Hulu’s 2017 Emmys First Paves the Way for Social Programming


I’ll admit it, I always use the Emmy’s as a way of validating my TV-watching habits. And while they’ll never give me an excuse to watch the Real Housewives of <insert city>, at least this year my taste for The Handmaid’s Talewas not only confirmed by TV’s highest honors, it made Emmy history by making Hulu the first digital platform to bring home a top series award.

This is no easy feat in this golden age of TV, where Game of Thrones producers spend an average of $10 Million dollars per episode. Today’s viewers expect dragons to look real, they expect authentic drama, nonstop action and big-time celebrities. When viewing is more on-demand than ever, and supply is the highest its been in TV history, viewer sophistication and expectations have clearly never been higher.

If I’d written this in 2014, I might have told the three big  networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) to watch out for Starz and HBO in 2016. But in looking out for 2018, it’s Netflix and Amazon who need to step up their game, because digital programming will not stop with Hulu. #SocialisComing.

We’ve already seen YouTube, Facebook and Twitter not only rejigger their platforms to make video more prominent, they’ve also dipped their toes into original programming. From Facebook’s Strangers to Twitter’s upcoming launch of AM to DM, its live morning show with Buzzfeed News, social is ready to rock the on-demand video viewing world.

Facebook in particular is poised to revolutionize original programming and on-demand viewing with episodes in the 15-minute range (right in line with user preferences on mobile devices); a brand new Watch tab on its mobile experience; and ways to share, co-watch and comment on programming that are simply unavailable with traditional TV networks. Twitter and YouTube’s options aren’t too shabby either. They’re both focusing not just on great original programming, but on original programming that’s endemic to their platforms. Where do you go for real-time updates? Twitter. Where do you go for the funniest clips? YouTube. These are smart strategies that have the potential to leave other digital platforms in the dust.

Even more promising for social programming are the lower barriers to entry for creators themselves. Facebook’s Watch inquiry page suggests it will consider a wide range of content creators from individuals (read: influencers), to pubishers, to sports bloggers, artists and beyond. And they stand to make money off of each new show they add, with ad breaks and branded content.

Obviously influencers having their own shows is nothing new for the likes of YouTube, but this opens up the floodgates for Facebook to create its own niche that perfectly balances the expectation of highly-produced TV shows with the immediacy of raw and unfiltered influencer videos. Something that won’t take long to take off.

With more ways to resonate with audiences in formats that are untouchable for linear TV, social original programming will be the star of 2018. Stay tuned.

The Silent Social Feed: Creating Video in an “Audio Optional” World


If you’re not building mobile-first videos because you can’t stomach the additional production dollars, you’re doing the same thing users are doing in their feeds—not listening. In fact, 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound.

And with video consumption on the rise across all social platforms, mastering the ability to create video that works with or without sound is key to success in the feed. Instagram’s video consumption has increased by 40% in the past 6 months, and Facebook is reporting that the shift to video consumption is bigger than our shift from desktop to mobile. Pause and take that in.

Yes, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed. “We didn’t budget for this!” you’re thinking. Unfortunately, the data makes it even clearer that stuffing your :30 and :60 minute TV cuts into a pair of social skinny jeans isn’t the way forward. It’s time to learn how to live in an “audio optional” world.

To succeed in our already inundated feeds, follow these seven best practices for social video:


Because of auto-play functionality, videos are mostly consumed with the sound off, so creating videos that make sense to users without sound is imperative to not only capturing their attention to watch the entire video, but also to ensuring recall. You might argue that Facebook has a nifty new caption functionality within its platform, but those captions aren’t always accurate and there’s no creative control over the text placement. Additionally, other networks (namely Twitter and Snapchat) don’t have this capability.


Focus on stories that can be told very quickly. If you’re working from a TV spot, think about your spot in vignettes. Are there parts that can be told more quickly, or segments that can be removed, leaving the story intact?


In social, keeping your video’s point a mystery for too long will hurt you. People just won’t watch. I’m not saying you have to give away the whole ice cream truck, but you do need to give out some free cones in the form of some type of action or expected result. Often brands will put the end result in the first 3 seconds (the time that’s needed to count as a view), include some sort of title card, and then work back up to the end in the meat of the video. Additionally, videos that feature people in its opening moments generally drive more qualified video views (meaning users who are actually interested in the content, who watch through to the end). However you decide to approach it, the video’s focus should be clear in the first few seconds, otherwise you’ll lose the user.


Your brand doesn’t need to be front and center throughout the entire video. But, if you’re running any kind of brand awareness study alongside your creative, you’ll want to make sure that, no matter what, you include your brand within the first 3 seconds. That counts as a view, so it’s either that or #forgetaboutit. Again, you don’t need to create an overlay (though you can), but you could subtly place your product, or insert “XYZBRAND presents”, but make sure it’s in the beginning of your video. Obviously, it’s better to start with some sort of action to capture the user, so if you can get your brand in there, great. If not, add that title frame in there before the 2.5-second mark and you’re golden.


