Vincent Sider, head of social media for BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of BBC, kicked off the AllFacebook Marketing Conference this morning near St Pauls in London with a warts-and-all presentation about the challenges posed to brands by recent changes made by Facebook to Edgerank.
His key takeaway: the era of brands that are successful on Facebook without apps is over.
For years, BBC Worldwide was using its base of nearly 28 million fans across its Facebook pages for Top Gun, Dr Who, Sherlock, etc to drive traffic back to its websites (eg TopGear.com) featuring display ads. He told the AllFacebook Conf that he proved ROI to justify budgets with a simple model:
100 m visits to TopGear.com
38% came from Facebook
£2.5m in ad sales
= £950,000 in revenue attributed to social
The problems began in May, when Sider began seeing big changes in referrals from Facebook as a result of changes to Edgerank. Referrals from Facebook to TopGear dropped 27.8% quarter-on-quarter. The average daily reach as a % of fans dropped from 38% in July to 14% in October. (pictured – if a bit fuzzy!)
This meant a loss of revenue of £139,755 for TopGear.
In order to make up the difference in referral traffic, Sider said he would need to spend £2,540 per promoted post (£10k/day). The cost of sales per month to maintain that revenue would be £300,000.
But rather than sour completely on Facebook as a cornerstone of Sider’s strategy, Sider revealed how he plans to lead BBC WorldWide through the changes: “apps, apps and more apps”.
In addition to diversifying its social strategy (currently 87% Facebook, 10% Google+, 3% Twitter), harnessing user-generated social content from live events and “finding any good reason to celebrate” – eg the 3 millionth Like for Dr Who – Sider said that BBC Worldwide were doubling down on apps connected to Facebook Open Graph.
Apps, Sider said, were the way to activate the audience on Facebook. He revealed that we can look forward in the next few weeks to an Advent Calendar app from BBC Good Food, apps revolving around the return of the Cybermen on Dr Who and Christmas-themed Dr Who apps.
Sider closed with a really important takeaway about apps. He believes Facebook’s message is: “We are not (just) a page/post platform anymore – we are an app platform. The focus from brands should be to build apps that have value for the end user. Apps need to be underpinned by a strong business model.”
His advice for the AllFacebook Conference audience?
“Create Apps that provide value for the end user – that’s the way to activate audience on Facebook, tapping into the Open Graph.”
We couldn’t agree more.
UPDATE: It’s been pointed out that Facebook has a different take on the points raised by Vincent Sider. 1 in 5 minutes spent on the Internet is spent on Facebook, and 40% of that time is in the News Feed. So publishing is very important to the future of Facebook. While we’re not sure this actually contradicts anything Vincent said we’re happy to provide additional context.
“Understanding the Most Valuable Real Estate: The Facebook Newsfeed” is coming up after the lunch break, featuring speakers from Yorkshire Tea, Syncapse, AgoraPulse, Brainient and Cheil Worldwide. Follow @rdelevan and @betapond for updates.