What Do Brand Managers Want From Facebook At F8?

From a consumer perspective, the possible introduction of a music dashboard and multiple streaming services at Facebook's f8 developers' conference Thursday has been top of mind. But what are brand managers hoping to see the social network introduce at the confab?

The possible introduction of a music dashboard and multiple streaming services at Facebook’s f8 developers’ conference Thursday has been top of mind — at least for consumers.

But what are brand managers hoping to see the social network introduce at the confab?

Blake Cahill, president of 65-person social media agency Banyan Branch, spoke with AllFacebook about marketing on Facebook in general and what those who do it for a living would like to see announced Thursday.

Cahill weighed in on the changes to the Facebook platform that were implemented Tuesday, saying, “It doesn’t seem that pages (for brands) will be affected in any major way, but businesses should still pay attention to what’s happening in user interface. Agencies like Banyan Branch have a responsibility to our clients to explain what these changes look like and what it could mean for brand pages in the future.”

As an example of how fluid the Facebook world is these days, here’s another take on the platform changes’ impact on small businesses, from a different agency, Skinny.

On marketing via the social network in general, Cahill said, “You have to come up with unique, engaging content literally daily or weekly to keep this community fed. The most successful brands that are doing things in the social platform recognize that.”

Cahill added, “When a brand’s Facebook page is integrated with an overall social and/or marketing strategy, it can be one of the most powerful tools to reach that brand’s goals, whether that’s driving traffic back to your website, increasing brand awareness, really engaging with customers, or possibly driving sales. Basically, don’t look at it as a stand-alone piece or return on investment.”

He continued, “What is the ratio of sharing to selling? You can’t just throw out a coupon every day, and when brands do that, people run away from it — 60, 70, 80 percent sharing to selling for most people.”

Cahill is a proponent of the use of attention-getting features such as voting contests and photo contests, saying, “When you launch some kind of digital asset that gets your community participating, they’re kind of like piranhas.”

Besides contests, he suggested events such as live chats featuring product managers, brand managers, stylists, or whatever is appropriate for the brand or product, saying that hundreds of people attend events of this sort, pulling in new people. A special offer afterward seals the deal, he added.

Turning to Thursday’s big event, here is some of what Cahill believes brand managers want to see out of f8:

  • Social commerce: “Brands would like to see social commerce enablement so that they can actually do more than just throw coupons out there –do photo sharing, do cause marketing. Connect all of this activity into a sales engine. Brands see 20 percent-30 percent higher sell-through ratios from cause marketing.”
  • Analytics: “We work with 35 different data-collection tools across the Net. Everyone is hoping for more return insight and management tools. Why doesn’t Facebook make its own Buddy Media killer for brands?”
  • Mobile: Cahill mentioned the Project Spartan initiative to bypass the App Store from Apple, adding that mobile and tablet access to Facebook is “through the roof,” and brand managers would like to see enhancements to the consumer experience on those platforms.

Finally, on features Facebook has launched and then pulled away from, like Places and Deals, Cahill said:

There is an inconsistency — they launch features and services, and then roll back from them. Other people are pulling it off and pulling it off really well. You would think there would be consumer fatigue with the amount of platforms, but people seem to like to participate on the different platforms, instead of all on one. I think the consumer views Facebook differently sometimes in terms of privacy and data, but then they’ll go and share tons of information on the next platform.

Readers: What would you like to see introduced at f8 tomorrow?

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.