Why Marketeers Are Too Excited About Facebook


I almost can’t bring myself to write about Facebook. Everywhere I go I overhear people talking about Facebook. From people in the street on their phones talking to people about how they’re going to Facebook them to arrange a night out, to press articles about the modern etiquette of FB, it’s impossible to escape. So much so that I’ve even heard of drinking games where if someone mentions FB they get forced to drink a shot of death-booze.

And if you work in ‘the business’ it’s also impossible to escape the avalanche of clients who desperately want to get their stuff onto/into Facebook. But why? What’s the big attraction? Here’s some thoughts:

Distilling down the Facebook story you get to a few things that really really excite marketeers:

  • it has massive reach
  • it’s hugely sticky
  • the rise of it has been astronomical and if you keep extrapolating it’ll be bigger than the internet before 2009 (joke)
  • it’s technically pretty tight
  • people seem to love it
  • people can be friends with your brand (surely the nirvana of marketing achievement)
  • applications allow you to deliver trendy stuff like branded utility, brand experience, branded content, and all that jazz

But most importantly of all (for marketing people) Facebook has virality at its core. Every time someone does something their friends get to hear about it.

It’s almost like someone installed an ‘auto send to friend’ function onto the Internet.

Let’s face it this is what we’re all looking for isn’t it? Every time I enter a competition rather than me having to enter my friends email addresses to let them know that they should play too, higher powers decide that they ought to know and makes sure that they do (of course people can choose to turn this stuff off, but we all know how lazy ‘people’ are).

I was lucky enough to have a meeting with someone from Facebook last week and I think they’ve got an amazing pitch and I think that their description of Facebook as a social utility rather than a network is very smart. And actually very accurate and much more extensible than the notion of a social network.

If you look at the way that behaviour is changing you could imagine some people using Facebook as a replacement for email. Applications like Facebook really could (for some kinds of people) be a better fit for their communication needs than email (and IM and text messaging for that matter).

But when you start thinking about Facebook vs Email it takes you to an interesting place in marketing terms. The excitement and hype around Facebook isn’t a million miles away from the excitement around Hotmail when it first came out. Everyone was crowing about how viral growth of hotmail and it’s amazingly effective ‘sent from Hotmail, get your free account now’ signature line.

And pretty soon we started to see mainstream consumers using email to talk to each other and sharing things (even sometimes adverts!). So we tried to get involved. Creating email marketing campaigns, emailable ads, sticking ‘send to a friend’ on everything, and for a while it worked. And it’s still working for some people.

But I don’t think I ever recall a client, even at the height of global .com idiocy, asking for a ‘Hotmail campaign’ and deciding to ignore everyone else who had a different kind email account.

In a nutshell Facebook isn’t the magic answer. It’s exactly what they say they are, it’s a social utility. And the winners will be the people who understand that. The ones who are sympathetic to and respectful of what social utilities are, what they do, and why people use them.

Facebook is a set of amazing tools that we can all use to connect and communicate. Then once you’ve formed those connections the possibilities are vast. A bit like the Internet then, except for a bit smaller, a bit more organised and a bit more manageable (3 things that also make it appealing to marketing types).

I really hope that Facebook continues to thrive it’s a great thing. They just have to make sure that bad marketing doesn’t ruin it for everyone.

I suspect this one’s going to run and run. But I’d love to hear what everyone thinks…

Some more things worth reading…

As per normal Hugh manages to say, in one business card, what it’s taken me hundreds of words to express…

GapingVoid on Facebook

And definitely worth reading what Matt Dickman has to say about Fram (Friend Spam) over at Techno//Marketer.

Oh and this group about Facebook invading privacy is pretty hot right now. That’s the blessing/curse of social utilities if people don’t like things you hear about them pretty quickly too…

JML on the Internet

JML direct

I don’t know why I love JML, I just do. It’s something about their no-nonsense straightforward approach. As well as the fact that all their products are miracles of modern innovation!

Next time I’m confronted with a bunch of people fawning about how Innocent are soooo great I’m going to pull JML out of the bag, and talk about their joined up approach to marketing and retail kicks ass.

