What shall be next for Facebook?

Letter to Mark Zuckerberg:

Dear Mark,

It is pictures, text and videos that we share and engage around. And as you correctly know our usage of “the always on web” (a.k.a. mobile) is increasing.

For pictures (& always on web) Instagram is a good acquisition (don’t forget the pin-boards issue though). For videos the need still exists, I am sure you guys are working on that.

However, maybe a more important but an overlooked area is the text. Yes, you did a good acquisition in terms of IP with Friendfeed and nailed the short text. But that was only for short texts. However, to nail texts fully you need to find a solution for our need to share longer (and many picture/video embedded) texts.

You know well who are the driving force of social networks; “thought leaders”. And the tool for most of the thought leaders is long text.

Let’s wait and see how Instagram acquisition goes. If that is the effective way, go acquire a blog system, if not develop in house a better tool.

I would have loved to see all WordPress functionality embedded in Facebook.

Please, act fast though. Your competition is not the companies, but the time we are losing as a society on inefficient ways of communication.

Best,

Mehmet Subasi

Social Media & Sex

tweets coming from iStrategy event in Amsterdam are making analogy of social media & sex somehow. Below you can find creative definitions for social media.
Top 3 quotweets from #iStrategy on Social Media & Sex are:

Number 1) from: @janrezab
Social media is like teen sex. Everybody wants to do it. Nobody knows how.
Number 2) from: @pennypower
Blogging is like masturbation, it can be a great release but can also make a hell of a mess.
Number 3) from: @DaveNClarke
Social media is like sex, it could be over in a few seconds but could have a lifetime of consequences.

PR Strategy of Facebook

I was just listening to Hill & Knowlton’s Global Technology Practice Director Joshua Reynolds who had the chance to work with Mark Zuckerberg in 2007 &2008 on Facebook’s PR.
He shared a short story on PR Strategy of Facebook which i wanted to share.
When defining your company keep this short story in mind:
“Mark didn’t define Facebook”. Joshua said: “Mark, you have to have a vision of what Facebook is”.
“But Mark hired 1000’s of programmers and throw stuff, he let the world tell him what Facebook was”.
“He was right.”

Other highlights from Joshua Reynolds speech;
– intel invested $9USD billon on intel inside campaign (My take: Be realistic on your expectations & budgets when starting a campaign)
– B2B social media is picking up big (My take: #didntitellyou)

Planning & Designing Facebook Promotions

Facebook made a change to its Promotions Guidelines this week. The big news is; there is no longer a requirement to obtain approval from Facebook to run a promotion entirely within Facebook.

The two major changes are;

1) No need for prior written Facebook approval to administer a promotion on Facebook.

This makes life for brands much easier. According to Wildfire Blog:

“Previously, in order to administer a promotion inside of Facebook, you had to either obtain explicit approval from a Facebook representative, or else run your promotion in two parts by  ”publicizing” it in a tab on Facebook but “administering” it (collecting submissions or entries, conducting the drawing, judging winning entries, or notifying winners) off of Facebook. But now, there is no need to obtain approval to administer the entire promotion inside of Facebook, so users participating in your promotions will remain inside of the Facebook environment by default throughout the entire process flow of the promotion (and do not need to be taken to microsite to submit their data). This is great news because generally promotions that are run entirely in Facebook have better conversions (i.e. higher entry rates) and higher rates of sharing (via newsfeeds and friend invites) than those that are only publicized in Facebook but administered via a microsite.”

2) No need for a minimum media spending to support the promotion.

This is also a good news for brands. It is now easier for marketing people to get their promotion campaign approved internally and gives the ability to plan smaller size / focused test promotions..

But keep in mind that all promotions are still subject to Facebook Promotion Guidelines and the following types of promotions are still not allowed:

  • Photo contests which require profile photo manipulation
  • Status update contests which require posting status updates for entry
  • Contest entries once a user has become a fan

See AllFacebook article:  Facebook Promotions No Longer Need Explicit Approval From Facebook

How to Aim Plan & Execute your Groupon Campaign!

The Groupon Trilogy – Groupon for Dummies

The Groupon trilogy is a set of tree articles focusing on using group buying campaigns successfully as a marketer.

The set will introduce Radical Marketers to effectively use this new campaign tool in their companies / on their brands. However, this trilogy is just the entry for using online group campaigns, we can call it “101 for Designing Group Campaigns” or “Groupon for Dummies”.

The tree articles on this set are;

Aim your Groupon Campaign – Top Five Reasons to Offer a Groupon Promotion

Plan your Promotion – 4 things to plan before designing a Groupon promotion

Execute your Campaign effectively – 12 Secrets to turn your Groupon Campaign a Success

If you are interested in more advanced consultancy on these topics, you always know, where to find it 😉

Here, you can find the complete set as an eBook (pdf booklet) for free download.