One caveat. No matter how you reveal the focus of your video, storytelling always wins. Videos with clear story arcs (e.g. a beginning, middle and an end), are more memorable and according to Twitter, drive lifts in purchase intent. So if you’re working with longer form video (meaning 1-minute plus), think of ways to first capture the user and then build a story that maps to the storytelling arc you learned in 3rd grade.


Okay, you don’t need to go as far as captions for your videos, but there are definitely creative ways you can incorporate text overlays into your videos to help move the story along more quickly and in an engaging way. Take this Wrigley’s ad for example.

Here’s the TV ad:

Here’s the Facebook ad:


facebook wrigley 1


facebook wrigley 2facebook wrigley 3

facebook wrigley 4






Though we don’t have the entire video playing here, you can see that they’ve taken the same concept from the TV ad and shortened it significantly and added the “Will he dare? Skinny Dip” text overlay, to give a better idea of what the user is viewing. It also does a great job of getting the branding in early!


Last but not least, when it’s feasible, consider going live with video. It doesn’t make sense in all scenarios, but when it can be tied to an event IRL (in real life), it’s one of the most engaging video formats. Facebook reports that its live videos receive 10x more comments than regular videos and Twitter reports that Live video on its platform drives the highest levels of favorability in online video.


Originally posted on

facebook algorithm change in 2015

Times Are A Changin’: The Facebook Algorithm in 2015


Times are changin’ – literally and figuratively. Yes, we’re moving into 2015, switching over our calendars and preparing ourselves for another countdown. But the countdown we should really be paying attention to is the countdown to a very, very new Facebook (at least where marketers are concerned).

We’ve talked about this before – organic reach on Facebook (and soon other networks) has already decreased for most brands. But in January, Facebook plans to make an even more substantial change to its algorithm (not EdgeRank anymore), significantly decreasing organic reach for any Facebook content that is deemed as promotional in any way. If it looks like an ad, smells like an ad, reads like an ad, you’ll have to pay to ensure that users see it starting in January 2015.

Here’s the deal. Facebook reports that an average of 1,500 stories are generated each time someone logs in. Of those, a user’s Newsfeed only displays around 300. And its algorithm is the deciding factor as to which stories you see – it filters based on factors relative to what each user likes, their clicks, articles they’ve commented on, etc.

And recently, via a user experience survey, Facebook found that users wanted to see more stories from friends & pages they care about, and less promotional content. This didn’t mean ads, though. This meant salesy posts from the pages users already “Like.” So in response to this, Facebook has rejiggered their algorithm to filter out any “overly promotional page posts.”

Facebook constantly makes updates to its algorithm, however this recent change is one of the most substantial updates they’ve made so far. In effect, Facebook is forcing marketers who often use the network as a means of promoting their contests, new products and events, to spend money on ads, if they want these messages to be seen (even by their existing followers).

And, not only does Facebook want to control how & how many promotional messages users see, but they also want to control who sees them. If someone is going to see a promotional message, Facebook wants to make sure that it’s marked as such AND that it’s shown only to users who will find it highly relevant. And the only way to do that, is by paying for an ad and selecting a very specific target audience. In theory, the more hyper targeted your ad’s audience, the more relevant the ad creative can be, the higher the engagement rate, and the more satisfied Facebook users will be.

This is certainly great from a UX perspective. But for marketers, this means more money, more creativity and, our favorite, more time. And we’re a little suspicious of Facebook’s actual motives i.e. Facebook is likely looking to get rich quick (or wait, have they already done that?).

Okay, so what’s all of this mean for YOU?

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. You need a budget. No matter what you have planned for the next year on Facebook, if an ad budget isn’t a part of that plan, you need to start over. Facebook ads are no longer an option, they’re a requirement, especially if you want to increase your reach and amplify your promotional messages. Remember, if your post has any of the following involved it MUST be posted as an ad: contests, events, product-heavy, “buy this.” The specifics are outlined here.
  3. Get creative with your organic posts. You can’t post about a gift card sale. You can’t post about an event. You have to add value to people’s lives in some way. You have to provide quality content that’s creative, that makes people stop & think, and then share.
  4. Be relevant. If you want to increase your organic reach, you must increase your engagement rates. What’s the best way to do that? Talk about what matters. Have a point of view about trending topics and always think about what’s going on seasonally, and personally for your community.
  5. Measure. If you’re not already tracking your social metrics, get on it. You’ll need to ensure that both your organic posts and paid ads receive high engagement rates. Because this will be one of the biggest factors determining whether users will see either type of post. Now, you not only need to spend more money with Facebook ads, but you also need to spend more money reporting out on organic and paid content.
  6. Optimize. And what should you do with those reports? Use them as the basis for continual optimization. Use the insights to discover which content is best performing and replicate it. Do A/B tests with your paid ads to determine what’s going wrong with the ads that receive low engagement rates – is the creative off or is your targeting off? Or both?