I love the fact that their ecommerce site has little infomercials instead of product images. It’s just like the shelf ends in Robert Dyas or Woolworths where they’ve got a little telly playing ads non-stop.

And does it work? Well I bought some Doktor Power environmentally friendly cleaner. So yes, it works.

My Favourite Post in Recent Memory

The Logic+Emotion blog is consistently good. This post about execs not getting ‘new media’ is so spot on it hits the middle of the spot in the middle of the spot at the centre of the bullseye.

An extract:

“The industry has brainwashed us to believe that an experience is the equivalent of gratuitous Flash orgy Websites that pushes technology to it’s limits. Create something bright and shiny—consumers will take the bait and you’ll win an award right? Take a Flash micro site, toss in some viral for good measure, add a pinch of uninformed social media and viola! You’ve got yourself some digital marketing. Research? Who needs it?

Folks, we really need to start understanding what really motivates users. There are literally millions of enthusiasts out there producing quality content in highly search engine friendly formats. Not only is much of their content easier to find on the Web—it’s engaging, relevant, and the people who produce it actually talk back to us. It’s time to wake up. We need to get out in the field and understand people—what motivates them, and why they behave the way they do.”

Amen to that!

Read it here, really please go there and read it, I only copied a small bit to give you a flavour.

Marc Ecko’s Latest ‘Stunt’


Marc Ecko, he of ‘Tagging Airforce One‘ fame, has come up with another big noisy stunt.

He’s bought a baseball for 3/4 million dollars. It’s a controversial baseball. It’s the ball that was hit by some dude (Barry Bonds) who got 756 home runs (which is a record). But rumour has it he’s on ‘roids so there’s lots of debate around the legitimacy of the record in the US.

So Ecko has a newsworthy baseball. And in his words he’s going to “democratize the ball”. Basically visitors to http://www.vote756.com can vote for what they want to happen to the ball.

  • Stick it in a museum
  • Stick it in a museum with an asterisk on it
  • Or blast it into space

So far 1.5m votes have been cast. And lots and lots of people are talking about it, online, in the press, on TV, and all the other places that people talk about sports (and marketing and culture).

The San Francisco Chronicle report:

“He’s stupid. He’s an idiot,” Bonds said. “He spent $750,000 on the ball and that’s what he’s doing with it? What he’s doing is stupid.”

And they go on to say:

Bonds’ issue with Ecko was not that one of the three choices on the 756-ball ballot is sending it to Cooperstown branded with an asterisk, an implication that his record is tainted by alleged steroid use. Bonds merely suggested the guy could have found a better use for three-quarters of a million large.

I’m not so sure. As the guys over on the Fallon Planning Blog rightly point out, $750,000 don’t get you all that much coverage in the US. And the website looks like it costs peanuts.

Based on the number of votes cast, let alone the PR impressions that he’s had across the US (and the wider world). That ball wasn’t such a stupid investment after all… (But as Igor just pointed out to me Mr Ecko could have tried to do something actually good with the money like cure AIDS, which is true also…)

Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics

So near yet so far…

I was really getting on well with this Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics – Take 1 from Ogilvy’s 360 Digital Influence Blog. It seems to have some decent principles that make sense whether I’m wearing a blogger hat or a marketing hat (which is nice). They’re asking for comments and are going to refine the thing (and, by the sounds of it, share the refined version at the end) which is great. But then I got to this bit at the bottom:

While you don’t need to use your name in commenting, please identify yourself as a blogger and/or as an agency representative. Also, feel free to repost the current draft of the Code of Ethics on your own blog and solicit feedback from your readers (just give us a link back so we can follow the conversation too!). If you have any questions, or want to share an opinion privately, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] and Alison Byrne Fields at [email protected]

For some reason it just made me feel a bit icky. I’m not really sure why. I just got a massive whiff of PR-ism. It’s like they’re trying to make sure that feedback and opinion can be ‘looked after’ in the correct way. What they’re asking for is totally fair and reasonable and I’m sure I shouldn’t have a problem with it at all.

