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What Do Facebook's Changes Mean for PR Strategy?
By: Elizabeth Friedland
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We may not know (yet) what the new Fan Pages will look like, but we’ve had a few weeks now to settle into the broader changes that have come to Facebook. What do these changes mean for PR strategy?
 
Shift focus away from fan procurement.
Brands used to think of their Facebook Fan Page as a numbers game; entire brainstorming sessions were spent developing ways to get a user to hit the all-important “Like” button, with success measured solely by number of fans acquired.

While growing a loyal fan base is still an important strategy, Facebook’s new open graph buttons, ticker, and timeline features make the sole action of “liking” much less relevant. Think less about getting new fans in the door and more about encouraging current fans to engage with the brand often. Speaking of…
 
Strategize natural engagement and seamless “real life” integration.
Facebook’s new user features favor a strategy of frequent, natural engagement. The ticker, displaying Facebook action in real time, best benefits a brand that provides numerous avenues for a user to interact with it (then broadcasting these interactions for the user’s friends to see and hopefully continuing brand engagement from a new user). Rather than just the one-time action of liking a brand, users can share how they’re incorporating the brand in real time in their online and offline lives. This kind of relationship is leaps and bounds more valuable to the brand and the consumer.  
 
In other words: It’s not good enough to update a brand’s status regularly, push out promotions, or have a snazzy, designed Facebook Fan Page. PR pros will need to brainstorm ways a brand can flawlessly (or “frictionless,” as Zuckerberg put it) fit into a user’s life, and the natural ways a consumer might want to express this online.
 
Boost engagement of current fans.
Facebook’s overhauled “Top Stories” news feed on the main page may mean that brand messages are pushed toward the bottom — or not seen by a user at all. Even frequent postings from brands won’t do much to change this algorithm. Instead, brands must come up with new and exciting ways to keep fans interacting with them frequently, both increasing the chances that the brand’s stories make it into a user’s newsfeed and allowing other users to see this brand interaction in the real time ticker.
 
Find a great digital partner.
PR pros never like to admit their hands are tied, but Facebook’s modifications put less of a focus on messaging and content strategy and more on app technology. Develop ideas for apps that let a user share you brand in a natural manner as they go through the day, then research an innovative digital agency to partner with. These shops can offer technical guidance, refine your idea, and ultimately build an app that achieves your PR goals. Working with a preferred Facebook developer, such as Carrot Creative, can help PR firms navigate the new Facebook app waters.


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About the Author
Elizabeth Friedland in Senior Digital Strategist, specializing in PR, at Hirons Advertising & Public Relations. To learn more than you ever wanted to know about her, visit www.elizabethfriedland.com.
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