Is Facebook Becoming Too Fragmented?

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So today Facebook launched yet another stand-alone mobile app, this one called simply “Poke“. If you’ve used the social network for any amount of time, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term associated with Facebook as “poking” another person as a way to “nod your head” or a “wink”.

However with the recent rise of the app called “snap chat”, Facebook saw an opportunity to upgrade its poke service (ie. outright rip-off snapchat) and build its own app for sending self-destructing messages.

Now that on its own isn’t that big of a deal. You’re either into the app or you’re not. But the bigger problem in my eyes is that this is the FIFTH individual, stand-alone  mobile app Facebook has released to be used with its social network. It’s ONE social network.

Besides their original Facebook app (1), there’s the Messenger app (2), the Pages app (3), the Camera app (4), and now the Poke app (5). all 5 apps essentially take you to Facebook, but in slightly different ways. Why does a company with all those resources feel the need to fragment its user experience? Especially when the user experience is all they have, and if they lose that, users move on. What does it mean for marketers, of even Facebook itself trying to market to its user base, but its base is using all these different apps to interact in some way?

An interview with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg back in 2010 quoted him, in regards to the fragmentation of mobile, as saying “It’s kind of a disaster right now. I really hope that the direction that this stuff goes in is one where there’s more of a standard“. Interesting considering that now Facebook itself seems to be adding to the fragmentation of itself with too many apps.

The last thing a social network wants to do is make it frustrating, or confusing to spend time on their network. And even though everyone can just use the main app and forget the others, there is a sense of anxiety to some users that feel they must be missing something if they don’t use them all to some extent, and that could lead to burning them out. So the question remains; what is Facebook thinking releasing all these apps? Why not integrate all these seemingly minute features into a single app?

Image courtesy: AlwaysOn


Facebook Fans Don’t Really Care. Why Not?

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Since online advertising began, marketers made a mistake by deciding on the “click” as a measure of success. As they say: “history always repeats itself”, and it appears that’s about to happen in regards to social media success. For the past few years brands have been bragging about large Facebook “likes” on their pages and acting as though those are somehow relevant to a prosperous return.

That fairly assumed theory took a huge blow earlier this year when General Motors, an automotive and advertising giant, pulled their $10 million dollar advertising account with Facebook stating simply that Facebook ads don’t work.

The news, albeit unexpected, isn’t entirely surprising considering studies are coming to light stating that only about 1% of Facebook “fans” actually engage with the brand on the biggest social media outlet. Other studies are surfacing stating the average Facebook fan engagement is actually around 6%.

While there’s a big difference between 1% and 6%, there’s no confusion on the fact that “very few” of the “likes” are turning into actual, engaging, red blooded brand ambassadors. That’s not a healthy percentage when for example, using the General Motors example, large companies are dumping upwards of $40 million dollars into Facebook marketing.  Apparently they didn’t think that 1%, or even 6% of those “fans” were returning a large enough margin greater than $40 million to continue to reach out to them in an advertising sense.

That certainly doesn’t mean that General Motors is going to stop using Facebook. Actually quite the contrary. GM just feels that real brand engagement on their actual branded pages will “talk” and “listen” to their customers, and have the same, if not greater effect on its customers. I would have to agree.

Brands need to be aware of the social aspect of social media and not just pump out updates to their brand pages and ignore, or in some cases block, real user posts. It’s a two-way street and if used correctly can turn an otherwise bland Facebook page into a lively, engaging outlet for customers, both present and future. If the brand shows that it cares about its Facebook page, the fans will care too.

Facebook Gets Filthy Rich, Doesn’t Thank You

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Facebook doesn’t sell cars, or mobile phones, or even social games. Facebook’s entire inventory consists of personal data-yours and mine. Facebook made $3.2 billion in advertising revenue last year, 85 percent of its total revenue, by selling ad space to companies that want to reach its one billion+ users. Advertisers choose key words or details — like relationship status, location, activities, favorite books and employment — and then Facebook runs the ads for the targeted subset of its users.

