Top 10 Things You May Not Know About Facebook…for Marketers

Think you know all there is to know about Facebook?

I admit it, I like Facebook.  I think it’s compelling, addictive, and fun, even though I hate those vampire apps and any app where you gain more points by inviting friends to use the app.  I’m guessing you’ve tried it – If you have, you’ve probably found a few high school friends, connected with some college buddies, you’ve SuperPoke’d some people, you’ve been bitten by a werewolf or two and you think you’re addicted.  You might check your account a few times a day.  You get poked, you poke back, you deal with all the BACN.  But what about the marketing tools?  What’s the reach of the audience for a retailer? 

Today a regional sales director from Facebook came to our home office to talk about how the Facebook advertising platform works, the origin and history of the company, and how we can better advise clients to leverage the platforms to drive traffic and promote their sites.  Here are the top ten things I learned about Facebook that I didn’t know, after about 4 months of being a regular user:

10. 60% of Facebook’s current traffic is from outside the US

9.  1 out of every 2 people online in Canada is a Facebook user

8.  Facebook has doubled in size every six months

7.  Half of Facebook’s users today are over 25

6.  When a company buys a social ad in your news feed, and a user opts to participate, the first 3 friends of that user who see the ad are free to the buyer

5.  Sponsored stories in your News Feed always first show at #2 on the list, show at the most 5 times in 24 hours, and naturally move down your News Feed in that time

4.  The average Facebook user has just under 120 friends

3.  The next big opportunity where Facebook currently doesn’t advertise?  Facebook Mobile

2.  Companies will soon be able to leverage a tool called "Chatter" to measure and track the buzz going on in Facebook about their company

1.  Facebook has an AVERAGE of 200 data points on every user

That last point really got me – I knew Facebook had a lot of information, but for an average user, 200 data points?  A marketer’s dream and a privacy advocate’s gasoline to pour on the fire.  Either way, thanks to Facebook for presenting today, good stuff and I look forward to figuring out how to to leverage the tools available.

Competence is King

How do you establish trust in a service provider? When you bring your car in for service, do you go to a certified dealer or the local mechanic? How did you choose – based on your relationship with the mechanic? Your loyalty to the dealer? Your concern about the car?

As a consumer you have many options and factors that influence your decision to buy services.  In the long term, however, you continue to engage in your service provider at a minimum because that provider demonstrated competence in what you seek.  The same principle applies to companies, large or small, that rely on partner firms to solve business problems.  Quite simply, any consultant needs to be competent in solving relevant problems for the client or it will not work.

One of the clients I work with is in the top 250 internet retailers, a small family-owned and operated business that moved years ago from a paper catalog to the online channel.  The catalog makes up 10-20% of its business today, and bricks-n-mortar another 5-10% – but the online channel took off.  As an early adopter of IBM Websphere Commerce, the client engaged a partner firm 8 years ago to help maintain its website.  As the online channel grew, it became apparent that a small technology shop was not suitable to maintain a best of breed site.  As recently as March of 2007 the company still used a modem to download it’s orders on a daily basis. 

Enter my current firm.  As one of the top business partners for IBM Websphere Commerce, we were able to demonstrate not only our knowledge of the product but the deep relationships to IBM’s Websphere labs in Toronto.  With core expertise in the internet retail industry, we were able to demonstrate how we could more effectively manage the website for the client and build a long term roadmap for improvements to keep up with an evolving industry.  We not only constructed a multi-year deal to maintain the Websphere Commerce installation, we have been able to make substantial impact to the business in other areas where we provide relevant expertise:  creative support for campaigns, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) driving significant % in additional revenue, and in the long term a substantial upgrade and conversion focused redesign.

The point is that through bringing the relevant expertise to bear, we are able to demonstrate through competence in online retailing, Websphere Commerce, SEM, and interactive design that we can both have a fundamental impact on the client’s business, provide value and demonstrate ROI in a long term fruitful business relationship.  Not to mention a happy client is a fun one.

How do you decide what service provider you engage, from babysitters to car service to business partners?

A few words on the Patriots

Belichick_2 They had it won.  Brady marched down the field and threw a TD with a couple minutes left.  Defense shows up and it’s over.  Multiple times on that drive I jumped out of my seat thinking the Pats had pulled it off.  Almost INT.  4th down.  Then someone possessed Eli Manning, turned him into a quarterback he’s not, stuck Velcro on Tyree’s helmet and ripped the heart out of every Pats fan with less than 2 minutes to go in the game.  Such is life.  I am very superstitious and believe that the whole karma of the game was thrown off when Belichick walked on the field in that awful red sweatshirt.  That was the baseball equivalent of the Red Sox wearing the once-a-year Sunday Green shirts in Game 7 of the World Series.  Would that ever happen?  Of course not.  If it’s at home it’s white.  If it’s on the road, it’s that traditional grey.  Grey.  Keep the cut off arms and the embroidered ‘BB’.  Sure it looks ridiculous, but you don’t mess with the formula.  I was uncomfortable from the start of the game, I didn’t know if I should keep on my Grogan jersey or leave it in the closet.  Should I put our 3rd and youngest son to bed during halftime, wearing his Brady jersey like I did his older brothers in victorious years past?  (the oldest actually wore a Bledsoe jersey to sleep as an 8-month old baby – who had Brady jerseys then?).  You’re not supposed to think, you just follow the formula. 

