Taking a page out of the Twitter playbook, today Facebook revealed its launch of "Interest Lists," strikingly similar to Twitter Lists, which have been around since October of 2009. According to TechCrunch, Facebook will be rolling out Interest Lists to users over the next few weeks.
What Are Interest Lists?
Interest Lists allow users to organize updates into separate topics from a collection of fan pages and public figures who have the subscribe button enabled on their profile. For example, a user could create a "Recipes" Interest List, adding to it fan pages like Betty Crocker and the Food Network, as well as the profiles of their favorite food bloggers to which they subscribe.
Users can also subscribe to Interest Lists created by other people, as Facebook will suggest popular lists and make it easy for users to discover lists created by their friends.
While content from Interest Lists to which you subscribe will automatically get pulled into your main news feed, individual Interest Lists can also be viewed in a separate news feed of their own, so users who follow an individual list can access a feed dedicated to updates just from pages or people included on that list. To do so, the user clicks on the Interest List in the left sidebar on their Facebook homepage -- AKA their news feed.
When a user creates a list, only he/she has the power to edit it. The creator can also choose to make the list private, available to friends, or allow it to be publicly available so it will appear in Facebook’s list recommendations to others and enable them to subscribe.
How to Create an Interest List
If Facebook has rolled out Interest Lists to you, locate 'Interests' in the left sidebar navigation on your news feed (you may need to click "more" at the bottom to see it). Click 'Interests' --> 'Add Interest,' and then you can search for other Interest Lists or create your own.
When creating a list, a user can then add pages or people they're already subscribed to, as well as choose other popular pages/people in specific categories (e.g. Art, Books, Business, etc.) that Facebook recommends, or search for people/pages to add on their own.
Once you've created your list, click 'Next,' and choose a name for your list as well as who you'd like your list to be available to -- just you, your friends, or the public.
How Marketers Can Leverage Interest Lists
Facebook has now made it a whole lot easier for users to curate the content they're interested in. So how can marketers benefit?
While it doesn't look like Facebook has added functionality to enable you to create Interest Lists as a brand page, we still see several benefits for marketers that come with Facebook's new feature.
1) Create Awesome Lists in Your Industry
You may not be able to create Interest Lists 'by' your brand page, but that doesn't mean a prominent, public-facing employee from your company can't. Ask one of your executives to create a list for your industry, and help him/her curate the best pages and people on it.
For example, if your industry is business services, you could create a list curating educational resources in the business services industry. Just make sure you add your company's business page to it, and then promote it to the high heavens -- on your blog, in social media, etc. If you're successful in generating a lot of subscribers for it, the updates you post to your Facebook business page will get seen by the subscribers of that Interest List, exposing you to people who may not be following your Facebook page directly.
2) Encourage Thought Leaders to Add the Subscribe Button to Their Personal Profile
While you're at it, encourage the public-facing executives and thought leaders in your business to add the subscribe button to their personal Facebook profiles and share your business' content. Individual people can only be added to Interest Lists if they've implemented the subscribe button, so doing so will enable users who are creating new Interest Lists to add your business' thought leaders to their list, increasing the chances of exposing your business' content to people who subscribe to those lists.
3) Promote the 'Add to Interest Lists' Feature on Your New Facebook Page Design
You're getting up to speed with the new Facebook page design, right? With the new design, visitors to your page can easily add your page to one of their Interest Lists using the drop-down menu at the top of your page. So first, update your business page to the new design (you'll be forced to do it on March 30th anyway), and then encourage page visitors to add your page to their Interest Lists where appropriate. Using the new 'pin' feature of the new Facebook page design, you could even anchor a message that encourages page visitors to do this at the top of your page.
4) Create Content About Industry News
We can't help but see a connection between Interest Lists and the power of leveraging fresh content about industry news. Think about it: if something newsworthy happens in your industry and you're the first to cover it on your blog and promote it on your Facebook page, you'll indirectly also be broadcasting that news (and your brand) to any Interest Lists you're a part of. And being first means you'll likely capture the majority of traffic interested in that news to your blog. In today's online world, timeliness wins. Think about how you can do some newsjacking in your industry to get in front of your audience. As an SEO bonus, you'll also benefit from Google Panda's emphasis on fresh and timely content!
5) Create a Must-Subscribe, Content-Rich Facebook Presence
Facebook users are never going to add your business page to one of their Interest Lists if it's not, well ... interesting. So if you want your business page to be on every Interest List pertaining to your particular industry, you need to be regularly updating it with fresh, relevant, and high-quality content. That's right -- content is still king, so if content creation isn't already a central part of your inbound marketing strategy, this just makes another compelling case for why it should be.
What do you think about Facebook's new Interest Lists? How else do you think marketers can leverage them?