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Facebook Changes: June 2013

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Facebook has made considerable changes recently to its platform that affects how brands and consumers use the social network in May/June 2013. The introduction of Verified Pages and hashtags, the phasing out of Sponsored Stories and introduction of new Insights are important developments to understand in the scope of brands’ overall digital and social strategies.

Moreover, Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, has introduced video functionality. This POV contains an overview of the latest developments and considerations for brands and marketers.

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Facebook Changes: June 2013

  1. 1. POV: Facebook Changes June 2013Introducing Hashtags, the end of Sponsored Stories, photos in comments,Verified Pages, Instagram Video, and new Facebook InsightsJune 2013 By: Matt Kelly, Claire Lekwa, Dhara Naik, Meghan McMahon, Brian Camen,Eric Munn, Mac Cullen, Yianni Konstantopoulos, Kate Donahue
  2. 2. Facebook POV June 2013 2Executive SummaryFacebook has made considerable changes recently to its platform that affects how brands andconsumers use the social network in May/June 2013. The introduction of Verified Pages andhashtags, the phasing out of Sponsored Stories and introduction of new Insights are importantdevelopments to understand in the scope of brands’ overall digital and social strategies.Moreover, Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, has introduced videofunctionality. This POV contains an overview of the latest developments and considerations forbrands and marketers.Table of ContentsIntroducing Facebook HashtagsEnding Sponsored StoriesPhotos in CommentsVerified PagesInstagram VideoNew Facebook Insights37891113
  3. 3. Facebook POV June 2013 3Introducing Facebook HashtagsOn June 12, Facebook announced all users would soon be able to use hashtags, a functionalitymade popular by Twitter. This will allow users, including brands, to include an interactivehashtagged phrase in their status updates and comments. Clicking on the hashtag (or searchingfor them via Facebook’s search functionality) will lead users to a page featuring real-time content.At only a week post-launch, we at Social@Ogilvy have already noticed many of our brands’constituents are already using the functionality.How Do Hashtags Work on Facebook?Facebook hashtags allow users to tag their posts or comments with an interactive link. Thiswill make a broader base of content more easily discoverable than ever before.What can they do?Users may create hashtagged content and discover othersusers’ hashtags through search. The functionality also extendsto other linked sites with hashtag capability, like Instagram andTwitter.What can’t they do?Currently, the product is limited to posts, commentsand basic search. Unlike hashtags on Twitter, forexample, users cannot simply scan the sidebar forthe top trending hashtags in real-time and can onlysee hashtags that belong to friends or are madepublic. As of this writing, there is also not a paidoffering in place to support the product (but that isexpected soon).
  4. 4. Facebook POV June 2013 4Implications for BrandsContentFacebook hashtags allow brands new opportunities to extend reach and show real-time relevancewith content on the world’s largest social network. They represent Facebook’s new focus onproviding brands with better ways to discover real-time public conversations. The companyannounced that trending hashtags and new insights are also expected to roll out, which will helpmarketers maximize the potential of this new feature.Brands should begin strategically testing Facebook hashtags now in concert with their currentapproach on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr. As more Facebook users receive thehashtag feature, any tagged content will become more visible. Brands should identify key hashtagsto incorporate into content, such as brand/product names, current campaigns, and industry topicsand trends. Monitoring these key Facebook hashtags will also help surface other relevant contentfor brands to share, especially for event activation strategies.In addition, any hashtags from posts pulled in to Facebook from other linked platforms, such asTwitter or Instagram, will populate automatically. Brands may now consider cross-promotionopportunities from syncing select posts to promote contests, campaigns or events.With Facebook hashtags, a real-time content strategy will be an even larger priority for brands. Askey events and news cycles now become more easily searchable, brands have significantopportunity to swiftly engage in these conversations with Facebook’s wide audience (think surpriseand delight). Brands that produce nimble, real-time content will reap the benefit of earnedrelevance.CommunityBecause of Facebook’s popularity, many brands use the platform as a hub for social mediainteraction. As hashtags are adopted en masse, skilled community managers must be prepared. Inthe product’s current state, this means searching for ways to engage creatively with Fans inthreads, directing them to relevant hashtags where applicable and searching for hashtags peopleare using about your brand. Though listening for opportunities beyond post threads is a manualprocess at this time, excellent community managers will include the step in their workflow toprovide valuable insights that inform content and overall strategy.Furthermore, upcoming developments in hashtags could affect community management. If theplatform allows users to view “trending” hashtags, it will shift the conversation for brands – evenwithin threads about unrelated topics. Brands using the product in an honest, authentic, andrespectful way will potentially reach a new audience. Community, analytics and content specialistsmust work together as they do on other platforms to ensure a holistic approach to executing thistactic.AdvertisingFacebook representatives have stressed that hashtags and other upcoming products serve brands’overall business objectives. This should come as no surprise to brands, as the company has taken
