Tagged: Facebook

TechCrunch Disrupt: putting disruption in front of success

TechCrunch Disrupt is “the world’s leading authority in debuting revolutionary startups, introducing game-changing technologies, and discussing what’s top of mind for the tech industry’s key innovators.”  It ran its 2015 show in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago and Carole Cadwalladr from the Guardian/Observer wrote this excellent piece entitled “Is the dotcom bubble about to burst (again)”.

As well as the bubble angle, Carole also focused on the disrupt angle implicit in the event’s title and noted the extent to which the D word is inserted into all the pitches.  The logic here appears to be: 1) look at the businesses that have become successful and that we wish to emulate 2) identify a common characteristic of all of these success stories, i.e. that they were all disruptive 3) reach the conclusion that disruption is therefore the key to success.

Wrong conclusion.  Continue reading

Swimmers ‘failing’ at mountain climbing says Brandwatch study

FireShot Screen Capture #217 - 'Retailers 'failing' on Facebook and Twitter, says Brandwatch study I PR Week' - www_prweek_com_article_1333814_retailers-failing-facebook-twitter-says-brandwatch-studyHere is a report on research from Brandwatch that I think neatly encapsulates where many brands have got to in terms of understanding and using social media.  OK, so it doesn’t actually say that swimmers are failing at mountain climbing, it says are that retailers are ‘failing’ on Facebook and Twitter because they are failing to listen and respond to their audiences.  But it may as well talk about swimmers and mountains because while it has identified the failure bit, it has reached the wrong conclusion about why the failure is occuring or what to do about it.

The failure is one of defining the challenge, it is not a failure of insufficient activity.  The challenge in the social media space is defined by behaviour identifiction and response (i.e. it is all about swimming).  The challenge in the traditional media / marketing space was all about channel and message, reach and frequency (i.e. mountain climbing).  So while Brandwatch correctly identified the problem i.e. failure to listen and respond it didn’t realise this was happening because it was positioned against the wrong challenge.  In effect the article is saying “you are failing to swim up this mountain, but if you flayed your arms about more frequently and thrashed your legs more vigourously you would be more successful .”  True enough, but you wouldn’t be that much more successful.  What the article should really say is “you are failing at swimming, but that is because you are trying to climb a mountain rather than cross a lake”.  Right activity, wrong context.  If swimming is what it is all about, look for a lake, don’t look for a mountain.

In reality, the reason most brands are not responding effectively is because this is not what they got into social media to do.  Listening and response is seen as the rather awkward consequence of being in the social media space.  It is seen as a cost that needs to be paid in order to fulfill the ambition of spreading their content far and wide and maximising  ‘engagement’ with their audience.  And like all costs, it should therefore be kept to a minimum.

Social media is entirely a behaviour identification and response challenge.  It is not a channel and message / reach and frequency challenge.  Listening and response is not a cost, it is the source of value creation.  Most brands haven’t really grasped this yet – but at least they are starting to realise that what they are doing has a problem (sort of).

 

 

 

Don’t blame Facebook: it is simply killing what was always a stupid idea

Let’s be honest.  Using a brand Facebook page to reach your consumer audience was always a stupid idea.  Organic reach, as it is now called, has always been a waste of time.  It hasn’t been Facebook and its actions over time which has made it so.  By finally making Facebook a pay-to-pay venue, Facebook has simply done the decent thing and killed something that should never have been brought to life in the first place.

Now Facebook’s motives for doing this can be questioned.  They say it is to improve the user experience, I say it is to improve the shareholder experience – but that is a subject for a whole new (old) post.

Facebook has form in this respect.  When it introduced Timeline a few years back it killed off the idea that the objective for brands was to try and make your Facebook page look like your website.  Do you remember that time?  We even had respected digital consultancies lauding those brands that had overcome the ‘static format’ of Facebook in order to create ‘brilliant’ Facebook pages.  I guess the logic went like this: here is this thing called Facebook which we don’t really understand.  Here is this thing called a website which we do understand.  Make our Facebook page look like our website and ‘hey prestos’ we can therefore understand Facebook.  Stupid, but none-the-less a lot of digital agencies made a lot of money helping brands do this – so not so stupid from someone’s perspective I guess.

Again, Facebook said it did this to allow users to tell and record their life stories within Facebook.  I say they did that to encourage users to input more data into Facebook – but that is the subject for a whole new (old) post.

