Tag Archives: facebook

Facebook is Your Volatile Nightmare Landlord

14 Oct

For a while now you’ll have seen TV commercials, magazine or online ads sign off with a Facebook link. If your business is using Facebook as its website you may already have invested a lot of time nurturing people one by one through the stages of engagement; interest, trial, customer and then friend. They may visit your Facebook page regularly and get your business notifications via their Liking you. All is wonderful in the land of Zuckerberg.

This is all fine as long as it’s understood that your business status on Facebook is that of a tenant. You have few rights, do not own your content and your landlord can change the rules whenever they like; even if that means torpedoing your business. Fantasy surely, but you only have to look to the moves Zynga announced last week.

Zynga is the social gaming giant of Facebook and its biggest app-maker. They provide free-to-play games, enhanced with micro-payments and with titles you may have heard of – Farmville, Cityville, Mafia Wars – they have been very successful. Their revenue in 2010 was $597 million of which $58 million was profit. In July of this year their profits plummeted. The main reason? Facebook.

Facebook Credits take a cut from your e-commerceIn July 2011 Facebook introduced Facebook credits and dictated that all transactions had to be conducted with their credits. Their cut is 30% and this slashed Zynga’s profits by 90% for the quarter.

I don’t see a 30% cut as particularly onerous by the way, it’s a lot better than Groupon’s 50% – 100%, but if your business’ online presence relies on Facebook, then I’d suggest you consider what you might do if they change the rules overnight. At  the very least check if your current page flouts any of the existing rules. This is especially important if you’re using Facebook’s native functionality to promote your business. For example, running a competition on your wall isn’t permitted by Facebook. Contravene it and they can just shut you down without warning. No more business page. And yes, they do check and they do enforce it.

Returning to Zynga. In their case they announced the launch of Zynga Direct. An effort to break their reliance on Facebook and get customers onto their platform without going through Facebook. Not an easy undertaking considering their business was built from the ground up on Facebook.

It’s vital to consider Facebook as one engagement channel and not your only channel. You need to spread your message across different channels, each tailored to the users and expectations of those channels. It’s harder to do and you may need an agency to strategise, co-ordinate, or set this up for you, but it allows you to be flexible and mitigates platform fatigue or failure.

You should also determine where your hub is; The place that your online visitors will end up at. Perhaps it starts with Facebook, ending at your own website where you control your content.

Let’s go a step further. What if your Facebook landlord decides to sell up and disappear? If there’s a constant in the digital world it’s that everything changes.

The biggest search engine in the world in 2000? Yahoo; the crumbling father of the internet, leaking CEO’s and market share like a North Korean submarine, exited search entirely in 2009, replaced by a company no-one had heard of 11 years ago… Google

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You hired a social media saboteur

24 Aug

social media saboteurSocial media strategies. All too often they appear to be ill-informed and poorly implemented. I suspect the working of social media saboteurs. This is how they work…

Client, in this case a Co-op: “We sell some great local products in our stores. We want to increase consumer awareness and appreciation of our supplier’s food products. We’re thinking of some sort of people’s choice award.”

Social Media Saboteur: “Building awareness eh? Well social media is huge right now so let’s run a contest using Facebook. We’ll ask people on Facebook to vote in a contest.”

Co-op: “Great, we already have a Facebook page, so I guess they vote with some kind of status updates maybe?”

SM Saboteur: “Well we could do that, but we’re going to use the Like button, that way we can trick people into receiving product updates.”

Co-op: “I see, well we do love the people who already Like our supplier’s products.”

SM Saboteur: “The real fans? We don’t want them to vote.”

Co-op: “er… what?”

SM Saboteur: “Nope, don’t need ’em.”

Co-op: “Well er… oh I get it, you’re suggesting we should focus on new audiences in other channels.”

SM Saboteur: [chuckles] “Of course not, why waste effort on an unknown entity? Everyone is on Facebook.”

Co-op: “So let me see if I’ve got this straight? We’ll run a contest for mildly engaged customers on Facebook. When they vote we’ll subscribe them to product updates. They’ll start loving the product and buy more?”

SM Saboteur: “Bingo!” [fires two imaginary pistols in the air and blows smoke from the barrels]

Sounds far fetched doesn’t it? Well this is exactly the perception I get when I looked at the Co-op’s Eat Atlantic Food product of the year award, One of a number of Co-op campaign initiatives currently running on the Canadian east coast.

The award component is being run as a public vote. And as is so often the case these days, the strategist appears to have defaulted to Facebook as the platform to run the competition. I’m not saying Facebook isn’t suitable for social marketing. If the product(s) and the goals align with the platform then it can be a match made in heaven, and in this case the products are actually better suited to Facebook than most, but in this case the goals and implementation fall far short of their potential.

I’ll explain and, acknowledging that just picking holes in something doesn’t really advance anyone’s knowledge, I’ll provide some ways the campaign elements might have been improved.

The saboteur’s aims:

To limit the reach:
In a news article in the Times and Transcript, Romeo Cormier, manager of public affairs at the Co-Op explains the Award are part of a campaign to:

“…raise consumer awareness and appreciation for the world-class food products made here in Atlantic Canada.”