  5. 5. Facebook POV June 2013 5several steps within the past year to introduce a more streamlined advertising offering. Currently,Facebook has not announced plans for advertising based on hashtags. Privacy settings affecthashtag results, so only public posts are seen, meaning the reach may not be as large as brandslooking to shell out large budgets would like.Brands will be able to promote content that contains hashtags, however. And hashtags used onalternative linked platforms will be clickable and searchable on Facebook. Weigh the benefit ofearly adoption against the time spent managing your community’s reaction about the product.Because users are already filling their posts with hashtags, brands likely won’t stick out too muchby adding them now.SearchFacebook hashtags now allow people to consume more of the content they like, when they want it.The new hashtag feature means Facebook users are able to search for the content they’re mostinterested in, a lot faster. Users are able to see relevant and interesting brand content withoutleaving the platform (even though it’s not available via mobile as of this writing).Brands have the opportunity to build a more relevant community on their page. Those who aremost likely to be interested in a brand’s content are looking to engage in dialogue related to thehashtag topic. Additionally, brands are also now able to participate in real-time conversations byusing relevant hashtags. However, it is important to consider developing a comprehensive hashtagstrategy to ensure your brand is participating in relevant conversations and not simply usinghashtags to expand the reach of your content.PrivacyJust like when Graph Search was introduced a few months back, it will be important for usersconcerned about the privacy of their posts to examine their settings, especially if they’ve included ahashtag. As it did before, directly beneath any status or update there exists a small toggle thatallows you to select who sees your content (friends, friends of friends, the public, restricted, etc.)While public posts have always appeared to anyone on Facebook, there has NOT been a simpleway to find them until hashtags were introduced. Now, in an effort to be an even greater player inthe real-time conversation space, it will be very easy for content to be aggregated. For example, apublic post like “Wow, that was a great episode of #Trueblood” will appear to anyone who issearching for #Trueblood on Facebook, not just someone who happened upon your personalprofile.FAQsHow do hashtags coincide with Graph Search?Previously Graph Search allowed users to search for people, places and things by entering akeyword. Graph Search allowed Facebook users to search for which of their friends have specificlikes/interests and other segmentation opportunities. With the introduction of hashtags, users can
  6. 6. Facebook POV June 2013 6now simply enter a hashtag related to a particular topic in the search bar at the top of their NewsFeed and take a look at relevant content.How will privacy settings affect the content that I am able to see for a particular hashtag?Currently, when you click on a hashtag in your News Feed or type a hashtag in the search field,you are only able to see content that is made public by an individual user as well as public brandpage content.How can I advertise using hashtags?Brands will be able to promote content that contains, hashtags, however promoted hashtags arenot available for purchase at this time. This is expected to change as the product develops.If I am already using hashtags on another platform, can I sync my content with the samehashtag on Facebook?If you’re currently using a hashtag on any linked third-party platform (such as Twitter or Instagram)it will populate on Facebook automatically. Users tend to adopt official hashtags from otherplatforms for use on Facebook and we believe this trend will continue.What about privacy?For Facebook users who want to remain extra vigilant about who sees your posts, you should setyour default settings (in the settings menu) to only your friends.What happens to really old posts, or posts that were also posted in Twitter?According to Facebook, once it “turns on” the hashtag grouping functionality, it will automaticallymake hashtags from earlier posts clickable. So, it may be a good idea to go back into your timelineand ensure that you do (or don’t) want your hashtagged content to be widely searchable to anyone.
  7. 7. Facebook POV June 2013 7Ending Sponsored StoriesAs part of an effort from Facebook to provide a more integrated and streamlined advertisingoffering (as based on feedback from Marketers), Facebook recently announced they are reducingthe number of ad units from 27 to less than 14 beginning in July.This slim-down of Facebook’s ad options includes the removal of Sponsored Stories. These adunits were generated in a users newsfeed because of an interaction that user’s Facebook friendhad with a brand’s post.While Sponsored Stories will be removed, some elements of the ad unit may be available throughother ad offerings. No need to be upset by this removal as Facebook plans to make their ad unitofferings have a more consistent look and feel. This will make the ad creation process simpler foradvertisers who are running multiple campaigns and taking a test and learn approach.Implications for BrandsLooking to advertise on Facebook? Brands will still be able to utilize Like ads, Promoted Pageposts and a number of individual smaller ad unit offerings from Facebook. Here’s a look at howprevious ad units were combined. The result is the following new look ad unit that includes socialcontext.