Social media is not a space where audiences naturally exist.  Creating audiences in social media is always going to be a fruitless task.  Engagement rates with brand Facebook pages have always been miniscule, expressed as a percentage of your total ‘target’ audience (this dates back way before Facebook started making it difficult to create ‘engagement’ with ‘organic’ posts).  Social media is not a medium of distribution, it is a medium of connection.  The name of the game is not channel and message / reach and frequency – it is about behaviour identification and response.  The world of social media is a world of the individual, not a world of the audience.  Traditional media is a high reach but low engagement space, social media is a low reach but high engagement space.  You can only use social media effectively to deal with very small numbers of people at any one time, but the value you can (must) create from these contacts therefore has to an order of magnitude greater than that when all you were doing was pushing content at them.  This has been the subject for a whole old blog.

So don’t blame Facebook for finally killing your organic Facebook engagement content brandfill nonsense strategy.  Facebook is simply doing you a favour.

Forget Ebola, Twitter has caught Ipola

SickIpola is long-term debilitating disease that frequently is contracted in the financial markets during the process of launching an IPO.

Twitter has it bad, as this recent GigaOm piece highlights, and Facebook is also suffering.

Twitter is basically comprised of an idea, some geeks and some server space.  The last of these are not precious or scarce resources and the idea is basically now a sunk cost.  Not just for Twitter, but for anything that aspires to be Twitter like.

It therefore doesn’t cost much to be Twitter (or Twitterlike).  Logically speaking therefore, the revenue opportunities for Twitter, long-term, are likely to be similarly low.  The problem for Twitter (and Facebook) is not generating sufficient revenue to cover its costs, certainly not the costs of delivering the service its users want.  Its problem is generating sufficient revenue to justify its share price.

In the chase for this revenue, an Ipola sufferer turns away from its users and focuses on marketing directors.  It tries to turn itself into a media platform or a data mine, because that is the only way it can seduce the marketing dollar.  And in the process it basically destroys what it was that made it successful in the first place.  Its vital organs start to fail.

Twitter is basically a conversation.  Take the chronology out of conversation and it stops working.

Twitter is never going to be some sort of content lillypad – which has always been its problem.  It has no real estate on which advertising dollars can settle.

Which would all be fine, if it didn’t have try and keep the boys on Wall Street happy.

Ipola is not going to kill Twitter just yet, although it is going to run a sweat.  What will kill Twitter is when the market gets infected by a competitor – and users realise how easy it is to swap, because the size of your accumulated Twitter following means nothing (because they are not actually an audience), you don’t follow handles anymore, you follow or search hashtags (in real-time), and if you do want to follow someone (or have them follow you) they are still only a click away.  Doing a factory reset on your Twitter following is basically a good thing because it means you only get the ones back which were worth anything in the first place.

The only course of treatment for Twitter (and Facebook and LinkedIn) is to recognise your stock is going to become a devalued currency when Wall Street finally realises you are never going to hit the long-term revenue expectations, so use it while it is trading at such a ridiculous premium to buy other companies that can then become the lifeboats for when the business model sinks.

Is Facebook just a ‘dark pool’?

FireShot Screen Capture #156 - 'Barclays shares tumble after allegations about private 'dark pool' trading system I Business I The Guardian' - www_theguardian_com_business_2014_jun_26_barclays-shares-tumble-dark-poolWednesday saw an important announcement from the New York Attorney General. He announced that Barclays Bank is to be prosecuted concerning their operation of a ‘dark pool’. A dark pool is basically a private trading area which a bank can operate on behalf of its clients, or anyone else to whom the bank grants access. It is dark because it doesn’t operate to the same level of transparency as conventional exchanges. The accusation is that Barclays allowed high frequency traders into their dark pool and allowed these traders to prey on the trading activity of the other investors within the pool, including Barclays’ own clients.

This is an astonishingly important announcement for two reasons: First, it is important for Wall Street but it also important for Facebook, Google, Big Data, data protection, the Internet of Things and thus, quite possibly therefore the future of humanity itself.

First Wall Street: What is happening within Barclays’ dark pool is almost certainly similar to what is happening in the dark pools operated by almost all the major banks. It is also pretty similar to what is happening in the ‘light pools’ that constitute the official Wall Street stock exchanges (just read Michael Lewis’s ‘Flash Boys’, published a few weeks ago if you want validation of this). This will therefore be a test case and rather than go after one of the Big Beasts, the Attorney General has sensibly chosen to pick off an already wounded juvenile.   Barclays is a foreign bank, it is a peripheral player (albeit one with a very large dark pool) and it is already discredited by it actions in rigging inter-bank lending rates. It is therefore easy prey, but bringing it down will provide the ammunition necessary to tackle, or at least discipline, the major players. You can bet that there are a lot of people on Wall Street right now really focused on how this case plays out, even if the mainstream media has yet to really wake-up to its significance.

