At Facebook's Madison Avenue offices in New York City, conference rooms and meeting areas are named for legendary ad slogans ("L’eggo my Eggo," Wendy’s "Where’s the Beef?") and viral infomercials that resulted in hit products (Shake Weight, Snuggie). The shtick is common practice at most tech companies and start-ups—but at Facebook, the message is intentional: Brands are big at Facebook. And soon, they’ll be arriving on two of Facebook’s most popular products: Timeline and and the Open Graph.
Many believe these products are key for advertisers to reach the social network’s 800 million users effectively. We’ve seen mockups for brands like Burberry and Coca-Cola; we’ve imagined potential downsides of the medium; and we’ve seen at least one real-world example in the wild—an anti-drug PSA from Israel’s McCann Digital. But it’s all been speculative—until now.
"There’s a lot of speculation [about Timeline]," says Carolyn Everson, VP of global marketing solutions at Facebook. "The goal has always been to have your personal experience on Facebook not be so different than the brand or page experience. And right now, it is different. You have Timeline and you have a page-brand profile. So we are absolutely moving in the direction to sync those up. We believe that brands want to be able to curate how they’re represented in a more visually pleasing way, and we’re in the midst of trying to figure out how best to do that."
As for the Open Graph, the platform that has enabled third parties such as Spotify and Netflix to create apps on top of Facebook’s network, Everson says the company is still in the early stages of bringing brands on board. "We don’t want a mad rush to have every brand suddenly think that the next thing we have to do is an Open Graph implementation," she explains. "Because then you put stuff out there that people don’t care about, and that they don’t really share, and they turn it off."
A Facebook spokesperson brands are already working to integrate with the product experiences. Ticketmaster, for example, is building a Timeline app; only last week, it launched an Open Graph app that enabled users to share which concerts and events they plan on attending with friends. "We’re just getting started with Open Graph and are focused on working with developers and brands to build good Timeline app experiences for users," the Facebook spokesperson says. "New apps are rolling out slowly, with an emphasis on the types of apps that help people express themselves on their Timeline. Brands should focus on building apps that fit people’s lifestyles, such as appealing to their love of fashion, travel, fitness, or cooking. More apps will launch over time, so there will be something for everyone. There’s a big opportunity for brands to create new categories of lifestyle apps, and we look forward to seeing new verticals become more social."
Everson is especially excited about two branding opportunities: philanthropy and wish lists. She imagines users would like to share what they "care about" on the Open Graph. She also imagines people may want to share wish lists on Facebook. "That’s not to look like, 'I want, I want, I want,'" Everson clarifies. "But there are wish lists—for Christmas, birthdays, wedding registries—that could be very interesting in terms of sharing."
But right now, the Facebook team is focused on exploring the best ways to incorporate brands with its products.
"We’re working brand by brand," Everson says, "and frankly, industry by industry."