While Google+ is looking to boost brand connections with consumers, the upper hand still goes to Facebook — which has unveiled a range of features to better connect its users with brands.
That includes a just-announced line-up of media-branded apps coming to Timeline through the social network’s open graph including Buzzfeed, CBS Local (Los Angeles and New York versions), CMT, Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, GetGlue, Huffington Post, Mashable, MSNBC.com, MTV News, Pixable, Sporting News, and MSNBC.
"There’s a referral traffic goldmine on Facebook," writes TechCrunch, "and 13 more news outlets are staking their claim… By automatically publishing stories back to the Facebook Ticker, Timeline, and News Feed, these apps will hope to score the same traffic boosts attained by The Washington Post, Yahoo, and Digg. However, they’ll also need to provide “mark as unread / unwatched” options to let users curate what they share.”
In other Facebook marketing news:
• Facebook is hosting fMC, an invite-only event, on February 29th in New York, with execs including Sheryl Sandberg talking up Timeline brand pages to marketers and agencies. Beginning with a handful of brands in beta, Ad Age reports that with branded Timelines, “tabs or apps marketers currently host on their Facebook pages to sell products or take polls may turn into boxes on the brand's Timeline, much like how apps for Spotify or Washington Post Social Reader live on users' Timelines." Additionally, "The format change could put the onus on brands to develop their own apps using custom verbs other than "like," in the same vein as Pinterest, which has a Facebook app that tracks when its users have "pinned" something. Promoting the use and development of "Open Graph" apps, which can have their data tapped for ad targeting, is an area of increased focus for Facebook.”
• Retail brands, meanwhile, aren't boosting sales via Facebook stores. Gamestop, Gap, JCPenney and Nordstrom "have all opened and closed storefronts on Facebook" in the past year, Bloomberg reports. Although FB "has sought to be a top shopping destination for its 845 million members, the stores’ quick failure shows that the Menlo Park, California-based social network doesn’t drive commerce and casts doubt on its value for retailers, said Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts."
• Facebook has rolled out account verification and pseudonyms for celebrities and others with notable personable brands and fan bases. Call it the Lady Gaga policy: celebs can submit a government-issued ID in order to register an "alternate name" to be displayed on their pages. As an additional CEP incentive, their names will pop higher in searches as well as appear more frequently in the "People To Subscribe To" suggested users feature. While Google+ and Twitter distinguish which celeb accounts are confirmed by displaying a checkmark next to the accountholder's name, this is not the case on Facebook, where verification is by invitation only.
• Facebook is poised to make $1.2 billion from mobile ads according to one analysis. The price of advertising on Facebook could double in July thanks to the summer Olympics. Here's an infographic showing countries ranked by (current) cost of Facebook advertising.
• Pixable, the photo-curation app with an install base of close to 1.5 million people on iPhones and 300,000 on iPads, now enables Facebook photos to be hashtagged a la Twitter, a feature of interest to users and brands. The app categorizes Facebook images and Twitter feeds into bins like “New Profile Pics,” “Top of the Day,” or “New on Twitter” where they can then be tagged on Facebook Timeline. “People are treating this more like a photo inbox. The photos that really matter come to you, you don’t have to go on a hunt,” Pixable co-founder Andres Blank told Mashable.