Thursday the bomb was dropped at f8 that Facebook is going to be ditching the Like in favor of user actions and passive updates, meaning that when you engage with apps and have the “Add to Timeline” feature enabled it will automatically update your Timeline with what you’re doing (for an example of this, check out the Washington Post Social app). It’s mildly reminiscent of the auto-checkin app for Foursquare, and of course the “please rob me” site that followed, however this latest change is not only a strong push for brands to do more on Facebook than create pithy status updates to get noticed, but should be a huge wake up call for the marketing industry as to where the budgets will be going.
Of course Facebook still wants your advertising dollars – that part of the equation will never change. But in addition to the ad spend what they really want is for companies to create useful apps that connect with consumers lives. This means going beyond passively clicking on a Like button for a status update or brand and creating something that provides value.
It’s a notion that a lot of brands entrenched in old school communications (“People will really care about this advertisement/press release/status update!”) are going to struggle mightily with. This new move takes the brainstorming process of looking at what’s already worked within an industry, reinventing the wheel and launching it and completely smashes it. Will brands still need to generate good content? Absolutely. But the firms they’re working with aren’t designed — nor are they staffed — to deliver interesting, sharable content.
As someone counseling senior leaders, I can already see traditional PR firms roles being minimized in social media while digital firms have their responsibility grow because, quite frankly, they have the developers and understand metrics and how the technology works. Sure, the communications professional can draft the language, but the clickthrough rates, time spent on a site and conversions are not terms, let alone digital marketing concepts, that PR firms have incorporated into their daily routines or vernacular. It’s why the Huffington Post succeeded while other sites die – they know what makes people click and study the hell out of their site traffic.
It’s an app, app, app, app world, folks, and as a CEO recently told me: “I’d rather put my money into digital marketing and social media because quite honestly press releases and stunts won’t help me sell cases.”