But this isn’t about just about Wall Street. What is playing out here are the first attempts to understand and regulate the world of the algorithm. High frequency trading is driven by algorithms and exploits one of an algorithm’s principle characteristics, which is its speed in processing large amounts of data. High frequency trading illustrates the power of algorithms and also their potential for abuse. High frequency trading is not illegal (yet), but it is abusive. It is only not illegal because the law makers don’t really understand how algorithms work and no-one has worked out a way to stop people who do understand them from using them in an abusive way.  Interestingly the Attorney General has not tried to establish that high frequency trading is illegal, rather that Barclays misrepresented its dark pool as offering protection from the abusive behaviour of high frequency traders.

Algorithms colonised Wall Street for two reasons: first Big Data was already there in the form of the vast amount of information flowing through the financial markets and; second, Wall Street could afford to pay top-dollar for the relatively small group of geeks who actually understand algorithms. But this is about to change. The pool of geeks is expanding and pools of data, large enough for complex algorithms to operate within, are now developing in many other places, driven by the growth of Big Data and the Internet of Things.

Which brings us to Facebook. In many ways Facebook is a dark pool, except the data within it isn’t data about financial trading, it is data about human behaviour. Now I don’t want to suggest that Facebook is trading this information or necessarily inviting access to this data for organisations who are going to behave in an abusive or predatory way. In a somewhat ironic sense of role reversal, the PRISM affair has revealed that the regulators (i.e. the NSA and the UK’s GCHQ) are the equivalent of the high frequency traders. They are the people who want to get into Facebook’s dark pool of data so they can feed it through their algorithms and Facebook has been doing what (little) it can to resist their entry. But of course there is nothing at the moment to really stop Facebook (or for that matter Google or Twitter) from allowing algorithms into their data pools. In fact, we know they are already in there. While there may not be abusive activity taking place at the moment there is nothing to stop abusive behaviour from taking place, other than the rules of integrity and behaviour that Facebook and Google set for themselves or those that might be set by the people Facebook or Google allow into their pools. Remember also that Facebook needs to generate sufficient revenue to justify a valuation north of $80 billion – and it is not going to do that simply through selling advertising, it is going to do that by selling access to its pool of data. And, of course, the growth of Big Data and the Internet of Things is creating vast data pools that exist in far more shadowy and less obvious places that Google and Facebook. This is a recipe for abusive and predatory behaviour, unless the law-makers and regulators are able to get there first and set-out the rules.

Which brings us back to New York versus Barclays. It is not just Wall Street and financial regulators who need to focus on this: this could prove to be the opening skirmish in a battle that will come to define how society will operate in the world we are now entering – the world of the algorithm. I can’t lay claim to understanding how this may play out, or how we are going to regulate the world of algorithms. The only thing I do know is that the abusive use of algorithms flourishes in the dark and the daylight of transparency is their enemy. Trying to drive a regulatory stake through the heart of every abusive algorithm is a near self-defeating exercise – far better is to create an environment where they don’t have a competitive advantage.

 

The latest croissant of absurdity from the SocialBakers

Every month I receive an email from measurement / metrics company SocialBakers alerting me to the latest  league table of performance for UK Facebook pages.  I usually avoid opening this email because it depresses me, perpetuating as it does, the view that Facebook activity and social media in general is a numbers game that is all about creating the maximum number of fans and this thing called engagement.  However, this month I took a look, just to see if things were changing.  They were not.  The part of the report that always depresses me the most, remained depressing.  I have shown it below. Continue reading

The three per cent rule

3 per cent(This is a page, but it was meant to be a post.  Here is the proper post.  I have kept this page alive because people have RT’d the link, but I have hidden it from navigation)

At the end of last year I was teaching a session on social media in a masters of communication course at the London campus of the European Communication School.  In total I was lecturing to 30 students in two groups.  Most of the students were French or Belgian and in their early twenties.  At the start of the course I conducted an exercise designed to define how  people actually use Facebook, based on the students’ own experiences.   What this exercise revealed was that everyone used Facebook to keep in contact with their friends and that this activity constituted the vast majority of the time spent on Facebook.  No real surprise there.

