Last week Facebook held a major conference f8 announcing the death of Facebook Connect and the birth of its replacement Open Graph API and a universal Like button (A Like button integrated on sites outside Facebook). Many see the new initiatives as part of Facebook’s real break out moment plus the fact they have reached a size close to Google and Yahoo and they are profitable. From a marketing perspective this once again shows us that Facebook is of great importance to marketers and companies need to take it seriously and also find out how Facebook best fit into their marketing and communication strategy.
Of what came out of the f8 conference I am really interested in the universal Like button. I find a lot of inspiration from my friends and would love an easy way for them to tell me what they find interesting on the Internet. For a company I think the value of the Like feature can be amazing as it makes it
much easier to have advocates help spread the good word about your products and get the valuable earned attention from you customers. I think there is an opportunity for early adopters as people will find it fun to try but I think the value will be there later too as the Facebook user gets used to the information and understands the value.
Above I have attached an example from Levis where they have integrated the Like concept into their own site. I will call this step two as a site like that needs to generate a critical mass before it becomes valuable but it’s a good example of how the social aspect is moving from Facebook and into sites.
In the category of ‘Social Gaming’, Sony PlayStation did not command the same reputation as its competitors. Sony Playstation thus tasked VerticPortals with the mission of promoting Singstar online as a game that encourages social interaction amongst its players. We leveraged the Facebook Connect application to empower users to organize parties within their peer group in an environment where they already felt very comfortable. Singstar is the hero that acts as the catalyst driving the communal engagement. Depending on whether users were seasoned veterans at the microphone, or complete amateurs, the site experience was personalized to help everyone make the most of the party atmosphere and, most importantly, used the integration of an established social network to effectively brand the social aspects of the game. Go try out the site for you self.
We are helping one of our favorite organizations get more awareness and hopefully win a grant from Sam’s Club. The Facebook application we have developed put Accion into the heart of each Facebook users account. The application we have developed to Accion asks the user to donate their profile picture for a day which is done automatically and leaves a post on the wall the tells more about the good cause. The campaign takes the most personal part of your profile and turns it into a good cause. Help us help Accion and go to the below address to change your profile picture:
About ACCION USA
At ACCION USA, we’re committed to bringing affordable microfinance solutions to small business owners who need them. We’re an organization with a nationwide reach that has helped thousands of small business owners grow and thrive. A recognized leader in U.S. microfinance, we help small business owners use microloans to build their businesses. ACCION USA is part of the U.S. ACCION Network, the largest domestic microlending network, with over $272 million lent since inception in 1991.
It’s been difficult to avoid Lady Gaga the last year. She has become a worldwide hit – even my 2 year old son likes Gaga and wants to watch her on Youtube. Gaga is mostly known for her music but what I think is impressive is her ability to market herself. Instead of leaving the her marketing up to her record company she has literally taken control of her own marketing channel, especially the social marketing channel. Currently she has 2.8 million Twitter followers, 5.2 million fans on Facebook and 110 million views on Youtube.
What is impressive is that she has quickly been able to capitalize on the audience first and foremost by selling a huge amount of records. She has gone further with her brand and expanded it by going into collaboration with Mac Viva Glam and producing a lipstick, a line of headphones with Monster/ beast by Dr. Dre, and she has become the creative director for Polaroid.
The lessons from her work are good examples of a previous post about building channels. She has built a Gaga channel and she keeps feeding info through the channel, rather than building a new channel for every new project. This has made it easy for her to focus her dialogue and feed her marketing messages into the channel. I know most companies can’t create the global hype somebody like Gaga can create, but many companies have just as many devoted fans as Gaga in terms of their loyal customers and can build an audience.
As dialogue moves online between companies and customers and back between customers and companies, knowing who you are actually talking to becomes less transparent. I think this is a problem both for companies and consumers, and undermines the value of a growing online dialogue.
What we recommend to our clients is to have a transparent policy in covering all online interactions out of and into the company. A good example is Coca-Cola’s 10 Principles for Online Spokespeople:
1. Be Certified in the Social Media Certification Program.
2. Follow the Code of Business Conduct and all other Company policies.
3. Be mindful that you are representing the Company.
4. Fully disclose your affiliation with the Company.
5. Keep records.
6. When in doubt, do not post.
7. Give credit where credit is due and don’t violate others’ rights.
8. Be responsible to your work.
9. Remember that your local posts can have global significance.
10. Know that the Internet is permanent.
What this illustrates is that even a large global company like Coca-Cola can implement easy-to-understand and remember policies, which in 10 points make all employees part of the company voice. I really like that they only allow comments with full disclosure of company affiliation. It’s wrong not to do so and I think in most cases people quickly discover “under-cover” representatives.