This is a lot to take in. Facebook and the constantly changing world of social media can be a bear. Fortunately brands who are already leveraging paid social will have a little easier time making this transition. They’ll just need to review their ad creative and optimize for the highest engagement rates and be sure not to post any ads to their wall as organic posts.

But for marketers who have yet to explore the world of Facebook advertising, this may take some ramp up time and potentially some consultation with someone who knows the ins and outs of paid social.

It’s a Jungle Out There: How to chose the perfect Facebook ad format for your goals


Facebook advertising is more sophisticated than it was a year ago, or even 6 months ago. When advertising was first introduced to the platform, Right-hand Side Ads were the only option, but now the options are almost endless (at least with the various types they seem endless!).

Navigating these different ad options can be tough for a marketer to do without a ton of experience under his belt. There are so many things to consider:

  1. What are your goals?
  2. How are you measuring success?
  3. What kind of content do you have at your disposal?
  4. What kind of content does your target audience engage with the most often?
  5. How do you want users to change with your content?

To help you more easily choose the right ad type for your specific needs, here’s a rundown of the different ad types and the best ways to use them:

Right-hand Side Ads

Right-hand Side Ads

Right-hand Side Ads

These are the traditional ads provided by Facebook that allow advertisers to get in front of users who are on their desktop devices. The important word here being…DESKTOP. They aren’t served on mobile devices, so if you’re trying to reach people when they’re on the go, this is not the best option for you. Also consider that at the end of January 2014, Facebook mobile users surpassed desktop users.

Right-hand Side Ads work well as a means of awareness and continuity for the rest of your campaigns – they’re a great way to keep your brand and message top of mind throughout your campaign.

With a platform like AdRoll, you can use Right-hand Side Ads to retarget users and get them back to your website or landing page to achieve higher CTRs and engagement rates.

Facebook Promoted Post Ads – Link & Image

Recently, Facebook changed its algorithm (EdgeRank), making it nearly impossible for brands to appear in a user’s News Feed without serving an ad. So, if you want to make sure your post gets seen, you’re going to need to put some money toward it. The good news is that promoted posts (when done correctly) are very engaging and see low CPCs.

There are two different types of Promoted Posts to use for different purposes.

Image Promoted Posts

Image Promoted Posts

Image Promoted Posts used to be the only option for Promoted Posts. This was based on the knowledge that users interacted with image posts more often than link or text posts. In fact, photos on Facebook generate 53% more Likes than the average post. So if you’re looking for user engagement in the form of page Likes, post Likes, comments, or shares, Image Promoted Posts are a great way to go.

The one downside to Image Promoted Posts is that you cannot ensure a click to your landing page or Facebook tab with one of these posts. When a user clicks on the image, he or she is taken to a larger version of the picture, not to your website, so there is no way to guarantee that a user actually gets to your site. When bidding on a CPC basis with these posts, you aren’t paying for a click to your landing page, you’re paying for a bigger image view.

The best way use Image Promoted Posts is to increase your Page Likes or interactions with your brand in general, as they garner more shares and Likes (in my experience) than any other format.

Link Promoted Posts

Facebook Link Promoted Post

Facebook Link Promoted Post

A month or so after Facebook introduced the new link post format with much larger images, they also introduced Link Promoted Posts. Like Image Promoted Posts, Link Promoted Posts can be served to users on both mobile and desktop devices and are best used for directing users to another landing page or Facebook Tab, because no matter where a user clicks on your post, he will be directed to your landing page. In that vein, if you’re measuring success by the amount of leads your campaign as generated, or entries your contest received then Link Promoted Posts are the most efficient use of your budget.

Facebook has also introduced Cost Per Action bidding, which allows an advertiser to pay only when a user has visited your website or when a user completes some pre-determined action (like filling out a form). In my experience, though, the average cost per action is much higher than your average cost per click AND Facebook will generally serve fewer impressions of your ad because they’re not guaranteed to make as much money off of it.

Page Like Ads & App Install Ads

There are a few other ad types I haven’t mentioned, like Page Like Ads & App Install Ads. As their names suggest, Page Like Ads are used to help you generate more Likes to your page and App Install Ads (allowed only on mobile devices) are used to advertise a new app to user.

The best campaigns use a mixture of all of these ad formats (except for the App Install Ads, which don’t apply to all situations). As they all serve a different purpose, they’re complementary in that manner – Increase awareness with Right-hand Side Ads, increase user engagement with Image Promoted Posts and, further down the funnel, capture a user’s information with link promoted posts.