I then looked at engagement with brands.  Of the 30, only three confessed that they used Facebook to have any sort of contact with brands and of these three, two only did this in response to some form of incentive – getting freebies, entering competitions etc.  And only one person said that they used Facebook to follow brands in any proactive way – albeit time spent doing this was very small, compared to time spent keeping in contact with friends.

I also suspect I am being generous here.  Continue reading

Should you let an agency manage your Facebook page?

Managing Facebook pages is big business for a lot of social media agencies.  In fact, it is fast becoming a staple activity.  Is this something to be encouraged?  In my opinion, absolutely not.  In fact I would go so far as to say that if you are using an agency to manage your Facebook page, this shows you haven’t yet worked out how to use social media effectively.

There are, of course, many reasons why you might want to use an agency to manage your Facebook page.  For a start, Facebook is so darn fidgety – always changing stuff, introducing new things and changing the rules of the game.  Keeping on top of what is going on at Facebook is a full-time job – so it makes perfect sense to hire an agency who is already plugged-in to the Facebook world.  Secondly, maintaining a regular stream of posting is a burden.  Creating all this ‘engaging content’ is not something the average marketing department was set up to do, whereas it is something that writers and other creative folk in the agency world do very well.

Bit here is the rub.  Do you really need to stay on-top of everything Facebook is doing?  And why do you see Facebook as so much ‘dead air’ that has to be filled with content, engaging or otherwise? Presiding over ‘dead air’ was a criminal offence in broadcast media, but Facebook is not a broadcast medium.  The idea of the need for regular posting comes out of the world of blogging, where constant refreshment created Google-juice and visibility in the digital space.  But Facebook is a closed digital world, which Google can’t penetrate.

One of the most insightful things I have ever heard about Facebook was said to me by the marketing director of a large retailer in Turkey.  She said, “I love Facebook because it tells me what people think about my latest ad.”  Unwittingly, or otherwise, she had hit the nail on the head.  You don’t use social media to carry messages to people about your brand, you use it to find out what people think about your brand.  You don’t use it to create brand ambassadors within your consumers, you use it to create consumer ambassadors within your brand.

I think the most important part of any Facebook page is the ‘post by others’ section – i.e. the part where your customers or consumers want to talk to you.  You have to ask yourself the question “why would I want someone else to be standing between me and my consumers?”  You can, of course, drop an agency into this slot, but they will never be able to give the best answers.  In fact a sure-fire sign that an agency is managing the page comes when you see the response “we are so sorry to hear you think (our brand sucks), please call our customer service hotline on this number and they will be able to help you.”  A pretty insulting response if you think about it.  You may as well be saying “you can either sit down and listen to what we have to say to you and press the applause (like) button at the right moments or you can sod-off somewhere else and find someone whose job it is to listen to your petty complaints.”  I exaggerate – but not by much.  This type of deflection response clearly says “you are in the wrong space for this type of behaviour, go away”.  And also, if your customers think that you brand sucks, or is great, or could be improved by making some changes – this information should take route one into your organisation, not be filtered through an agency.

I am frequently asked by clients or people in workshops I am running “how do we create more engagement with our Facebook posts?”  This is often followed by the supplementary “how do we deal with negative comments on our Facebook page?”   To which my answer is always “position your Facebook page as a place where you encourage people to come and complain, so that you can be seen as an organisation which takes its’ customers seriously.  Don’t position your Facebook page as some sort of interactive content platform.”

Personally, I think you can forget about the posting space in a proactive, planned sense, because no matter how engaging you make this type of planned content, it will never be engaging enough to compensate for the fact that Facebook (as with all types of social media) is a low reach form of media.  Reach 100,000 people via an ad – easy.  Reach 100,000 people via a Facebook post – will nigh impossible.  Traditional media has reach built into it, social media does not.  The only things you should post on a Facebook page should relate directly, in real-time, to the questions that people are asking.  Your consumers should define the content, you don’t plan the content in advance.  This type of contact is much higher value, both in terms of the impact with the consumer and also the intelligence for the brand, and therefore justifies a lower reach.  Facebook may well say, as it has, that “all (brand) content should be as engaging as the posts you see from friends and family”, but that is never going to happen is it?  You are never going to have the same relationship with a brand as with friends and family.   The only form of engagement worth generating is that which comes from listening and responding to the questions your customers are asking.  