There’s been some recent backlash about Facebook’s most recent revenue play – the charge companies with large followings. They tried to charge Mark Cuban $3000 to reach a little over 1 million of his Maverick fans. That’s right, Facebook wants to charge businesses to reach their own fans. It’s called Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm and people seem to hate it. “According to the developers, the system is not unlike Google’s system for ranking search results, dictating what content will appear at the top of each user’s news feed based on a sliding scale of relevance

Facebook might be the mega-social-network and everyone seems to be on it, but let’s not forget that we’re all playing in the walled garden and the gardener controls who gets the sunshine. We’re all seeing less updates from those companies we once did, and more of what Facebook thinks we want to see, or what is paid for us to see more. Either way Facebook keeps getting filthy rich and doesn’t bother thanking you.

Does a Viral Video Actually Boost Sales?

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Every marketing team from every company only dreams of possessing the next viral sensation for their brand. Viral videos, as they are called, are few and far between. Here’s a list of the 20 most viral ads of 2012. Can you guess who is in the number 1 spot? No, it’s not Psy’s “Gangnam Style” video, even though that has become the record holder on YouTube with over 800 million views. Why not? Because it’s not an ad. And most viewed is not most shared.

Below is a video for Kony 2012; the most shared video of 2012. It’s a 30-minute controversial  video released by the little-known non-profit organization Invisible Children Inc, racking up a combined 15 million views on Vimeo and YouTube in just 48 hours! However, when the buzz was at its peak, the controversy started, claiming the video “oversimplified the conflict”, and the buzz started to dissipate rather quickly. Still, the stats cannot be ignored. “Kony 2012” might not have been selling goods, but it certainly raised awareness, and FAST.

So what we see here is a viral video isn’t creating in an attempt to sell you a physical product. But it can also sell you an idea, an opinion or a stance on a matter of interest.

What about viral video’s looking to entertain you and sell you a product? For instance the Old Spice campaign featuring the shirtless Isaiah Mustafa.

Interesting video right? Does it make you want to smell like him? Ether way, it was initially reported that the new viral campaign(s) boosted sales, but it turns out there may have been a different reason for the boost in sales; coupons – and numbers never lie. Two-for-one coupons offered by P&G were a much better spur to drive products out the door than Mr. Mustafa.

The overriding theme to viral videos appears to be it is best in raising awareness for a brand than it is in actually selling a product. Or perhaps the product and the viral video need to be more closely connected. The Old Spice campaign could have been just as popular selling a white horse or a pair of khaki’s than it was selling body wash.

Product Placement Advertising is Here to Stay

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Product placement advertising has been around for decades, along with paid advertisements and paid editorials. However consumers are savvier than ever when it comes to marketing. They want it. They need it. But they don’t want to feel they are forced to accept it. Imagine where the iPod, iPhone or iPad would be today without marketing.

If you stop a consumer on the street, they might tell you that they hate the so-called marketing machine, or marketing “hype”. And while there is a fine line between undo hype and promoting the truth, consumers don’t want to be taken for a ride any more with claims of the extraordinary on a below average product.

As millions couldn’t help but notice on Fox’s “New Girl” episode last week,  there was a giant product placement ad built-in to the script. See if you can find it in this image to the right.

Yea, I thought you might see that. Ford was hoping you couldn’t miss it either. As in-your-face as that product placement might have seemed, I thought it was pretty well done and written into the script nicely. It’s all perception but the scenario was conceivable enough.

Let’s keep in mind that it’s nothing new to the world of film-television or movies. Lest we not forget the mega-blockbuster Transformer movie franchise that is filled to the brim with vehicles from General Motors, including the famous “Bumblebee” yellow Camaro, which GM reportedly plunked down a cool $3 million for the exclusive rights.

There’s plenty of examples of product placement in movies, from Will Smith’s Converse shoes or Audi care from the movie iRobot, to Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan hearing “You’ve Got Mail!” in 1998. Last but not least, the Cola wars between Coca-Cola on American Idol and now Pepsi on the X-Factor. It’s a multi-million dollar gamble-forcing brands into entertainment programming-but savvy marketers are winning the battle to get eyeballs on their products.

