As Facebook's concept of the "social graph" continues to evolve, it presents new opportunities for content marketing on Facebook.
For example, content marketers may now use the website link campaigns to link the power of the social graph with driving engagement to branded content.
Moreover, instead of running display ads on Facebook, you can now develop an engaging article on a responsive design website and drive relevant audience traffic to your branded content. In using this approach, you'll see extremely high levels of content engagement, with users spending an average of over four minutes on each article.
Also, Facebook has developed sophisticated ways of tracking, targeting, and linking a more extensive array of online relationships—instead of just showing the connections between people as a social network.
The Facebook social graph is giving brands visibility and access into users' online lives—social connections, activities, and interests—with a cohesive web that adds value for users and marketers. With the tools and data analysis available from the social graph, Facebook users can get faster and more efficient access to content that interests them, and advertisers can target their messages more precisely to reach consumers most likely to be interested.
There are several reasons why Facebook's social graph is opening up new opportunities for brands and marketers.
Better Targeting Precision for Content Marketing
Facebook has already been popular with marketers for its highly targeted Facebook ads, where advertisers can reach audiences based on users' own interests and demographic data collected by Facebook. The social graph enables content marketing to become more localized, more customized, and more responsive to day-to-day changes in the audience's preferences.
Many platforms other than Facebook allow targeting by geography, gender, age, and languages. However, the key differentiation of Facebook targeting is the combination of precise interests and behavior targeting.
The ability to target interests and behaviors allows marketers to drive much higher levels of user engagement and higher levels of click-through rates. Traditional online display ads have click-through rates of less than 1%, but targeted Facebook campaigns are capable of driving click-through rates above 5%.
Content Marketing Creates Social Objects
One of the common refrains of content marketing is that "brands are becoming publishers." With the evolution of the social graph, you could just as easily say, "Brands are becoming people."
That's because Facebook's social graph treats brands and Facebook pages—and even individual pieces of shareable content—as "social objects." Everything your brand says on Facebook can be "liked" by Facebook users, shared with new audiences, and become a point of connection for new branches of your own brand's social graph.
With the social graph, there is increasingly no difference between user-generated content (Facebook updates, photos, personal YouTube videos, or Vines, etc.) and brand-generated content (white papers, blog articles, viral videos, etc.). Your brand can become "real" and important to your audience in the same way as your audience's Facebook friends who are real people that they've never met in person.
The social graph is connecting people to more of the brands, experiences, and social objects that they care about—and the smart brands will find a way to capitalize by engaging with more personal content marketing. Brands that focus on developing and producing engaging content will be rewarded with higher levels of engagement and earned media uplift (people willing to share branded content with their friends and family network).
Understanding the Social Graph Helps Create Better Content
The social graph provides numerous opportunities to help companies create better content. Using the combination of precise interests and behavior targeting, brands can have a better understanding of what types of content their audience wants to see. You can learn more about what other interests your audience has in common (even if those interests are not directly related to your brand).
For example, Heineken has seen an increase in "likes" on its Facebook page from 5 million in 2011 to over 15 million in 2013, and it has achieved strong engagement from its audience by posting quizzes and games related to Heineken's soccer sponsorships.
Instead of using content marketing to talk about its own products and its own industry, Heineken is generating significant social media activity by becoming a hub of interaction for one of its audience's related interests—soccer.
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The social graph continues to evolve and improve, creating a more responsive and better-informed social web for brands and consumers. Ideally, marketers will learn how to use the social graph to talk to the audiences most interested in what they have to offer. We're likely going to see better targeting, more customized content, and a bigger variety of ways of interacting with audiences based on interests and mutual connections.
With the social graph, content marketing will become more personal, more complex, and more real.