What other questions do you have about the different Facebook ad types?

I’m more than happy to answer them – just tweet @social_allie.

A Decade of Facebook


In just a few weeks, Facebook will turn 10 years old.

To put it differently, I’ve been using Facebook for a decade.

Somehow it’s not even a teenager and it’s one of my best buds.

But it’s not just a reliable pal, it’s also revolutionized the way the world communicates.

Don’t get me wrong, Facebook didn’t go it alone, but it did give social media the mass appeal it now enjoys, paving the way for some of our favorite networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram…Jelly?!) to thrive.

I remember when I built my original profile on I’d known about “the Facebook” for a little while, but I had to wait for my .edu email address to sign up. Yeah..remember that? When only college students could sign up??

Back then, I used it for the basics: posting pictures and finding out if my fellow classmates were single (I sort of don’t want to admit that). It became the first stage of profiling, even before the exchange of numbers for old-school texting.

Soon it was event central. If you were having a party at your dorm, you were definitely making a Facebook event and inviting all of your friends (well…maybe not all of them).

My first Facebook profile picture

My first Facebook profile picture

It wasn’t until my sophomore year that Facebook finally launched their Newsfeed. Yes, I’m serious…there was a Facebook without the feed…which I, at the time, checked probably 17 million times a day.

Fast-forward four years, and Facebook (& Twitter & YouTube & LinkedIn) had become a mainstay of my job, even though there were no classes about it in my undergrad advertising program. The marketing world was changing while I was in school, and by the time I had my first “real” job, social was the topic of conversation for CMOs across the country. Four years…that’s it.

By the time Timeline was introduced in 2011, small businesses and huge marketing companies alike knew that social media (not just Facebook), could not be ignored. And it’s not because it was another outlet to shout at consumers, it’s because consumers were now growing up, as I had, with social media. It was not only a part of our everyday, but Facebook was now a part of our story.

Sure, there are still significant negative associations with social networks (privacy risks and big data are a few), but I challenge you to consider the significant strides we’ve made since Facebook gave social media its popularity.

Family, friends and brands are able to connect and converse (like actually converse) with each other, while also communicating with an entire circle of people, so that it’s not just one conversation, but it’s one and many simultaneously. We’re able to remember the important things happening in each other’s lives and feel connected, even if we haven’t seen or heard from someone in years.

So I’m sappy. But Facebook is one of my oldest friends and I interact it every single day, multiple times a day. So, to me 10 years is a big deal. And I’m anxious to see what will happen in the next 10.

What’s your first memory of Facebook?

If you’re interested in a little more Facebook history, check out this infographic by Inside Facebook.

Data-Based Advertising: Targeting with Facebook Partner Categories


When isn’t Facebook in the news? It seems that, no matter what, there’s always a story. Facebook stock has gone down! Facebook stock as gone up! Facebook changes its layout…again. Facebook allows video ads! The list is endless.

So, sometimes the really HUGE information can get lost. In this case it’s Facebook’s partnership with Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon. Techcrunch and some of the other tech-savvy pubs covered this news. But somehow its importance to advertisers just didn’t break through. Instead, consumers were more worried about the impending transfer of personal data from these services to Facebook (understandably so).

But from an advertisers standpoint, this news is groundbreaking. These data services will match up a user’s online browsing activity (outside of Facebook) with their Facebook user IDs, thereby allowing Facebook to provide advertisers over 500 new unique targeting groups (with more to come).

These third-party data services provide additional data to make your target audience come to life in an even more relevant manner. Here is an overview of the targeting capabilities provided by these data services and a little more about each company:

Facebook Targeting Partner Categories

Acxiom is a data company with 32 billion data records. It’s one of the industry leaders when it comes to compiling, managing, and applying consumer & business data for marketing. Facebook’s current partnership with Acxiom allows you to target based on the household information of a user (their dwelling type, the market value of their house, whether they rent or own, etc.). You can also target users based on what sort of bank cards/credit cards they use, whether they invest some of their money, and what their job role is (administration/managerial, clerical, educator, farmer, financial, etc.).

Acxiom - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

Datalogix has a database containing more than $1 trillion in offline purchase-based data. They convert this data into an online universe of custom-made targeting profiles. Facebook’s partnership with Datalogix seems the most beneficial as it includes general buyer personas (e.g. fashionista, healthy & fit, green consumers, sportsman, etc.), retail categories (flower buyers, childrens products, pet supply, etc.), and subscription service categories (enrolled in online higher ed, has a mortgage, signed up for online auto insurance, etc.) to make it a bit easier for advertisers to put together their targets.