None-the-less, lots of agencies are making a lot of money managing Facebook pages, which, in my opinion, reflects the fact that very few brands have worked out how to use Facebook (indeed social media as a whole) effectively.  Of course, these brands may have been encouraged to form a view about effective use of Facebook by those self-same agencies and Facebook itself.

Perhaps more charitably, it is form of herd mentality.  In any situation that is new, it is difficult make decisions about what to do – because there are no precedents.   It therefore often makes sense to do one of two things.  The first is the easiest thing and the second is the thing which everyone else is doing.  In the new environment of social, the easiest thing is any option which allows you to continue with conventional low engagement mass marketing albeit it with a few tweaks to make it more social.  It is easy to understand Facebook as some sort of media platform that needs to be fed with content and thus easy and sensible to outsource its management to an agency.  It is difficult to see Facebook as a channel that consumers will use to reach you, partly because it then means you have to deal with this yourself and can’t simply push the problem to an agency.  And very soon, the easy thing becomes the thing everyone else is doing which makes it even more compelling.

That is not to say that there isn’t a role for agencies.  You can use agencies to do analysis and intelligence – spending time out there seeing what people are saying and thinking about your brand, the competition or the sector.  Agencies can listen effectively on your behalf, but they can’t speak effectively on your behalf.

– Richard Stacy: advanced social media training –

Facebook Graph Search: why this could be so important to the future of Big Data

Last week Facebook launched Graph Search.  This is an attempt to turn Facebook into Google – i.e. make it a place where people go to ask questions, but with the supposedly added bonus that the information you receive is endorsed by people you know rather than people you don’t.

This is a very important step, not just for Facebook, because it could come to be understood as one of the critical opening skirmishes in the Battle of Big Data.  How it plays-out could have enormous implications for the commercial future of many social media properties, including Google.

This is how the Battle of Big Data squares-up.  On the one hand you have platforms, such as Google and Facebook, amassing  huge behavioural data sets based on information that users give out through their usage of these infrastructures.  Googlebook then sells access to this data gold mine to whom-ever wants it.  On the other hand you have the platform users, who, up until this point, have been relatively happy to hand-over their gold.  The reason for this is that these users see this information as being largely inconsequential, and have no real understanding of its considerable value or the significant consequences of letting an algorithm know what you had for lunch.  The fisticuffs begins when these users start to understand these consequences – because in most instances, their reaction is to say “stop – give me back control over my data.”

There is an enormous amount riding on this.  If users start to make demands to repatriate, or have greater control over, their data – this delivers hammer blows to the commercial viability of Googlebook type businesses, who are either making huge amounts of money from their existing  data goldmine, or have valuations that are based on the future prospect of creating such goldmines.  It also starts to open-up the field for new platforms that make data privacy and control a fundamental part of their proposition.

Initial reports from the field are not encouraging (for Facebook).  There were immediate issues raised about privacy implications which Facebook had to pacify (see this Mashable piece) and significant negative comment from the user community – as reported in this Marketing Week article.  See also this further analysis from Gary Marshall at TechRadar.  It will be very interesting to see how this plays-out.

From another perspective, I think this announcement illustrates what Facebook believes is its advantage over Google – i.e. its sociability and the fact that it can deliver information that is endorsed by people that you know.  The interesting thing about this is that the power of social media lies in its ability to create the processes that allow you to trust strangers.  The value of the information can therefore based on the relevance or expertise of the source – not the fact that they are a friend.  Google is the master of this in a largely unstructured way, and services such as Amazon or even TripAdvisor can deliver this via a more structured process.  Facebook can’t really do this, because it neither has Google level access to enough broad-spectrum data, not does it have processes relevant to specific tasks (Trip Advisor for travel – Amazon for product purchase).

Just because something works doesn’t mean that it is working

FireShot Screen Capture #105 - 'November Facebook Data for United Kingdom - stacynet@googlemail_com - Gmail' - mail_google_com_mail_u_0__shva=1#inbox_13b8e711e6d7883eYesterday I got an email from a chap called Darren Reed at Socialbakers (see above).  I say I got an email from him, but in reality got an email from b2b-mail.net because I ended up on an list on account of having commented on piece on Socialbakers’ blog.  I don’t think Darren actually sent it.  Anyway this ‘slightly spam’ email drew my attention to Socialbakers’ latest Facebook Report for the UK recognising the ‘best performing brands on Facebook’ – whatever that means.