12 Secrets to turn your Groupon Campaign a Success

How to set-up / execute a Groupon offering?

The so called group buying phenomenon which was fueled by Groupon.com created a new way of promotion. However, it is unfortunate to see some companies failing terribly on group buying promotions. As the recent study from Rice University (Utpal Dholakia) reports 32% of all campaigns on Groupon are unprofitable for businesses*.

On my earlier articles; I talked about the aim & plan of group buying campaigns. The last article on Groupon trilogy is this one which focuses on the execution of the group buying promotion.

Below, you can find the top 12 tactics that you should remember when setting up and executing your group buying campaign:

1)    Have a correct reason (see Top five reasons you should offer a Groupon promotion)

2)    Think about your brand value and positioning; if your business has a luxury perception (i.e. your regular restaurants clients value the ambiance and they are here for people watching and are insulted by the bargain shopper clientele) and make sure you are not destroying value with this campaign

3)    Don’t expect to produce repeat customers with your group buying promotion (You are getting “deal chasers”, 59% of the clients will not spending beyond your promotions face value and 75% of the Groupon clients will not buy full price at your company in the future*)

4)    It’s very important to know the medium before utilizing it, therefore, first purchase & use a promotion as a buyer and if possible talk to somebody who offered a Groupon promotion before

5)    Cannibalization has to be low; if you think most of your customers are on Groupon, don’t even bother giving a group promotion (cannibalization of your current sales will not only hurt you financially, on top of it, the lower price will destroy your perceived value)

6)    Cover your variable costs, make your financial analysis correct, don’t get bankrupt

7)    Make sure your quality doesn’t drop; If the increased utilization with Groupon clients will lower the quality of your service or product, then you might suffer even more in the long run, due to this promotion

8)    Focus on employee morale (higher utilization will increase the work load; lower tipping in case of service might be another problem)

9)    Train your workforce for the new “deal chaser” crowd; frictions between stuff & Groupon clients might lead to negative customer feedbacks on the web

10) Be careful on multiple uses of promotions (re-printing); it is a good idea to create a code database and checking code before usage (i.e. at reservation stage)

11) Target your campaign correctly; if you are providing value to a geographic region understand the geographical focus of the group buying site you are using. Are national buyers a disaster for you? Answer this question before you set-up your campaign

12) Be careful if you have given other promotions; even though you made it crystal clear that other promotions or offers are not valid, the “deal chaser” crowd will upset you by requesting multiple promotions. This will both have its impacts on employee morale and customer satisfaction as mentioned above (A large printed clause on this, close to cash register, will be very useful)

* Based on Groupon Effectiveness Study by Utpal Dholakia – Rice University, Sep 28 2010

Four Things to plan before designing Groupon promotion

How to plan a Groupon promotion?

Yesterday, I wrote about the top reasons to offer a group buying campaign / promotion. If your goal is one of the top 5 mentioned, you can possibly get positive returns from your offer. However, you need to do some planning before the campaign. Below you can find the 4 most important issues on planning a group buying promotion:

1)    Define your Goal (see see Top five reasons you should offer a Groupon promotion) if non of those are your reasons, think twice before designing your campaign

2)    Plan for minimum cannibalization; Talk to your customers, try to get a rough estimate on how many percent are “deal chasers” using group buying sites. If you think it is more than half, forget about the campaign (cannibalization of your current sales will not only hurt you financially, on top of it; the lower price will destroy your perceived value)

3)    If you are structuring the deal as a trial, have a plan / next step for your “trial” customers. How will you benefit from the trial? What is your next step to convert these trial clients into profitable customers? if you don’t have a solid plan and a great product/service, it is hard to get a positive return

4)    Do the financial analysis. Make sure your offer is at least higher priced than the variable costs (like supplies). Even if you are using the deal as an advertisement for higher awareness, make sure the costs will not get out of control.

Top Five Reasons to Offer a Groupon Promotion

Why to use a group buying campaign / promotion?

If you do not have a valid reason and strategy behind your actions, this tool, like all other tools for web marketing, will backfire on your business. You should first have a valid reason for utilizing a group buying campaign. Below, you can find the top 5 most suitable reasons for offering a group buying promotion:

1)    Selling excess capacity; if you have a huge inventory or low capacity utilization, group buying sites can be great for you to utilize your production capacity

2)    Advertising for awareness; if structured well (low cannibalization, covering variable costs, and not destructing the perceived value much), group buying models are the best awareness tool that you can use

3)    Giving a trial to an excellent but not very well known product/service; if you believe in your product very much, and think the customers will be back, no matter the price point, then this is a great way to make your trial known (make it clear to your users, this is only a trial pricing)

4)    The Refill Model (the model utilized by firms like Gillette & HP likes); sell the main products on group buying sites and the customers has to buy refills from you in the future

5)    Cyclic / Seasonal business promotions; if your sector suffers from seasonality this is a great way to increase utilization on low seasons (make sure that the promotions are only for low seasons)

The measurement game

Last month I wrote about some problems in “Measuring Marketing Performance“. This time another problem surfaced the web on TechMeme.