Datalogix - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

Datalogix - Facebook Advertising Partner Targeting

When I first learned the word Epsilon, it was as a letter in the Greek alphabet (I have my 10th grade teacher to thank for having memorized the entire thing!). But Epsilon, the data company, provides transactional data and consumer-reported survey data. Its partnership with Facebook now allows advertisers to create target audiences based on the type of business a person works for, their occupation, whether they have auto loans, if they donate to charitable causes, buy magazines, and more.

Epsilon - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

All of these data options make it easier for advertisers to reach audiences that they might not have been able to in the past. Gone are the days of having to resort to LinkedIn to reach someone in a certain profession. Gone are the days of guessing the items people purchase based on their “Likes.” Now there’s actual data to back these suspicions up.

Because of these partnerships, Facebook ads will not only be more targeted, but they will also be more relevant to they users they’ve targeted. B2B companies, retail companies, and all other companies now have the capability to know that they’ve targeted the right person with a message that’s relevant to them.

Facebook Advertising: Targeting Niche Audiences


While I strongly recommend well-thought-out social media strategies that predominantly include organic social media tactics, I also understand the necessity for paid social media advertising (though I wouldn’t advocate for Twitter promoted trends unless you have a luxurious marketing budget).

Paid social ads, particularly Facebook ads, are relatively cost efficient, have the ability to kickstart a campaign and, most of all, they provide one of the most highly targeted mediums available.

Gone are the days of the “cast a wide net” theory. Now it’s the online networks and publications with the ability to provide hyper-targeted niche audiences that are of most interest to advertisers. Facebook is one of the best when it comes to reaching these tightly woven target audiences.

For some reason, though, whether it be the hype associated with the Facebook IPO or the general misuse of Facebook ad campaigns by the average user, the amazing targeting options and high click-through rates of Facebook ad campaigns are often lost on marketers.

Some suspect that their target audience simply isn’t on Facebook or that Facebook users don’t click on ads. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In Q1 of 2013, Facebook reported that it had 1.11 BILLION users. A wide variety of reports confirm that these users also check Facebook daily, if not multiple times per day (especially on their mobile devices)…even while they’re working out. And if you’re using the correct combination of creative elements and have the correct strategy in place (e.g. lead generation), Facebook users WILL click on your ads.

Now that we’ve tackled that elephant in the room, let’s dive into what exactly the Facebook targeting options are:

  1. Demographics: You can target users by location (by zip code, city, state, country, within x miles of specific cities), age (any range up to age 65), sex, and relationship status (married, engaged, single with interests in males or females).
  2. Birthday: You can create ads that are targeted at people who have a birthday in the next week (or other specific timeframe).
  3. Precise Interests: Facebook considers information such as the Facebook pages the users “Like,” the apps they use, and any other information they have added to their Facebook timeline, to determine their precise interests. These can be drawn from their listed interests, activities, education, job titles, groups they belong to, and more.
  4. Facebook Broad Categories: If you need a little help developing your target audience and can’t quite come up with precise interests, Facebook also has broader categories. These are also based on users’ status updates or any actions they have taken on Facebook.
  5. Education: Target users by the year they graduated, whether they’ve graduated or are still in college, which university they attended, and even which subject area they majored in.
  6. Connections: In addition to this demographic data, you can also target people who have “Liked” your page, joined your group, RSVP’d to your event, or users who have used your app. You can even reach the friends of people who have taken any of these actions, which is a powerful way to gain new users/”Likes,” as friends tend to have similar interests.
  7. Partner Categories: Here’s where it gets even more robust. Facebook has partnered with Acxiom, Datalogix & Epsilon to provide over 500 unique groups (with more to come) of people to target via Facebook. These services allow Facebook to combine information from their partners (which is based on a user’s online browsing activity on websites other than Facebook) with the information gathered from the user’s activity on Facebook. Click here for more about targeting with Facebook’s Data Partners.
  8. Custom Audiences: Custom audiences allow advertisers to target their ads to a specific set of users based on a previously owned list of phone numbers or email addresses. Basically, Facebook matches these email addresses and/or phone numbers with Facebook user IDs and encrypted data to build an audience that’s completely your own.
  9. Lookalike Audiences: When you create a custom audience list, you can also create a “lookalike audience” that includes people who are similar to your custom audience list. This way you’re reaching people who have the same interests and demographic information as your custom audience, but that you have not established a connection with just yet.

Facebook Advertising – Premium Ads & the new Timeline


Facebook Timeline is now mandatory for business pages, whether you like it or not! Prior to the switchover Facebook business pages you could produce a professional looking page with lots of options for fan engagement without a large budget.