  8. 8. Facebook POV June 2013 8Photos in CommentsFacebook is continuing to evolve their engagement offerings. Recently, the social networking siteannounced that users will be able to view comment threads by engagement or recent activity.Additionally, Facebook users will be able to attach photos to comments.Having the ability to view comment threads by engagement could resonate with Brand Page usersin a positive or negative way depending on Fan’s reactions. Fans who view comment threads byengagement may only choose to read the top 1 - 2 comments and choose to simply conform tothose comments. Depending on what the comments states, this could have a positive or negativeresult for the brand.Implications for BrandsThe new functionality that allows users to comment on posts using photos (JPEG or PNG imagefiles) is a benefit for brands. Previously, users could only link to images in a comment. Users will beable to comment with a photo right in the comment stream as a reply to a brand’s status update.This new functionality benefits brands as it will lead to an increase in user-generated content in theform of photos. Users should also expect to see an increased amount of photos in their newsfeed.
  9. 9. Facebook POV June 2013 9Verified PagesFacebook announced in May that it began verifying select Facebook pages and public profiles.Like the verification system on Twitter (a blue checkmark), Facebook verification allows high profilecelebrities, public figures, and brands to stake their true claim to their online profiles.Additionally, users can more easily find authentic accounts for the top people and businesses theywish to follow. In Facebook’s words: “Verified Pages belong to a small group of prominent publicfigures (celebrities, journalists, government officials, popular brands, and businesses) with largeaudiences.”Currently, public figures and brands cannot ask to be verified. The Facebook team proactivelyverifies select profiles and pages.What Does Verification Look Like?Blue Circle CheckmarkThe verification icon looks strikingly similar tothe verification icon on Twitter. It’s a circlecheckmark directly next to the profile name.Within page posts, the verification icon will bevisible when hovering over the page name.Your Brand’s CategoryAs this new feature continues to roll out,brands should continue to monitor to see iftheir competitors are receiving verification.This could prove to be a competitiveadvantage as users associate the verifiedstatus with trust, credibility and -- ultimately --authority in a category.
  10. 10. Facebook POV June 2013 10Verification in SearchWhen searching for a brand in Facebook, the bluecheckmark appears for verified pages. This will makeit easier for users to identify the official brand pageswithin search results.Implications for BrandsBeyond having the blue checkmark appear on your brand’s page and next to posts that appear inuser timelines, there are no immediate effects of having a brand page verified. Still, there may be afew key considerations for brands attempting to bolster their online presences.SearchFacebook users often find brand pages via the search function. Having a verified profile allowusers to spot authentic profiles when unaffiliated fan pages or parody accounts may exist.This will help brand social teams combat parody accounts from diverting a user’s attention.ContentWhen verified profiles post content to Facebook, the verified icon will appear in user timelineswhen hovering over the page name – but not directly in the news feed. Having a verified profilemay help brand content further resonate with users (i.e. seeing the blue checkmark verifies that thecontent is authentic and credible). If Facebook ultimately allows the checkmark to show up in thenews feed, this will become even more valuable for brands.CredibilityAs a brand’s digital audience grows, it has the opportunity to bolster the credibility it has with thepublic. Having a Facebook verified brand signals to online users that the brand has a prominentdigital presence, and these pages may increasingly be seen as legitimate locations where thepublic can get relevant content and updates.OpportunityMoreover, this may reveal an opportunity for a unified and credible look-and-feel when cross-promoting content for brands with multiple Facebook pages. As this becomes recognized as theofficial seal of credibility on Facebook, consumers may only engage with pages that have achievedverified status.The rollout process is ongoing and there is currently no mechanism for requesting verification.Facebook will proactively reach out to verify accounts. Until then, continue to monitor parodyaccounts and community/interest pages.
  11. 11. Facebook POV June 2013 11Instagram VideoInstagram, the photo-sharing app that was purchased by Facebook, announced they are enteringthe video arena. They mentioned via their blog that users can now start recording 15-secondvideos within the app. Users will need to make sure they are using version 4.0 of the app which isavailable in both the App Store and Google Play. When a user goes to take a picture withInstagram they’ll now have an option to click on a movie camera icon. Clicking this icon will allowthe user to record a video and upload to Instagram and any other connected social accounts likeFacebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.Similar to taking photos with Instagram, a user can also add a filter to the video and change thelighting and color. Also similar to taking photos in Instagram, a user can review their video beforeposting it live. Previously recorded videos cannot be uploaded to the app and there is currently noability to tag people/brands in a video. One of the most interesting features is a Cinema functionthat will stabilize videos that may be shaky due to being filmed via a mobile device. Watch anoverview here.Implications for BrandsThe use of videos in Instagram allows your brand a new way to present ideas and stories to yourcustomers and fans. If you already have an Instagram account, it’s a simple way to start recordingshort films and get them out to an active audience. The length of 15 seconds is also longer thanthe current 6 seconds offered by Vine. This allows your brand some extra time to make sure yourmessage is received. You can check out a full comparison between Instagram and Vine here.
