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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Facebook Is The New Internet, Or Is It?

For many people online in 2011 Facebook is the internet and viceversa. This as I've written previously can be problematic, as it is a closed social media platform at variance with the open philosophy of the the Net itself.

But businesses are pragmatic, they have to be, and so more and more of them are building Facebook pages in the belief that a 'like' will turn into purchase intent.

Market Sentinel puts the dampener on this belief.  They found that:

  • Facebook Ads don't work for brands with small click through rates of 0.011-0.165%
  • Facebook Fan Pages don't work for brands with the number of “core fans” (fans who have commented more than average for the Page) being far lower than the actual fan count. For example while Lady Gaga has 39 million plus fans, only 1,231 could be counted as "core fans".
    The core fan count is calculated by the average number of posts-per-contributing fan.
    Because of the way Facebook works a fan needs to actively participate in a brand’s Facebook Page their activity needs to be continuous, otherwise status updates for the brand will cease appearing in the fan’s Facebook stream.
  • While Facebook apps should work for brands they often don't as brands are reliant upon people installing them, being prepared to share data with the brand and companies often don't provide a lead-in opportunity to purchase through the app.
Before you ditch your Facebook Business Page and revert back to paper and pencil, the above findings need to be balanced by the fact that many businesses do indeed find their Facebook Page a more than useful platform for building brand awareness and offering incentives.

A business needs to clearly define its Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) for the use of Facebook and other social media to truly determine its Return On Investment (ROI).

Fans are also a fickle bunch as this chart proves. DDB Paris and OpinionWay surveyed 1,528 Facebook users and found that 630 of them clicked the unlike link on a page; that's two out of every five.

Source: DDB

Meanwhile Facebook itself is working upon improving granularity to its “Like” concept. New buttons called “Listened,” “Read,” and “Watched" are about to be added and social commerce buttons such as “Want” will follow soon after the roll-out of the aforementioned new buttons.

And clearly unfazed by the recent debacle of MySpace, Rupert Murdoch's recent acquisition, the Wall Street Journal has just launched an app of its own.

So now within Facebook itself you can read, comment and share content with other Facebook users.

And you can choose which editorial content interests you most by adding or deleting the Top Editors from your preferences list. Within the app, a user has the ability to subscribe to different content, curated both by other users and by the WSJ itself.

As  Maya Baratz puts it in an interview with Niemanlab:

"You can’t rely on users coming to you anymore. WSJ is navigating the content within the app around people, making every user an editor. WSJ Social is about elevating the role of people as curators of content. When you walk into the app, you have this very curated publication"

The official press release goes further quoting Alisa Bowen, the WSJ's Digital Network general manager:

"We’re breaking the mold of using Facebook simply to drive traffic to our websites and are now creating an opportunity to engage with the Journal directly on the Facebook platform. WSJ Social creates a more integrated experience for users and innovative opportunities for advertisers." 

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