With the new changes, though, Facebook business pages are definitely not as “small biz friendly.” The new format brought changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank, the look and functionality of business pages, as well as changes to their advertising options. There are now “premium” advertising options for the big guys – things like logout page ads, mobile ads, Facebook offer ads, even news feed ads!! The regular ads we’re used to will pale in comparison.

On top of this Facebook has also changed the amount of characters allowed in an ad to 90 characters so that they can fit more ads on the advertising panel. Meaning that not only will you have less space to get your message across but that you’ll also be competing with more ads. To compete, you’ll need to focus more on the image you post along with your ads – making it stand out from the rest.

So, what are the premium ad options?

1. News Feed Ads – Before this option, the only way an ad could make it to your News Feed was if one of your friends shared or liked the link. Now – businesses can pay for the News Feed placement of Featured or Sponsored Stories Ads regardless of the ad’s actual “Edgerank.” The ad will look like any other post in your feed, except for it will be tagged as “featured.” To the average user, this could be viewed as pretty intrusive, but it is a great opportunity for marketers to get some prime time impressions with their fans’ friends.

2. Logout Ads – I never log out of Facebook, but there are tons of people out there who do, actually around 37 million per day. Facebook is looking to capitalize on this by allowing big brands to purchase advertisements on the sign off page. But only one ad will show up on the sign off page at a time – one huge image for one huge impact. The thought is that these ads will convert more people because they are already ending their Facebook experience and are ready to jump to another site.

3. Mobile Ads – It’s happened. Facebook can’t help itself from serving ads to the 350 million active users who access Facebook via a mobile device. The mobile ads you purchase will appear in the News Feed, but no panel ads (the small screen prohibits side ads).

4. Offers – Premium accounts can now provide discounts and offers to their fans. Offers as easy to create as a status update and are super share-worthy. Combine an offer with a Sponsored Story ad and you’ve got a winning advertising campaign.

And the doozy….

5. Reach Generator – Brands can now pay to guarantee that at least 75% of their fans see a particular post (as opposed to the 16% an average post receives). This is good news for the big brands with deep pockets, but for smaller companies it’s out of the price range. Maybe in the coming months this option will be available at a more reasonable price, but for now it’s an advantage that the major players have over the little guys.

What’s the problem? All of these options sound awesome. The problem is multifaceted. First of all, consumers will be served more ads per day than they’re used to. Second, only certain businesses are allowed these features. The offers ads are great, but small businesses don’t have access to them. Nor do small business have access to News Feed ads.

Until there’s a different EdgeRank for underdogs – allowing their ads or posts to be revealed more often, big businesses are the ones who will be #winning with these new ad changes. One of the reasons so many smaller companies flocked to Facebook in the first place was the ease of use and low overhead it took to compete with their competitors – even the larger brands. Now – that is not so.

From a user’s perspective – yes, we will be receiving more ads then ever from companies. Fortunately, the ads that we’ll see will (or should) engage us more than ever.

What other implications do you see coming from the new ad changes?


WOMMA Webinar with Cara Friedman at Likeable Media

Mikal Belicove. How Facebook’s ‘Offers’ and ‘reach Generator’ Can Deliver More for Less. March 7, 2012.

Facebook Sponsored Stories & a Happy New Year


Do you know what a sponsored story even is? As a marketer or advertiser, you notice the small differences in the different ad forms and platforms. A banner ad on a website is soooo much different from a site takeover or a sponsored tweet. But do consumers even recognize a difference? At the end of the day aren’t all advertisements, well, advertisements?

It seems as though Facebook has graciously answered that question for us – absolutely not, and especially not if your approach to advertising is user-friendly. A few months ago, Facebook added Sponsored Stories to the ticker feature on everyone’s “home” page (for more info about the new ticker click here). The Inside Facebook blog noted that this transition was a smooth one without much backlash.

So it seems only natural that Facebook would move forward and start placing these Sponsored Stories in users’ News Feeds. But, what’s a Sponsored Story anyway and how is it going to affect my experience as a Facebook user & my experience as a marketer?

If you have friends on Facebook, you probably have friends who “Like” a few brands and interact with a them on Facebook. So, it’s likely that you’ve seen an update in your news feed from time to time about “Charles Gibson” (for instance) commenting on the ABC World News Page. But, honestly how often do you see those sorts of updates? Probably not that often, and if you do, you probably ignore it.

Formerly, Sponsored Story ads were there to insure that some of these stories actually did show up as ads on the right hand side of your page. There’s an example of one of these ads on the right.

Starting in January, though, those ads will begin to surface in your news feed, looking something like this:

This might seem like a pretty lame way for Facebook to start out 2012, but there are some redeeming qualities for users. First, at least in the beginning, you’ll only ever see one sponsored story ad per day. Second, all Sponsored Stories will be marked as “sponsored,” and Facebook is smartly rolling out the program slowly to all of its more than 800 million active users.