  12. 12. Facebook POV June 2013 12The Vine question: It remains to be seen how Vine will perform in the market in light of Instagram’supdate. Since launching, Vine has developed a modest audience of creative, quirky microfilmmakers (We implore you to check out Will Sasso’s videos) who may prefer Vine’s scrappy, on-the-go video sharing to Instagram’s more polished clips. But Instagram has a young, devoted, andhighly engaged community that can now create and consume video content without leaving theapp or recreating their social graph on another service.In less than six months, Vine has grown to more than 13 million users. But its tight integration withTwitter — videos automatically display and play through Twitter Cards — means that Vines havethe potential to reach Twitter’s audience of 200 million monthly active users. Still, Instagram letsusers share photos and videos to Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Tumblr, and Twitter, while Vineonly shares to Twitter and Facebook. Time will tell if Instagram videos will be as impactful as Vine
  13. 13. Facebook POV June 2013 13Facebook Insights ChangesFacebook recently announced changes to Page Insights, helping businesses gather more of thefacts and data that they care about. The global changes focus on improvements to the way keymetrics are organized and displayed.Overall, the changes are incremental and largely organizational. They don’t offer new data ormetrics, but make the key metrics easier to find and report within the insights dashboard. Thesechanges include:Simplified MetricsPeople Talking About This (PTAT)The PTAT metric will no longer be available. Instead, it will be broken down into its componentmetrics that will be reported separately. These metrics will now be Page Likes, People Engaged(number of unique individuals that have clicked on, liked, commented on or shared a post), Pagetags, mentions, Page check-ins. PTAT will continue to be available for Page owners that do nothave the new Insights preview. These metrics are currently available, but not displayed by default.ViralityAdditionally, the current virality metric will now include post clicks to provide a stronger indication ofpositive post engagement. Furthermore, ‘virality’ will be renamed to ‘engagement rate’ toaccommodate changes to the metric. Page owners may see increased average virality if their postsinclude links that are driving clicks.Better ContentPerformance AnalysisCurrently, post specificcontent is based onperformance, reach andengagement, which arefound in three differentareas of Page Insights. Inthe new format, all of themetrics will be aggregatedinto a post-specificscorecard so thatmarketers can evaluatepositive and negativemetrics in one place.
  14. 14. Facebook POV June 2013 14This will allow branded page owners to effectively evaluate their content performance and makenecessary optimizations a lot more quickly. This will enable Brands to publish better content with agreater impact.Demographic Breakdown by EngagementBecause the PTAT is being replaced by the People Engaged metric, this change will also bereflected in the demographic data available. Page Insights will allow Page admins to see moredemographic data in one place.
  15. 15. Facebook POV June 2013 15Implications for BrandsFor large brands that already have a thorough process for analyzing the data provided byFacebook insights as well as other analytics tools, this will not make a big difference in how theymeasure content performance.For lighter users, who rely heavily on the insights dashboard, this will have more of an effect. Pageadmins who are invited to use the new Insights will be notified within the Insights tool interface. Thefull Page Insights will be rolling out to all Page owners by the end of the summer.About Social@OgilvySocial@Ogilvy is the largest social media marketing communications network in the world. Named2011 Global Digital/Social Consultancy of the Year by The Holmes Report, the practice leveragessocial media expertise across all Ogilvy & Mather disciplines, offering an extensive list of serviceswithin the foundational business solutions – Listening and Analytics; Social Business Solutions;Social Media Marketing and Communications; Social Shopping; Social CRM; Social Care; andConversation Impact.For more information, visit and connect with us at, and on Twitter @SocialOgilvy
  16. 16. Facebook POV June 2013 16
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Facebook has made considerable changes recently to its platform that affects how brands and consumers use the social network in May/June 2013. The introduction of Verified Pages and hashtags, the phasing out of Sponsored Stories and introduction of new Insights are important developments to understand in the scope of brands’ overall digital and social strategies. Moreover, Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, has introduced video functionality. This POV contains an overview of the latest developments and considerations for brands and marketers.


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