Again and again we hear about wrong “success stories” with misunderstood performance indicators within the sector or on media.
The Foursquare success story for McDonald’s even made the headlines for NewYork Times. In most cases when you hear a story, simply the numbers don’t add up. In this case foursquare check-ins were mistakenly used as foot traffic increase to all McDonalds stores.
Even though these might seem like a good way to impress the boss or client, there will always be “Radical Marketers” to debunk.

4 Tactics for Social Commerce on Facebook

The biggest challenge to e-commerce in the Social Web Era is the emerging Social Commerce. With the raise of Social Commerce, Facebook is becoming the Mecca for commerce. Companies need to be fast to grab land on Facebook. Below you can find the best ways to implement Social Commerce on Facebook;

1) Integrate Facebook Like button to your product description page

This is a must for any e-Commerce site. It is easy to implement, and an instant win for any ecommerce site. Also, it is the most used tactic already on eCommerce sites.

2) Advertise on Facebook to drive traffic directly to your product pages

Paid advertising on Social media is often mixed with social media activities. However, it is a totally different discipline and is much easier to set up and run than any social media activity. However, remember following four advise when advertising on Facebook;

  • Don’t let your online media planner run static / boring advertising on this media. Facebook advertising should be managed in savvy hands who have a good understanding on advertising on Facebook
  • You should understand that the real cost on Facebook advertising doesn’t lie on the amounts paid to the media, but costs are in managing the campaigns in the required detail with a savvy team
  • Automated solutions can help you reduce costs, but don’t try to lower your managing budget with automated solutions and cut on headcount for managing the campaigns, because automated solutions when not audited can cause much more harm than help
  • Manage product launches differently than your everyday campaigns; don’t fall into the basic mistake of stopping or modifying everyday campaigns during product launches. Also keep in mind that during a product launch a social media activity backed with advertising is much more effective than just advertising on social media

3) Use Facebook Login for your e-Commerce site

Facebook Login is a great way to authenticate people on your eCommerce site. This functionality does not only enable the easy sharing of thoughts and likes on your products, but is also a great win if you want to increase your user base fast. It is an ease of use for visitors in order to quickly login to your site in one click.

4) Build your eCommerce application on Facebook

Companies are planning to develop their own applications on Facebook. An e-Commerce application on Facebook has three major advantages,

  • Presence: Your customer is already there (They don’t come to your web site every day)
  • Ease of use: There is an opportunity to increase ease of you on two dimensions; first the real ease of use by making it simple to shop, second the perceived ease of use by just being on Facebook
  • Trust: People will have less trust issues on Facebook domain than your company-specific domain to share their information with you

These three advantages will increase your potential buyers, since there is a target population who find it difficult to shop on different sites or are still afraid to shop online from e-commerce sites. For any online retailer with serious online revenue eCommerce application on Facebook is a great way to increase sales.

If you have not already applied social commerce tactics for your company or are resisting social commerce reality, please see the data below. Both are recent (June, 2010) survey results of US online marketers on Social Plug-ins & Social Commerce plans.

1) Facebook Social Plug-ins implemented by online marketers
2) Facebook Social Commerce Plans for online marketers


The 4th Era of Internet is starting

We are again in the midst of a new evolution. There is another change of era on the internet. Like the Chinese curse says: “May you live in interesting times!” The new era will bring new challenge to each one of us, not to mention the major effects on marketers.
We can divide the internet age into four era:
1) Academic Internet Era (before 1993)
Enabling technology: the internet infrastructure
2) The Browsable Web Era (1993 to 1999/2000)
Enabling technology: world wide web
3) The Searchable Web Era (2000 to 2010)
Enabling technology: Google Search
4) The Mobile & Social Web Era ( 2010 to …)
Enabling technology: Apple (iPad/iPhone) & Facebook Like
All the new era’s on the internet brought it’s own winners and losers and new business models to the internet. The fourth era, however is even more challenging. The change is on two axis; the mobility (always on mechanism), and the social aspects of the internet. This era will not only bring it’s own winners and losers and business models, but will also touch the DNA of capitalism, democracy and the society. It will touch every company, every political party, every government, every NGO, every family much deeper.
The big change that the 4th era is bringing is the social aspect which will change our habits of consuming the internet. Web will not be ranked to Google’s algorithm anymore, but with our friends choices (that is “Facebook Like” functionality).
Pete Cashmore of Mashable takes it even further saying; “Facebook seeks to replace this open system of links between pages with the “social links” (or Likes) that it controls. Google and other search engines won’t have full access to all these Likes, so the company best positioned to rank the Web will be Facebook.” (see the full article on CNN: Google’s nightmare: Facebook ‘Like’ replaces links )
PS. The bad voices against Facebook and its somehow “ethically challenged” founder Mark Zuckerberg are also to note. I hope Facebook will be in the hands of good management and it will be an enabling catalysator to this new evolution.