What’s your thoughts on product placement in your entertainment programming?




What Does the Social Television Mean to You?

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Social television is a general term for technology that supports communication and social interaction in either the context of watching television, or related to TV content. More people are using tablets and mobiles alongside TV to watch events, but what’s the secret to a successful ‘second screen’ experience?

We are hearing hear more and more about this ‘second screen experience‘ – a phrase that means you are on your mobile or tablet while the main screen, that big beautiful television you probably paid big money for, hasn’t fully captured your attention. But is that a fair statement? Is the TV’s fault or the content providers fault?

Answer to that will be dependent on the individual, but what we have learned over the past few years is that viewers constantly fiddle with their mobile devices, either laptops, mobile phones, or tablets, while watching television. Venture Beat says: “For the past 80 years TV has been a one-way broadcast communication. But the promise of social TV is that the audience will engage with each other (and with advertisers and show producers). Television won’t remain a one-way medium.”

I will admit that I am typically on my laptop while watching television, however for me personally, I am almost never talking about the show I’m currently watching, because well…I’m trying to watch the show! The only thing that comes to mind is watching a NASCAR race or an NFL game in which I’ll be on Facebook cheering on my team(s). Also, frequently I’m looking up an actor from a television show I’m watching. That’s about it.

The trend that I’m seeing currently from networks such as Discovery Channel is “reloading” shows, like American Chopper and Gold Rush, with bonus footage and viewer tweets added seamlessly into the broadcast. I don’t know who finds this interesting, but I for one, do not. Why do I want to re-show the entire show in hopes to see my tweet on the screen for a few seconds? Or spend my time trying to speed read other peoples tweets from a show that was on days ago? Makes no sense to me personally. But I digress.

One feature I do love is Amazon’s new X-Ray feature that allows a viewer/reader to simply tap an actor in a movie, or a word on the screen of their Kindle Fire and it will bring up information about that subject/actor instantly. This  a brilliant feature that works best in tablet form. I imagine this being less intuitive on a television across the room.

What’s your thoughts on second screen viewing and the prevalence of  the Smart TV with social media integration?


Information Overload in the 21st Century


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As the image above so eloquently describes, we are living in a world of distraction. What we once craved, more information, has since been over-corrected into a culture of information overload, thanks to the internet, 24 hour news channels and smartphones.

Some of us are more effected than others, but I think we all are touched by it in some way, especially college students like us. We’re constantly online researching, writing, creating and consuming content. It’s what we do. It’s amazing we get anything done at all actually. Even while I create this post, I have Facebook open, as well as about six other tabs in my browser, my email and even iTunes. How many tabs and programs do you have open right now as you read this? The fact that we do actually get our work done is a tribute to our unwavering focus to the task at hand.

Infogineering says:

The first recorded use of the phrase “information overload” was used by the futurologist Alvin Toffler in 1970, when he predicted that the rapidly increasing amounts of information being produced would eventually cause people problems.

Although people talk about “living in the information age,” written information has been used for thousands of years. The invention of the Printing Press a few hundred years ago made it possible to distribute written information to large amounts of people. However, it is only with the advent of modern computers that the ability to create, duplicate and access vast amounts of information has created Information Overload amongst the general population.

The root of the problem is that, although computer processing and memory is increasing all the time, the humans that must use the information are not getting any faster. Effectively, the human mind acts as a bottleneck in the process.

As humans we have engineered code and algorithms and programs to help the computer decipher information more quickly for us, or better organized, however we still have to consume it eventually. Or do we?

A few ways to avoid information overload is to refrain from doing too many things at once. Stop multi-tasking for the sake of multi-tasking and either single task or prioritize it more efficiently. Also, cut back on consuming information “for the fun of it” and consume what “you need to know” at the given time.

It’s far too easy to overdo it in this world of information excess. Information relates to food in that moderation is key.

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