It was still an entertaining season, and I’m humble enough to be grateful there are only two weeks between the Superbowl and pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training.

(By the way, for colleagues in Cleveland (like the one who decided to open up a can of worms off my first blog post), can Cleveland ever catch a break at all?  It’s been more than a year of "almost winning" a lot. I’ve been good – I didn’t talk any trash during the ALCS, and sat in the bleachers at the Jake in Game 3 suffering relentless txt message abuse from all of you.  Even with the Patriots losing, everyone will remember they lost in the greatest Superbowl ever.  Years from now no one will remember that Cleveland lost the NBA finals, collapsed in the ALCS and didn’t make it to the NFL playoffs.  Oh, right, except me.  And I’ll remind you, often if necessary.  Looking forward to the NBA playoffs this year…)

Email – Electronic Landfills Get Bigger

Last Thursday in Internet Retailer was a release from Juniper Networks projecting a significant increase in spending on email marketing for the next 6 years. 

Emailtombstone"Overall spending on marketing e-mail in the U.S. is expected to grow from $1.2 billion last year to $2.1 billion by 2012, with b2c e-mail continuing to represent the largest share of that total."

Jupiter, are you serious?  With Facebook, IM, Twitter, text messaging and lots of alternatives out there, spending substantial money on email campaigns seems foolish and throwing good money after bad.  I know many young folks who check email once a week at most.  I personally have a separate email account I use whenever a website requires me to put in an address, which I check maybe once every two weeks just to empty the inbox.  While email may never go away, I think it’s going the way of voicemail.  Anyone used to have Octel?  You could send messages to another person on the network easily…my old company used to live by it, even sending out broadcast community octel updates.  IM was the death of octel – suddenly you could get a hold of anyone easily and effectively, and in a manner of months I went from 8-10 octels a day to 1-2 a month.  Email may not suffer the same fate, but is there any doubt it’s becoming less effective or relevant?

When you read on in the article it says that many sites will fail to reduce or refine their lists, leading to higher spending.  More "marketing clutter" is coming your way, and even subscribed emails will be competing for your eyes with spam, bac’n and promotions that aren’t relevant to you.  Companies are better off spending that money on refining their lists, segmenting customers and developing a strategy and targeted campaign to get the right emails to the right people.  Otherwise the following 3 things will come true: companies are going to flush a lot of cash down the toilet, more companies enter the email marketing blitz, and overall ROI decreases over time.  What do you think?

Tag – I’m It

Kudos to Len Devanna for tagging me.  Not this kind of tag. I know there are many that hate internet memes, and I would wager that most people tagged like this start off ranting about the concept.  I have to actually thank Len who through doing so kicked me into gear in the world of blogging.  Six months from now, when this blog is stale, I’ve got writer’s block, and I’ve lost sleep trying to figure out what to write next, I’ll write my post about "Len Devanna is the Anti-Christ."  I’ve already started that one in draft mode…

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get busy livin’ …

Shawshank_3 Welcome to my blog.  I am hopeful it will add value, provide intelligent discourse and be worth everyone’s time to actually read it.  I will do my best to make it compelling and hope that it opens my eyes to a whole new world of using the internet.  I hope I feel like Andy Dufresne emerging from prison.  Or at least like Red walking up the beach in Mexico.  Chances are some of this stuff will be entertaining, some will be useless, some will be funny, some will be garbage.  In the end I hope that we all get something out of it.

I’ve been in technology consulting my entire career, most of it with Accenture, a large firm chock full of amazing and talented people.  I have worked with some amazing clients over the years, mostly Fortune 500 companies who are taking on large-scale implementations of ERP (SAP and Oracle), CRM, Enterprise portals, and Data Warehouses.   I left Accenture at the end of 2006 to embark on another chapter, joining the ranks of Brulant based in Beachwood, OH.  Brulant is an interactive marketing agency with over 300 people but a significant departure from the structure, rigor and methodology of the Big 4 consulting firms.  At Brulant I have been able to immerse myself in eCommerce, interactive marketing and social media.

My intent for this blog is to share my experiences on what makes those projects great, what makes them difficult and what has inspired me to continue pushing through them – and most importantly get your pinput.  In the meantime, some Red Sox/Patriots/Celtics may work it’s way in here.  Not to mention living life in zone defense with 3 boys at home.

Thanks for finding me and I look forward to the journey.  (man, am I already sounding that pretentious?)