Plus – think about it. It’s not a regular advertisement – it’s something your “friend” has already done or said. And in that sense, it could be engaging. The ads could be created around one of your friends liking Lady Gaga, checking-in to the Brooklyn Museum, or using Spotify – among other types of status updates. At least it’s not one of those random ads that you can’t relate to, right?

And for advertisers – this is going to be the help we need to continue to acquire more interaction among our followers and potential followers. The new Timeline feature has decreased the frequency and likelihood that your regular posts on Facebook will make it to your “fans” news feeds. Which means that brand pages must provide even more relevant content in order to successfully make it into a “Likers” news feed. This new Sponsored Story option gives advertisers a way to combat this. Now a brand might have a chance to make it into someone’s feed, without fighting Facebook’s unknown algorithm.

There are a few problems, though. First, you won’t be able to buy placement only in the news feed for Sponsored Stories. You’ll have to buy into them and cross your fingers that it ends up in the news feed. Facebook also hasn’t provided any pricing information just yet either.

It seems Facebook is playing a game of chess with us marketers and, so far, they’re coming out on top. eMarketer estimates that the addition of Sponsored Stories this year alone has increased Facebook’s global ad revenue in 2011 by 104.3 percent over 2010.

What do you think about Sponsored Stories? Yay or nay?

Facebook Timeline – finally here!


The Facebook Timeline is finally unrolling for everyone to enjoy – or not enjoy as the case may be. If you’re looking for some help setting up your timeline and learning about the new interface, you’ve come to right spot.

A few months ago, I did a three-part series introducing the timeline, subscriptions, and apps. Here are links to those posts:

Part 1: Introduction to the new timeline layout
This post goes into detail about the new look and feel of the timeline. Remember, you get a chance to go through all your posts and delete, or change privacy settings before publishing your new timeline. This is an important step towards making sure your timeline is just how you want it to be for the public and for your friends.

Part 2: Subscriptions
These have been around for a while now, so you should be very familiar with them. Be aware that when you de-friend someone, they automatically become one of your subscribers, so make sure your subscription settings are set up the way you’d like them to be.

Part 3: Entertainment zone & open graph apps
Some of the new open graphs applications are pretty cool. Others think they’re a bit creepy.

For a more visual and easier presentation about the new Facebook Timeline check out my Slideshow about the new Facebook timeline. This gets a little more into detail about the implications of this new timeline for brands.

Facebook Timeline and New Apps screen shot

New Facebook Part 3: Entertainment Zone



Raise your hand if you stream via Netflix, listen to music on Spotify, or read the Washington Post. Now, raise your hand if you’re busy. Facebook’s new streaming apps are going to give you one central access location for all of your favorite entertainment services.

According to Zuckerberg, “We are making it so you can connect to anything you want. Now you don’t have to like a book, you can just read a book. You don’t have to like a movie; you can just watch a movie.”

Facebook is positioning itself as a destination, where users can record their own history via the new Timeline, share with their friends via the Open Graph, and now users can watch films, listen to music, and read newspapers without leaving the site.

Clearly, Facebook wants us to stay on the site for as long as possible – the longer we stay, the more ads we can click on! Also, Facebook will be capturing vital information about what movies or tv shows its users are discussing, creating a huge opportunity for services like Hulu and Netflix.

But, Zuckerberg has been pretty clear that the goal of the site is to be a “distribution platform” to other media companies and that these apps will help users stay more closely connected to their friends. Once users have opted in to open graph, these new apps will be able to automatically share activity such as viewing, listening and reading in the new “ticker” stream to the right. Now, without ever leaving Facebook, I can listen to what my friend is listening to or cook something my friend is cooking.

So, what are the apps you can look forward to?

  1. Spotify: If you’re not familiar with this, it’s a free music streaming company much like Pandora. With the new app, you can see what your friends are listening to, and hit play to hear their tracks instantly. So let’s introduce music to your social life.
  2. Foodily: This is one of my favorite recipe search engines. Their app gives you a dedicated, real-time feed of the recipes your friends save on the site and allows you to see your friends’ recipe boxes. When you save a recipe, the friend who initially shared the dish is notified.
  3. Kobo: I hadn’t heard of Kobo until the Open Graph (I guess this just shows you the power of the new tool). Kobo is a Borders-backed company that was the first of the major e-readers to add a social element to reading. This app will point out of two friends are reading the same book or post interesting facts about a reader’s activity on his or her wall.
  4. Washington Post: The Washington Post and the Daily, News Corp.’s national digital publication are pioneers for social news and will allow readers to instantly share the stories they find interesting with their friends. I assume many publications will follow.
  5. Netflix: Netflix said subscribers outside the United States will be able to share what they’re watching with friends on Facebook. Now it will be easier to find new television series or movies. Unfortunately the Netflix app won’t be available for the US, because of privacy laws around movie rentals. But, I’m sure another company will figure this out.
  6. Nike+: Facebook is also rolling out “lifestyle” apps that let users share routes they are running, or going to events (Eventbrite). The Nike+ app can show your running route to friends.

