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Dear Q&A Team,
Now that Facebook Home has been released, I want to understand how it will impact my work as a marketer. Is it worth taking a closer look at? What should I be aware of? I want to make sure I don’t frustrate and annoy our fans with ads. Any advice?
“Home” Run or Loss
Dear “Home” Run or Loss,
Here are three ProfNet experts who can address your questions about the impact of Facebook Home on marketers:
What is Facebook Home?
The Google Play store app provides the following description of Facebook Home:
“Facebook Home puts your friends at the heart of your phone. Replace your standard home screen with a steady stream of friends’ posts and photos. Get to apps with one swipe — just drag your profile picture up to open the app launcher. And when you download Facebook Messenger, you can keep chatting with friends when you’re using other apps.”
The app is available for download on various Android devices — including the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, HTC One X and HTC One X+.
Pros to Using Home
Lorrie Thomas Ross, CEO of Web Marketing Therapy, simply says, “Businesses have to respond to Facebook Home — it’s here. The impact on the Facebook pages of organizations hasn’t been discussed enough. It is a big point for professionals to ponder.”
RJ Bardsley, senior vice president of Racepoint Group, says, “If Home takes off, Facebook marketing campaigns (paid and earned) become a lot more impactful. Home has the potential to turn Facebook from a primarily PC-based experience to a primarily mobile experience. This is important, seeing as PC sales continue to drop (14 percent this quarter according to IDC). If marketers invested in Facebook ads or another type of Facebook presence, they’re in for a treat as these move front and center on people’s mobile devices.”
Ross is also excited with the future potential of Home and says, “In theory, the new mobile app could create more inventory and advertising options, which can help address more monetization of the user base. This can also create more ad options.”
Cons to Using Home
Jacob Chapman, vice president of corporate strategy at Sazze, Inc., thinks Facebook Home will not prove to be an attractive option for most marketers of online businesses. Chapman has found that controlling where his message appears is just as important (if not more important) than controlling the content of the message itself.
“Controlling the ‘where’ provides us with insight into and control over our viewers’ moods and intentions,” he says.
Chapman explains that with most mobile advertising, the advertisement is placed within a certain app or collection of apps: “As the marketer, I know certain things about a viewer and their frame of mind if they open the Words With Friends app, or even if they open the Facebook app. Contrast that with Facebook Home, where all I know is that a person has turned on their mobile phone. This type of passive ad impression is phantom advertising and it is not going to be anywhere near as valuable as an ad that is served to someone who is primed for engagement.”
However, Chapman thinks this issue can be resolved if Home can serve up relevant location-aware advertising, which is advertising that is served to a user based on their proximity to the advertiser’s real-world location.
There are dozens of mobile companies trying to make this model work, but no one has been able to get the formula quite right (e.g., Groupon Now!, MobSav, Scoutmob, etc.), said Chapman. “If Facebook Home goes down this road, they will certainly have the brainpower, scale and financial resources to do it successfully where others have failed.”
How to Prepare for Home
Ross recommends that businesses interested in Facebook Home do the following three things: 1) monitor traffic from Facebook to see if there is more traffic driven to their site from mobile devices; 2) anticipate more ad costs to account for the additional inventory that could develop with the new real estate; 3) develop a strategy for the app experience — management, communications and measurement.
The more the marketplace adopts Facebook Home, the more businesses need to be prepared to monitor it and be present on it, advises Ross.
Bardlsey reiterates the importance of being present. He thinks that for good marketers, it should be all about improving the brand’s visibility by providing more value. “Now that marketers know their audiences will be more mobile, we need to think about how we engage and what value we bring to people on the go.”
Nonetheless, Ross thinks one concern for businesses is how Facebook pages will work on Home: “Will they have new features above and beyond the browser experience, or will experience be compromised with the smaller app screen? That will likely evolve in time.”
How Users Will Respond to Home
There is always initial frustration with ads, but consumers seem to get over the initial frustration fairly quickly, says Chapman.
“I definitely think Facebook will need to be very careful about how many ads they insert into Facebook Home, who they allow to advertise and what format those ads take. Tasteful and relevant sponsored posts can probably be worked in without horrendous backlash, but ads for diet pills would drive people to uninstall Facebook Home in short order,” he explains.
Bardsley agrees with Chapman, saying, “Too much of anything can be bad — and this is especially true in marketing.” He strongly suggests that any marketer focusing a campaign or part of a campaign on Home become familiar with the MMA. It has a great set of guidelines/best practices for mobile marketing.
As far as users staying away from the app due to security/privacy risks, Chapman says, “It isn’t as benign as a native operating system like iOS or Android, but there is nothing inherent in the app that makes it more dangerous than the standard Facebook app.”
However, he still urges users to be particularly aware of their privacy settings, because they will be engaging with the Facebook Home app constantly and passively. “Users may be okay sharing certain data, like their location, when they have to launch an app and take an action to share the data — but it is a different story if Facebook Home is always sharing that data whenever they turn on their phone.”
Even though the Facebook Home app may still be evolving, remember this advice from Ross: Slow is the same as stop in the social Web world. Being aware and engaged will only help your social media marketing efforts.
-The Q&A Team
Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. The Q&A Team is published biweekly on ProfNet Connect, a free social networking site for communicators. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.