I recommend to consumers to do the same, as it will encourage a fair dialogue and, if you are afraid of saying and using your own name, it is most likely better not to say anything at all. There are exceptions and I will finish off this post with a link to a story about a women who with a fake Facebook account caught her husband cheating.
The latest Nielsen study shows that more and more seniors 65 or older are online and they are spending more time online in the U.S. The study does not give reasons why this is happening but I think it’s a just another example of how the Internet has gone mainstream. It’s becoming more and more difficult to live without using the Internet and the Internet is becoming more accessible and easy to use. People who turn seniors has also in many cases already use the Internet and computers for many years as they are no longer a generation that grew up without computers.
From November 2004 to 2009 there has been an 55% increase in active users totaling 17.5 million. They are however still only 10% of the total amount of U.S. users. Their user pattern is very normal including checking email, online maps, weather, paying bills and reading news. They are using the Internet as a normal extension of their daily live.
What I found most interesting is Facebook as number third most visited site and Youtube as the forth most visited site. It’s interesting because it shows that once they are online they embrace new services that are unique to the Internet. It also shows how good services like Facebook and Youtube are designed as they can easily be used by people from of all ages. The lesson for marketers is that functionality helps capture audience and that there is a growing mature audience on the Internet to speak to.
Only a couple of days after my post about the need for better portability of your social identity, Google has launched new features to its ‘Friend Connect’ solution. This looks like a clear move to counter the success of Facebook Connect, which is the current leader when it comes to easy integration and actual number of sites using the feature. This does not mean they are the definitive or the best solutions – just that both companies have a very larger user base that they can activate, which at the moment is the only measure of success.
The advantage for companies and their websites is that these services can make a site more social and engaging, and facilitates visitors interacting with each other. A site can piggyback on the technology from Friends Connect and enhance the social aspect of the site. The information gathered about the visitors can then be used to better target marketing solutions and shape the content of campaigns to match the interest of the site visitors.
The services from Google and Facebook are very similar but the two differ in who you can share with. Facebook only shares information between your friends but Google gives the opportunity to be social with whoever may have a similar interest. Both have their advantages and I think they will appeal to two different user types. I still think though that both are too centered on their own services and not open enough to become a winning standard. This should, nevertheless in the short term, not de-value the opportunities there are to take advantage from theses two services.
Alice Marwick, current PhD candidate in the department of media, culture and communication at New York University, writes that There’s No Hiding on Facebook in a recent issue of The Guardian.
Currently, keeping a private life on the very public internet is largely out of the question. Google even has a feature to create your own Google-branded profile! (This was discovered while Googling myself.)
More websites are appearing with Facebook Connect functionality, requiring a log in before even accessing the site. Your curiosity might get the best of you, so you click, and in a blink, your Twitter feed or Facebook Status posts a message urging your followers to visit the same site. But you didn’t write that. Or did you? But the things you might miss out on if you don’t click!
Should users assume the worst of social media? Or, should social media continue to adapt to our needs for privacy? If we refuse to participate, we could hold ourselves back from fully realizing the coolness that could be out there.
Facebook keeps getting more popular and has just reached a new milestone of 300 million users worldwide – an impressive number (even if, admittedly, some of the users are not very active). What is equally important to Facebook is that they have managed to become cash-flow positive, no doubt largely driven by keeping staff numbers low. So they are no longer in as much danger of becoming just another dot.com bubble-bursting IPO. Their popularity is not only in the US too, as 70% of the user base is outside the US, which I find even more remarkable as they have become an internationally recognized brand in such a short time. The global presence has however not made it easier for them to make money on their business model besides the simple display ads. (more…)
Two teenage girls in Adelaide, Australia, got trapped in a storm drain and instead of calling 911 they updated their Facebook profile. As crazy as this sounds, it happened, and luckily they had friends online who then alerted the local Metropolitan Fire Service who then came to their rescue.
For a lot of us who grew up before the Internet, social media etc. this may seem impossible but it’s a good reminder that the way we communicate is changing. This may be one extreme but social media is spreading faster than the HIN1 virus and there is no flu shot to avoid it. (more…)