeline, it stands to reason they will warrant more attention.
Another question to be considered is, will Pages also take on a Timeline-type structure? Though no word has come from Facebook suggesting that will be the case, I can see no reason not to make a change. That’s been Facebook’s practice in the past and it makes sense to maintain symmetry between Pages and user profiles (er, Timelines, that is). Also, with the much richer graphic appeal of Timelines, Facebook Pages look passé and archaic.
Even though they may have very active fan pages, my advice to smart brands is to jump on the app bandwagon sooner than later before the gold rush hits. With the mandatory rollout of Timeline coming next week, this seems like the perfect time.