New Facebook – Part 2: Subscriptions


Do you remember your first subscription? I’m pretty sure mine was either Highlights or National Geographic Magazines. Fast forward about twenty years. Now I’ve got subscriptions to my google reader and to the digital versions of Food + Wine Magazine. As of last week, we no longer just have the ability to subscribe to published works. Now we can subscribe to people’s status updates too.

Facebook is responding to the praised privacy controls that Google+ has employed by allowing you to have greater control over who gets access to your updates as well as more control over what updates make it to your feed.

With the new subscribe button you have the ability to curate what types of updates you see from each of your friends and how often you see them. According to Facebook’s blog you can chose: All updates (everything your friend posts), Most updates (the amount you’d normally see), or Important updates only (just highlights like a new job or move).

Not only can you chose how often their updates make it to your feed, but you can chose which of their updates you see. Maybe you really don’t want to know that one of your friends just played Farmville and you only want to know when they post pictures. You have the control. These settings are going to be even more important as more “open graph” apps are available and you’ll be updated on what music or movies your friends are listening to or watching.

You also have the ability to subscribe to people who you’re not necessarily friends with so that their updates show up in your feed. This means you could subscribe to celebrities, journalists, political figures or “interesting people” as Facebook calls them.  Do remember, though, that everyone has control over which updates are shared to the public, to their friends etc. If your status update is public, your friends and your subscribers will have access to it. Conversely, you might have friends who you don’t subscribe to so that you don’t see any of their updates.



Now that the subscribe button has been out for a little while, how do you think it will change your interactions on Facebook?

Click here for Part 1: Timeline format








Hello, Facebook. Nice to meet you. – Part 1


Have you heard that song by Social Distortion “Story of My Life”?  I’m super excited about the new facebook (rolling out for everyone on Oct. 4). Why am I so stoked? Well, in brief, the new layout of Facebook is going to tell the story of our lives. “Life goes by so fast” don’t you want an easy way to connect with what has happened over the years in a really beautiful format? I know I do. I wanted to introduce the new changes to you in a three week series. Here are the topics, starting with the new timeline format:

  1. Timeline and “Open graph”
  2. Subscriptions (which you’re probably already familiar with)
  3. Entertainment

I’ve already signed up for the new changes so that I can tell you all about it (if you want to start playing with your new facebook profile too, click here). Basically your entire life on facebook will be in a timeline format. All of your photos, updates and experiences with apps will be shared on it in chronological order.

Experiences with apps?

You’ve probably heard the buzz about Facebook’s recent Spotify acquisition. Basically, they will have new “open graph” apps for gaming, movie streaming, music streaming, etc. Every interaction you have these apps will become updates on your new profile. This means that all of your friends will see what you’re currently listening to, playing, or watching. This sharing is extremely passive, so you should be careful which apps you authorize, because once you add them to your timeline, you don’t have to explicitly give it permission to add stuff to your feed, it happens automatically.

More importantly, what does it look like?

1. You’ll get to choose the “central” photo, which spans the entirety of the screen. Gone are the days of the small box in the left-hand corner.

Facebook's new Central Photo

2. Links to see all of your friends, photos, maps, Likes, apps etc. will be just beneath this photo.

Links to your Apps, Likes, Friends, Maps will be below your central picture3. To the extreme right will be an aggregate timeline with years to help you and your friends navigate your timeline.

Links to each year you've been on Facebook are aggregated on the right side of your new Facebook profile

4. Below this will be your Facebook “activity log”.  This includes your latest updates, photo uploads, and top stories. You do have a little control over what’s featured most predominantly. You can click the star to expand a story, or you can click the pencil to hide a post. As you know, you’re able to decide who you want to share each update, photo, post with. You’ll be able to do the same with the new format. You can even add significant events to your timeline, like surgeries and graduations!

However, you might be concerned about posts from the past. Every entry has a drop down menu next to it that lets you filter who can see this item. If you don’t want to go back to the beginning, so to speak, you can manipulate this within your privacy settings. Simply make all previous posts private to your friends or whoever you chose.

Each story on your profile is editable so that you can change who it's shared with and hide/expand.

I really like this new feel, but there’s already been a lot of backlash. Look at this from Facebook’s perspective; they’re a business, they want you on Facebook all day long and they want data…data…data. Keep in mind you’ll be able to add things like when you broke a bone or hit a significant milestone. Think how much you’ll be giving them with this new timeline. This is GOLD for advertisers.

Click here for Part 2: Subscriptions.