Facebook’s new developer offerings are a boon to social media optimization strategies, enabling Web publishers to quickly turn ordinary Web content into distributable social objects. At the heart of the strategy is transforming the “Fan” button utilized by brand and organization Facebook pages into the “Like” button. The benefits of this change to brands is obvious: Psychologically, simply “liking” a brand seems to require much less commitment than declaring oneself a fan, yet the brands still retain the primary benefit (pushing marketing messages into the user’s news feed).
The game-changing feature, however, is the new ability for Web publishers to add the Like button to virtually any piece of content on any Web property. For example, let’s imagine that you operate a music blog, and you’ve posted a video reviewing the new MGMT album. You also add the Like button to this video that is associated with a subcategory “MGMT” on your site. Anytime someone comes to your site who is also simultaneously logged into Facebook, that person can Like the video. When they do this, it will show up as an item in their news feed, enabling their friends to find your content from Facebook as well. In addition, using the new plugin, it’s possible to view anyone else in their network who has liked that content without even going to Facebook (they’ll be able to see it from your music blog).
Using our example, when important news about MGMT comes out again, you could push a message into the news feed of anyone who Liked the original video and potentially drive them back to your site. They would of course be able to unsubscribe to these messages, so it will be extremely important to stay 100% on message. In other words, this enables you to send users who Liked MGMT content only that content, as opposed to also sending them content about Bob Dylan, Brahams and Ke$ha.
This is a total revolution for both market segmentation and permission-based marketing. It’s difficult to imagine, two years from now, many Web marketers who would still prefer to manage dozens of targeted email lists when it’s possible to allow Facebook users to opt into an unlimited number of topics and digest them anywhere on the Web. This is a critical addition to the social media optimization toolkit.
While embracing these concepts is important, it’s important not to get too locked into any single piece of SMO strategy or functionality in the near term. Facebook will no doubt be making many adjustments and wholesale changes to these new tentacles as they essentially focus test these on its more than 400 million users and the thousands of Web publishers that will no doubt jump in with both feet right away.