Remember those days when everything on the Internet was optimized for the desktop experience? Dot coms were the kings leading the charge in captivating internet users and driving commerce. Gone are those days now. On Tuesday, Facebook announced the rollout of its new revamped, fully mobile optimized brand pages, starting with mobile web and iOS with the updates on Android devices coming soon.
Since its inception, Facebook has been playing catch-up in the mobile space, crafting its on-the-go experience to be a mere extension of its desktop platform. Continuing with this approach has proven to be problematic. Mobile usage is experiencing explosive growth and social media is leading the charge. Any platform that doesn’t get with the program will eventually fall behind.
Here are just a few statistics to back this up:
· eMarketer estimates that there will be nearly 100 million US mobile social network users this year and a significant percentage will be Facebook users.
· eMarketer also estimates that 79.4 million US consumers, amounting to 51% of digital buyers, will purchase online using a mobile device.
· According to a survey by Technorati, Facebook ranks as the social network most likely to influence purchases among US internet users, and ranks closely behind blogs and brand sites overall.
So what are the changes?
1) Brand Information
While the old mobile brand page still presented information about the brand on the page itself, it was not at all efficient. The tendency was to treat a brand’s name and cover image as the primary identifier of a page. Now, with the Profile Image (usually the brand logo), the Cover Image (usually featuring brand themes or products) and Business Category all rolled-up on the top of the page, mimicking Twitter’s mobile page experience, Facebook has made it very easy for users to learn about brands without doing much digging.
Unlike previous brand page designs that merely sought to engage with users via posted content, Facebook’s new page design now places every level of interaction (public or private) as high priority, driving both online and real world actions. With the interaction bar containing options to Like, Check In, Call and Message, placed right under the information bar, users are directly encouraged to interact with the brand, rather than just absorb posted content.
Consistent with the intent to drive commerce and real world actions, the new brand page also now includes mapped locations. Flowing along with brand discovery and interaction, the location box is now a prominent fixture on the brand page, showing a convenient map of the brand’s physical location and hopefully driving foot traffic and in-store commerce. I guess this is part of where Facebook’s partnership with Microsoft comes in handy. Bing!
Logically speaking, published content on a brand page has never been that high of a priority, perhaps the reason why Facebook’s old brand pages did not feature any posts at the top. However, community managers need not languish at this. Brand published content is still very important as it provides primary touch and on-going engagement points for users in the newsfeed, allowing users to discover more about the brand’s lifestyle, progression and history. Again, this is not to say that content is no longer important on the brand page. The rearrangement and consolidation of brand information has created space on the mobile brand page, which brands can now use to either pin posts as means to preview content on the timeline.
What do these changes mean for brands?
These changes mean that unlike previous mobile brand page designs that merely sought to optimize the desktop experience, Facebook has been working closely with brands to build a process flow that takes users from discovery to physical action (purchase), all while allowing them to easily engage in conversations with the brand and other users on an on-going basis. It means that brands now have more confidence in establishing a social presence and ensuring that how they present their information and how they publish can directly impact their business objectives. Social is now the king of the internet, while dot com has now become the extension piece where the actual transactions take place (at least for now). What remains to be seen is whether a similar approach can now be applied to brand pages on desktop, which our spies confirm is in the works.