About 1 in 4 Facebook brand pages in the U.S. has an app requiring a social opt-in. But few brands go beyond asking for an email address to opt-in, and that, says Mickael Bentz, product marketing manager at Neolane, is a mistake.
According to recent research of 150 brands in the US, UK and France by Neolane, the pieces of personal data most often requested by brand pages utilizing tab apps with social opt-in are email address (62%), birthdays (40%) and likes (31%). And 16% of brands don’t request any information to opt-in.
“I think there is one big reason: Lots of customers don’t know they can capture this information and they don’t know how to leverage it,” says Bentz.
This is because many brands rely on agencies to manage their Facebook pages and Facebook marketing, or they utilize community management tools. According to Bentz, agencies and tools aren’t ready to capture and leverage this kind of information.
The one piece of information that more companies should request is a user’s location. “We really advise our customers to use it to better understand people and send geo-located offers,” Bentz says. Of course, brands that use location information should be careful and make it easy for consumers to opt out of geo-targeted offers and messages.
Fan Gates Are Dying off
Neolane also looked at the use of fan gates (i.e., requests to like a brand’s page in order to access a tab app, done solely to increase the number of the page’s likes) by brand pages. It found that only nine percent of U.S. page tab apps are put behind a fan gate.
Fan gates aren’t too popular in the U.S., but 68% of brands in France and 19% of brands in the U.K. use them. While they offer a way to establish an official connection with consumers, it’s still a “really weak link between brands and their customers,” according to Bentz. That’s because consumers can easily stop a brand’s updates from appearing in their News Feeds.
Fan gating is also a feature that’s only available to Facebook users accessing the website on their desktop computers. When you consider that Facebook’s mobile products have more than 750 million monthly active users and that the social network hasn’t been shy about declaring its goal of being a mobile-first company, the writing is on the wall for fan gates.
Bentz says that fan gating was a more prominent, robust feature a few years ago, when users could still be directed to Facebook landing pages with a fan gate. Now that page owners can’t set default landing pages anymore, the benefits of fan gating are limited. With the rise of mobile Facebook access, fan gating “will completely disappear” in the near future, according to Bentz.
All Websites Will Be ‘Socialized’
Neolane also recently examined how 150 websites are using Facebook Login, formerly known as “Facebook Connect.” This sign-in feature makes it easier for users to log in to websites or apps, or fill in forms using their Facebook information.
According to this study, 94% of brands request email addresses, 71% request birthdays and 58% request users’ current cities. Only 17% request likes via Facebook Login, while 14% request interests.
Facebook Login shows the mutual benefits of “socializing” websites: users get an easy way to log in to websites without having to remember yet another set of login credentials; while brands have an opportunity to get useful, accurate information. Brands especially benefit from this because consumers have become so skilled at giving false information (e.g., a dummy email address). Facebook Login ensures that, most of the time, consumers are handing over their actual information.
This is just the beginning, according to Bentz. As brands get better at transforming big data into “smart data” that can be leveraged, social media will become more enmeshed in the fabric of off-social life.
“We really think that social media will socialize all websites,” Bentz says. This is already happening with Actions (i.e., verbs in addition to “like,” such as “want,” “own,” “cooked,” etc.) in Open Graph stories.
“There’s a gap between what marketers think people want and what people really want on social media,” Bentz says. This leads to brands mistakenly acting as if people connect with them online solely to listen and be entertained. The deeper socialization of the Web will emphasize the error of that approach.