As it turns out, this means the brands which have created the most engaging posts, according to the measurements provided by Socialbakers.  Thus I was able to see that the top three most engaging posts in the UK in November were:

  • Coming in at number three, was Appliances Online with “Click LIKE and you could WIN a £500 Electrolux Oven/Cooker.”
  • In the runner up spot was Asda with “Click “like” if you’d love to win £100 to buy your Christmas turkey and all the trimmings!”
  • And the winner, and best performing Facebook post in the UK in November was (insert drum role here) Appliances Online again with “Click LIKE if you fancy WINNING 3 Samsung smart appliances (Worth £2,500).”

One can see a theme emerging.  Indeed it is a theme that anyone who studies Facebook will be be familiar with – namely that the main reason consumers ‘like’ brands is to get offers, freebies or enter competitions.

I was pleased to receive this information because I was able to insert it into a presentation I was about to give to a bunch of marketing folk at Bilgi University in Istanbul in order to illustrate a point I was making in relation to understanding how to use Facebook.  This point was that “just because something works doesn’t mean that it is working” – as in just because competitions are effective in Facebook does not mean that the most effective way of using Facebook is competitions.  In fact there is almost nothing to be learned from the sort of data that Socialbakers et al may give us about effective postings or content in Facebook that will help us determine how to use Facebook effectively for the very simple reason that Facebook (indeed almost all forms of social media) are extraordinarily ineffective tools to use to put content in front of lots of people.  Social media does not ‘do’ large numbers it ‘does’ small groups.  Social media does not have scale built into it, in the way that traditional media does.  The benefit you get from social media therefore does not lie in the numbers, the ability to ‘engage’ a lot of people, the benefit lies in in the ability to create relationships with very small groups of individuals, at any one moment in time.  Critically, therefore, these contacts have to deliver something of significant value – i.e. hugely greater value than that associated with the sort of metrics that Socialbakers are measuring (likes, shares, comments etc) in order for the effort to be worthwhile.

I was using this point to illustrate the main theme of my presentation – namely that we now have two worlds: the world of the audience and the world of the individual (I thought this was a rather neat theme to use given that we were standing is a city that has been defined by the fact that is sits at the physical and political junction between two worlds – the world of Europe and the world of Asia).  Up until this point there has only ever been a world of the audience and as a result, most brands are simply trying to push approaches designed to be seen by audiences (i.e. lots of people) in front of individuals or groups.  And, of course, this doesn’t work.  As Hugh MacLeod memorably stated “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they would punch you in the face”.  This doesn’t mean that advertising doesn’t work, it means that advertising needs an audience in order to make it work, or as I, rather more charitably put it, “The great thing about advertising is that no-one take it personally”.

The value of Facebook, and all of social media, lies in the ability for your consumers to tell you what they think of your brand and, potentially, to help you improve what it is your brand does.  Pushing ‘engaging content’ out through Facebook is a total waste of time – consumers don’t want engaging content, they simply want a brand to be listening to them and answering their questions.  Now if you can do this at scale in a platform neutral way (i.e. listening to consumers wherever they want to talk to you – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, forums etc.)  you will be creating something of value – albeit Socialbakers won’t be able to measure it.  In reality, as I have said before, you don’t need to attach metrics to Facebook, Facebook itself is metric – it measures what people think about your brand.

Anyway – I will send this post to Darren.  I am sure he won’t mind given the liberty he feels he has to send stuff to me.  Let’s see how (or if) he responds.

As an interesting footnote, a few weeks ago I was running a session with a group of post-graduate students at the European Communications School in the London College of Communication.  Of the 30 or so members of the group only one used Facebook to have any sort of relationship with brands.  A handful said they occasionally ‘like’ brands, but only to get access to offers and the rest said they only use Facebook to stay in contact with their friends.  Is anyone surprised about this and if you are not, why do we then think Facebook is some sort of magic platform to ‘reach out to’ or ‘engage’  a significant number of consumers?

We also then went on to do some basic brand mapping work in order to identify what sort of relationship people had with ‘the thing’ that is Facebook.  What this showed is that people see Facebook as a utility.  It ranks somewhere slightly above the relationship they have with a mobile phone network and a long way below the engagement they have with services like Google or products such as Apple.  So, remind me again, why is it that Facebook is trading at an earnings multiple about four times greater than that of either Google or Apple?  Maybe it is because marketing directors are being encouraged in the deluded belief that Facebook is some form of media platform that allows them to reach lots of people, rather than a tool that lots of people can use to reach brands often with content and requests that brands are unprepared to respond to (a tool for which, incidentally, consumers will not be prepared to pay – as my research with the students also confirmed).