A competitive vote is a perfectly acceptable way to motivate fans to spread the word, but the nominated products were solicited from existing Facebook fans and Facebook is used as the voting mechanism. In effect this is severely limiting the reach by only targeting existing fans on one platform.

Alternate strategy: Expand the reach of the contest. Provide each nominated supplier with a suite of tools and simple solutions to encourage them to get votes from their customers. Tweet badges for websites, suggested email copy for mailing lists, incentivise voters with a decent prize for a random voter for the winning product. Send sample packs of nominated products to influential East coast food bloggers. There’s a whole world beyond Facebook.

To exclude most of the voters:
To vote, you have to Like the product on Facebook. This seems like a great way to increase engagement by subscribing people to future updates, but there’s a huge failing here. Fans can’t vote if they’ve previously Liked the product. This is a huge mistake! It excludes brand ambassadors from voting. The very people who are going to wave the flag for you are the ones you want to activate and encourage.

An alternate strategy: If you’re targeting Facebook then the status update mechanism will allow anyone on Facebook to vote, existing fan or otherwise. More importantly, allow people to vote with the tools they’re comfortable with. A lot of people are on Facebook sure, but your biggest fans might not be. Make it easy for them and allow votes to be submitted from different platforms. There may be duplicate votes, but this can only expand reach which ultimately is the goal.

To give the favourites a head start.
The contest rules suggest that the winner will be decided by the most likes. The current contest leader had approx 700 Likes at the start of the contest. They can quite comfortably ignore the competition, go on holiday and still win by a landslide. Even more troubling is that the landing page always displays the nominees in the same order. Guess who is in the favored top spot on the page? Yup, the runaway favorite.

Alternate strategy: Level the playing field. You’re not going to build a competitive spirit by giving Michael Phelps a 90m head-start in the 100m freestyle. Set all the competitors at zero votes and introduce a way to track votes within the timeline of the competition, e.g. subject lines in email votes, SMS shortcodes, hashtags in tweets etc. This gives the smaller suppliers a chance in one arena that they can compete with the big boys; community engagement, and energising ambassadors with one-to-one communication.
When displaying the nominees, randomise the list for each site visitor, ensuring everyone get’s a chance to appear at the top.

To ignore the original goal
The voting page displays each nominee, a logo and the infamous Like button… and that’s it. Looking back at the original goal, the execution falls way short on the aims.

Alternate strategy:
Address the goal of promoting “appreciation for the world-class food products” right on the vote landing page. Alongside each product display customer testimonials, celebrate the local ingredients, get some product insight from the farmer/manufacturer. This is going to expose voters to a broader range of products and help fulfill the aim of raising consumer awareness.

Ultimately every aspect of the competition should be checked against the goals.

How useful is all that data on Facebook?

15 Jun

Indulge your ego for a moment. Imagine a distant future where you are an icon of our age. There is a museum dedicated to you. People come from around the world to discover who you were through the images, video, and words taken from records kept safe through the years by Facebook. As you picture the exhibits, what do they include? How would the future see you through the lens of your online identity?

Museum of Me Facebook Picture Wall

Intel’s “Museum of Me” is an innovative glimpse into what that might actually look like. By connecting to your Facebook account, the website creates a virtual museum tour dedicated to you. If you haven’t tried it yet, I strongly recommend it. The experience is quite thought-provoking.

However, what the software decided to include was unusual. There were friends who weren’t really friends, and phrases out of context. Some pictures I recognized, others held absolutely no meaning. If this was truly a “Museum of Me”, the patrons would now be mistaken about who I actually am, or was. And if this is based on data from Facebook, maybe Facebook doesn’t have a very good idea about who I am either.

With all the information available on my profile, can a metric or algorithm really capture anything truly insightful about me? Perhaps the usefulness in these mountains of data ends with micro-targeting.

As people we often get each other wrong. Misconceptions and false impressions, egos, vanity, and pride, they all confuse the world to who we really are. More of the same data doesn’t mean a better market profile; you need different sets of data to compare. No matter how big our online lives get, parts of them will remain offline. If you’re depending solely on Facebook and Google to describe your market, you’ll get a picture that’s incomplete and maybe even inaccurate.

Do you compare what you learn about your market online to what you know from other sources? If it doesn’t line up, who do you believe?

Know your social media potential

5 May

According to Edison Research and Arbitron (sourced on Convince and Convert):

51% of Americans use Facebook
8% use Twitter
4% use location-based services (eg, Foursquare)
(Americans 12+, 2011 data)

Assuming your B2C business has a diverse customer base that is not significantly more likely to be active in social media, some thoughts about social media initiatives fall out of this data.

You must have the raw customer numbers to justify devoting resources to social media. How many customers do you have? This is your potential social media audience. I’m assuming no-one (outside of the ad industry) is going to follow/‘like’ you unless they are a customer – why would they?* You can tweet every hour for a year, and not expect more than 8% of your current customer base to follow you.