How to buy Promoted Tweets

Twitter announced its new ad serving platform; Promoted Tweets.

The details can be found on;

  • NY Times article “Twitter Unveils Plans to Draw Money From Ads”
  • AdAge article “Twitter Has a Business Model: ‘Promoted Tweets’ “
  • TechCrunch article “Full Details On Twitter’s Long-Awaited Ad Platform: Promoted Tweets”

These articles state that, initial ad partners include Best Buy, Virgin America, Starbucks, and Bravo. It seems like you can not advertise without being a partner yet.

How to buy Promoted Tweets is still a question mark. Please share, if you have any information on “How to buy Promoted Tweets”.

Effective usage of Social Media

Unfortunately, Social Media is used poorly and ineffectively by many of us. Today’s article “the social media bubble” on HBR blog by Umair Haque was mentioning some of the points that we were discussing with companies which wanted to enter the social media space in their marketing efforts.

I agree with most of Umair’s comments;

  • There is relationship inflation and many relations are thin on the social media
  • On trust & value issues there are problems in usage of social media (by both the marketers and the general consumers)

Yes; most of the relations on social media are thin, yes; most marketers don’t understand and make a bubble out of social media. However, if you know how to build trust & value, you can also build these online on social media. Just because we cannot use social media effectively doesn’t mean that social media is a bubble. We need radical marketers and C-level involvement to make things happen in the social media space.

As I wrote before; “It is amazing how many people in the marketing area are looking at social marketing from a very narrow angle.

Umair’s final remarks are where I agree the most; “The promise of the Internet wasn’t merely to inflate relationships, without adding depth, resonance, and meaning. It was to fundamentally rewire people, communities, civil society, business, and the state — through thicker, stronger, more meaningful relationships. That’s where the future of media lies.”

Business executives must understand the future of media and should avoid involving their companies and brands in the social media bubble.

You can see my earlier blog entry on social media at “Social Marketing is not a tactic”

Best Web Projects

Best web projects are the ones with the best Web Project Management

Couple years ago, an eConsultancy study found  that nearly half of all respondents (45.5%) do not have a structured approach to managing their web projects. You can reach the study at Web Project Management: Best Practice Reports . This was in May, 2007 , unfortunately not much has changed so far.

As the report correctly states;

“Companies without a structured approach are the least likely to achieve their project goals, least likely to deliver customer satisfaction, are least able to deal with change during the course of the project and are less likely to achieve deadlines, meet budgets and deliver positive ROI.”

The difference between the “visionary” marketing managers and the “doers” is;

First, a good understanding of the web (the team members must be living in the new web)

And second, a good team with a project management skills (of course this comes with web project experience)

Your team with good project management skills will be using probably a good project management system as well. Below are the Top 10 open source web project management softwares by CyberCiti;

1: Codendi
2: Redmine
3: ProjectPier
4: Trac
5: Project HQ
6: Collabtive
7: eGroupWare
8: KForge
9: OpenGoo
10: ClockingIT

See the complete list and download information at: Top 10 Open Source Web-Based Project Management Software

Customer Service is the New PR

Steve Rubel named the new phenomenon shortly and simply in six words; Customer Service is the New PR.

Echoing on Rubel, Carol Cole-Lewis states in her article; “When I worked in the marketing department for Lexmark in the UK, we made a case for including Customer Service personnel in our department, rather than in technical support. We were right then, and we’d be more than right now.”

It is so right. I was trying to explain this to companies for the last 10 years (unfortunately not in these 6 simple words). Internet put the Customer Service process in front of all our customers, and social media become the new catalyst for customer service experiences (to spread faster on the internet).

Today, all the research reports that highly influential consumers are using social media channels to share their personal customer service experiences and learn about others’ care experiences when making purchase decisions.

You can also see one of these researches at; SNCR Study, 2008. (Please note; unfortunatelly, this study is removed from site, contact me in case you really need detailed info).