Facebook Lite Is a Black Hole for Brands

Many of the Tools Marketers Use Aren't Present

By Published on .

David Berkowitz
David Berkowitz
Facebook Lite is a new streamlined version designed for people with slow internet connections. There's no chat and no applications. It's designed to give users quick access to their News Feed, inbox and events. Oddly though, it still includes a "post video" button -- who would do that on such a slow connection? I often can't do that with broadband.

Brands with Facebook Pages get short-changed here. You can't find Pages in the search results on Lite, even if you're already a fan; only people show up. There are no engagement ads -- just minimalist self-service ads with text, thumbnails, and a link. Updates from Pages don't appear in your Lite inbox. Branded Pages' status updates still appear in the News Feed, and you can click that to go to the Page, but there's just the stripped down Wall rather than all the tabs (there's still a link to the Page's photos and videos). It's yet another reminder for Page owners that to stay top of mind with consumers, it's important to post updates regularly. Developing an editorial calendar can help achieve that goal.

Facebook Lite
Facebook Lite
Facebook Lite could be bad news for brands if consumers adopt it en masse, but that's not likely for two reasons. First, the percentage of home internet users with broadband access is reportedly well over 90%. The sound of modems dialing up is quickly being relegated to those "when I was a kid..." stories, like the one my dad tells about walking to school 20 miles in the snow being chased by German shepherds. Stories of 1,200 baud modems sound even less believable.

Second, most Facebook users who try Lite will wind up missing some of the full functionality, whether it's instant messaging or applications or the easier way links appear when including them in status updates. There will be people out there like Mashable's Stan Schroeder who talk about how they prefer Lite, but I'll wager he's well in the minority, and even most of the Stans out there will wind up defaulting to the original. Even some dial-up users will probably choose the original rather than give up features like IM.

Brands should keep an eye on this though. One way is to check Quantcast's Lite traffic report (non-existent so far) and other sources to see if it gains momentum. The safer bet is that it will keep a small percentage of consumers loyal and addicted to Facebook without changing the habits of anyone else.

David Berkowitz is director of emerging media for 360i. He blogs regularly at Inside the Marketer's Studio and 360i's Digital Connections. He also contributed to the just-released Social Marketing Playbook.
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