Put potential audience before the potential of the platform. Foursquare offers a great opportunity for driving traffic, frequency, and loyalty. But is the investment in this tactic worth it when the potential is 4% of your customers? Could that Foursquare program you’re planning be adapted to something on Facebook?

You must have a valid reason for using Twitter over Facebook. You might personally prefer using Twitter. You might argue Twitter is better for giving regular updates than Facebook. But in making that choice, you are limiting your potential audience from half your customers to less than one in ten (unless you can effectively use both platforms).

The reason why national brands are more likely to use and be successful with social media isn’t big budgets but big audiences. They can afford to run a social media promotion – like the Foursquare promotion that Domino’s did in their 600+ UK stores which received 9,617 check-ins. At that rate, a local pizza shop running the same promotion would get 16 check-ins. And the investment in building the Foursquare program could very well be similar.

Based on this data, I think that the vast majority of local B2C businesses should concentrate their social media efforts on Facebook.

PS – but, you say, people are more likely to follow businesses on Twitter than Facebook. True, but the research shows 25% of people follow a brand on Facebook vs 5% on Twitter. Still a big spread.

PS2 – but, what if you are using social media to bring in new customers? the same rationale applies – do you want to talk to a potential 51% of the market on Facebook, or 8% on Twitter?

*yes, in theory, you should be providing valuable/interesting information that would appeal to customers or not – but really, non-customer fans have got to be a small minority. Ask someone who doesn’t work in the industry how many consumer brands they haven’t bought that they follow/‘like’.

A Pint for a Pic

25 Feb

I often hear talk about how traditional media forms are dying as new advertising mediums emerge. However, I wouldn’t start mourning the loss of traditional media just yet.

Traditional media isn’t going to disappear, it’s just going to have to evolve to work in conjunction with our Facebooks, our Yelps, our foursquares, and of course whatever it is that will be the hot new thing next year.

Maude Hunter’s recent ‘back of the bus’ contest is a great example of how social media can be used in conjunction with traditional media.

Maude’s back of the bus advertising is all over town but I didn’t take notice until I saw their Facebook contest. “Spot the bus ad. Take a picture. Post it on the page. Get a gift certificate” . It was simple and social.

Consider the broad reach of this combination of advertising. The older demographic who isn’t on a smart phone still gets the branding exposure from seeing the bus backs while the more technology savvy audience is sparked by the contest and rewarded for the extra effort of noticing the ad, taking a picture and uploading it to Facebook.

There are very few occasions where I will actually chase after a piece of advertising. But, two days after seeing their contest announced, I spotted the bus, merged, detoured, and finally captured my gift worthy snap shot.

So, kudos to Maude Hunters Pub for their thriving Facebook page. Their advertising 1- 2 punch is undeniably working on me. Have you seen these ads around town? Bet you will even more now that I’ve mentioned it.

Ranking social media spaces for helpfulness

27 Jan

As we are going through a stimulating week chasing down support for our blog in an online poll, we come to the following conclusions:

> Twitter numbers are relative.

Someone with 10,000 followers on Twitter is exponentially less likely to be retweeted than someone with 1,000, all other variables being equal. While it’s true that having more followers means more tweeters will try to get access to them, it’s also true that you simply can’t know 10,000 people personally, so the connections are less personal and helpful.

> LinkedIn contacts are not particularly LinkedIn.

You don’t owe your LinkedIn contacts regular touching and generosity before you ask for help – as with Twitter – because many of these relationships are not new. But don’t expect too much. LinkedIn is not particularly social. It’s remains a more self-interested place. Like a lot of businesses, come to think of it.

> Facebook friends are invested however…

Personal contacts are more loyal and helpful than purely business contacts. They are emotionally invested in your success, even if they don’t always understand what the hell you do. A request for support on Facebook gets reaction, but business is not really on the menu and thoughts quickly return to fart jokes and funny videos.

In summary, when it comes to business aid, friends are more loyal than contacts but followers are the best of both worlds. Twitter wins.

PS> Everything you’ve heard about Victoria is true. It really is an amazing social media town. We found unbelievable, regular and continuous support from our Twitter followers and social media kin. Facebook and LinkedIn were less relevant geographically to the equation. But Twitter was all about geography.

Do NOT like me on Facebook

14 Jan

There is really no point questioning the selection of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s baby-faced founder, as Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. What he has created is a phenomenal universe onto itself: an insular, isolated utopia where everything is governed by rules, observances and protocols. It even has its own language.

The tricky thing about it is how benign it is. For any counter-culture business, Facebook is not currently the place to be.

But imagine if you could Hate a business, idea or link on Facebook. We were discussing this around the boardroom table yesterday. Imagine if clicking on a Hate button produced a negative sound: a fart, or a boo, or an irritated growl.

That sure would be a lot more fun, and it would allow those counter-culture businesses to move comfortably in. It would also help mitigate the relentless chirpy feel-good positivism of the site, which just doesn’t feel real.

As it stands now, Facebook seems too much like Up With People for its own good.

Do you Hate this idea?