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Why brands are failing on Facebook

Despite a significant increase in the number of mobile-driven ?Likes? on Facebook brand pages this year, many companies are still not optimizing their social experiences for mobile.

New research from social media solutions provider Friend2Friend? found that while mobile ?Likes? on brand pages have increased 500 percent since earlier this year, 7 out of 10 Facebook campaigns from large brands do not work on mobile. While there has been much discussion about Facebook needing to up its game in the mobile, the data suggests that brands also hold some of the responsibility for the inadequate mobile social experience.

?We have really just hit the tipping point over the last six to 12 months in terms of mobile and social use,? said Roger Katz, CEO of Friend2Friend, Palo Alto, CA.

?For the last few years, mobile has been on one track and social on another track,? he said.

?What marketers are finding is that the mobile experience should be infused with social in its DNA or it is going to be a voice in the wilderness, with one user having an experience and not being able to communicate it out to their friends.?

Huge opportunity
Friend2Friend?s data shows that there has been a 450 percent increase in Facebook smartphone traffic since earlier this year.

By not offering mobile-friendly Facebook experiences, brands could be losing out on the growing number of smartphone clicks taking place on Facebook.

?On the brand side, somewhere between one-third to a half of interactions on brand pages are coming from smartphones,? Mr. Katz said. ?This is just getting started and it is a huge opportunity for marketers.

?While the opportunity is really huge, from our perspective, marketers are deploying solutions that are not optimized for mobile,? he said.

Friend2Friend reviewed the mobile experiences offered by ten of the top brands on Facebook. In seven out of 10 cases, when someone clicked on a brand experience from a mobile device, it either did not work at all or the experience was disappointing.

Commonly found issues include clicks from the newsfeed that do not go anywhere or that link to a screen that has been shrunken down to fit on a mobile device and, as a result, is difficult to read and navigate.

HTML5 Web apps
There are several reasons why brands are not doing more to take advantage of the mobile opportunities on Facebook, per Mr. Katz. One is a simple lack of understanding, with many brands? practices still rooted in the desktop era.

Additionally, there is some confusion as to the relative benefits of native apps vs. Web apps.

While native apps can provide benefits in terms of performance, HTML5-based Web apps can better support a brand?s mobile experience on Facebook because they are easier to update and make it easy for brands to bring in links or a QR code without requiring users to download an app, per Mr. Katz.

Getting it right
While many brands are missing the mark, there are some that are getting it right on Facebook.

For example, SmartWool has created what it calls a Fanalog, which combines content submitted by customers from across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email. The content is organized by product and activity and made available for consumption on Facebook as well as through mobile.

Another example is provided by New Belgium Brewing, which has around 10 different apps or engagements on its Facebook page, all of which have been optimized for mobile consumption.

The results show this can be a meaningful strategy for marketers. For example, Outside magazine, which offers a number of mobile-optimized engagements on Facebook, is seeing higher engagement rates coming from mobile users, per Mr. Katz.

?Mobile users are focused more on the engagement or activity at hand,? Mr. Katz said. ?They may be at work on one screen and have a little bit of downtime so they are willing to put all their focus on that experience versus having 10 windows open on desktop.?

Brands should be focusing on delivering mobile experiences on Facebook that users can easily read and enable them to input information easily. One strategy that can help is to focus on using icons and tiles for navigation.

Going forward, brands are likely to create more engagements that can be consumed on Facebook, their Web sites and in mobile. The ability to do multi-screen engagements is being driven by HTML5 and cloud technology, a more portable social graph and the proliferation of smartphones.

?There is more of a recognition that you have to be where your users are and the concept of I am going to drive people to my Web site is outdated,? Mr. Katz said.

?The ability to design apps that are tied into Facebook?s social graph allows users to have experiences in different places while still being connected to friends,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York