Facebook's Open Graph to help brands engage consumers

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook's updated Open Graph platform, revealed yesterday at the f8 developer conference, will give brands opportunities to interact more easily with consumers on the social network.

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook's updated Open Graph platform, revealed yesterday at the f8 developer conference, will give brands opportunities to interact more easily with consumers on the social network, as well as to influence the way consumers interact with one another.

Open Graph, which will roll out to consumers in coming weeks, will allow companies to develop apps on Facebook to promote real-time sharing. It will also help brands communicate information with users that is tailored to their interests and those of their friends.

When combined with Facebook's “Timeline” feature, also unveiled at f8, the app will automatically update on a consumer's Timeline as it is used. Many brands, including Spotify, Hulu, Netflix, Nike, Airbnb, Foodspotting, Yahoo, USA Today, and IMDb, are already on board, despite the platform not rolling out widely to consumers for weeks.

Spotify's Facebook integration will allow the online music-streaming service to let users see what their friends are listening to through a new music dashboard. It will also allow them to click playable music posts that appear in their Facebook newsfeeds.

Angela Watts, VP of marketing and communications at Spotify, told PRWeek that the integration made sense because music is a highly social experience that frequently links friends. She added that social media offerings are crucial for media companies and brands of the future.

Spotify's Facebook-connected users listen to more music and create more playlists than its non-social members. Watts noted that the deeper integration will increase viral activity and visibility, while also creating more opportunities for brands to integrate ad campaigns on both Facebook and Spotify.

“Because they're social, they're more engaged,” said Daniel Ek, Spotify CEO, at the f8 keynote. “Because they're more engaged, they're more than twice as likely to pay for music. Social discovery on Facebook means that we're bringing people back to paying for music again. And that‘s how the brilliant artists who create this music can continue creating it for us to enjoy.”

Netflix is also using Open Graph, though due to legal issues the Facebook integration will only be available to consumers in Latin America and Canada until the issue can be resolved in the US.

Joris Evers, director of corporate communications at Netflix, said the company believes the integration will make the Netflix experience much more social, encourage discovery, and essentially act as a “conversation starter” among consumers.

“As the social space has evolved, it has become obvious that consumers want one big social space where they talk about everything they do,” said Evers. “So it made sense for us to link into Facebook.”

Netflix hopes that the integration will encourage people to talk more with their friends about what they are watching, beyond what existed when the company just had a Facebook page.

“This actual integration provides just another level, another way to really share the experience of Netflix,” Evers said. “And we think that is important.”

The update to Open Graph will also result in significant changes for Payvment, a Facebook-based commerce platform. Most significantly, the company will be able to give consumers “want” and “own” buttons, rather than just the traditional “like” button.

Christian Taylor, the company's founder and CEO, explained that in the past it was often difficult to tell just what a consumer was expressing by clicking the “like” button. For example, he said a “like” could mean that someone already owned a product, wanted a product, or just thought the product was fun, interesting, or quirky.

Now users' intentions will be more clear, and their “owns” and “wants” will populate lists on their Facebook timelines, which Payvment expects will further encourage engagement and sharing among consumers. For example, the “own” button will connect users and facilitate recommendations and conversations about products between those who own and those who are thinking of purchasing a product.

“With the ‘own' button, people can sort of quickly become experts in their field and we can connect Facebook users to those people if they have questions," said Taylor. “Now it becomes much more about getting your brand out there in people's own lists."

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