Does anyone else get where I’m coming from? Or am I over-reading again? Or maybe I could just never openly like anything that was posted on a blog called ‘360 degree digital influence blog’ ;-)

I’ve seen the future of Marketing 2.0 and it’s rubbish (but don’t worry, it’s in Beta)

[Please note: none of the brands mentioned here have ever done anything like this (as far as I know), it’s a purely fictional story of an imagined future from my slightly fuddled brain]

Imagine if last night everyone who worked in the wider world of marketing all drank from the 2.0 Kool-Aid. We’d all be fucked and the world would be more rubbish…

What we used to call ‘ad breaks’ would become a bunch of signposts driving us to somewhere where we can ‘get involved’, ‘have our say’, ‘tell someone what new chocco-weety-bix should be shaped like’, ‘find out how to get to NappyStock this Saturday’ or ‘create a new ad’ (or being as ads don’t exist any more the call to action would have to be something like: ‘create our next participatory engagement experience’).

Then after the ‘call to participation break’ we’d get to watch lots of (interactively enabled) branded content. Perhaps an episode of NotLost (TomTom’s never ending drama about a bunch of people who are going somewhere).

Tom Tom Not Lost

Or ‘My House Is Cleaner Than Yours’ a new self-help/gameshow hybrid where people compete to make their house the most sanitary, this week the Cillit Bangers from Dagenham vs the Mr Sheenies from Wakefield.

Alternatively ditch the TV as literally hundreds of other people have done over the last year or two.

TV off, what now? Xbox game? Tomb Raider VI – Lara in search of cheaper car insurance (well the game was only £4.99, what do you expect!). It’s a quest that’s jam packed with ‘real world stuff’. Billboards full of user generated content (Tomb Raider V had advertising billboards, but that’s just not ‘realistic’ anymore). And products are neatly integrated into the gameplay (use Pantene’s 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner to get Lara in-and-out of the shower and back to her mission in double quick time). But unfortunately you get stuck at the first doorway, Sheilas’ Wheels have trapped Lara in a conversation about some new no-claims bonus for adventurous chicks. You’ve got no time to get into this now it’s bedtime, and besides you’re a man playing a woman in the game, so unless you want in-game car insurance for your female character… Oh hell, it’s all a bit confusing.

Sheilas Wheels Raider

You shut down the Xbox, vowing not to visit the gate of Sheila ever again.

It’s not the first time today that you’ve been tricked into a ‘dialogue’, in the good old days you used to have to deal with thousands of marketing messages a day. But that was fine. You’d learned how to filter those out: iPod + staring into the middle distance seemed to do the job. But now everyone wants to have a bloody conversation. You haven’t even got time to talk to your friends let alone your toothpaste (which you didn’t really choose anyway, you only bought it because it was on 3-for-2 at Boots).

You manage to brush your teeth without getting into a discussion with aforementioned toothpaste and climb into bed. But not before setting your ‘Alpen wakey-wakey-yodel alarm’ on your mobile.

alpen alarm

Sorry I got a bit carried away with my little 2.0 world, and I could go on (for far too long). I just wanted to hint at a vision of a Marketing 2.0 future that’s more depressing and more worrying than what we’re living right now. I often think about it when I see brands out there doing wholly inappropriate things like trying to engage in conversations that no-one wants to be part of, creating nuggets of branded utility that solve fictional non-problems, and so on…

The problem is that all of this can be justified using one of the most compelling of 2.0isms – the ‘always in beta’ mantra. Not only is it massively compelling (and commendable) as a principle it’s also incredibly dangerous when put in the hands of evil.

Used in the wrong way:

  • It basically means that you can never really be wrong.
  • It means that you can get away with nothing ever being properly finished. In the olden days people would just ‘fess up and admit that they’d not had time to do the work, deadlines would get pushed and the work would get done and go out a bit later.
  • It means that you can trick clients into doing bad stuff. “Oh go on… We’ll just do it as a test, if it works we can build on it. If not we can always sweep it under the carpet…”. I’ve alredy sat in some meetings where it feels like people are practically calling each other ‘chicken’ for not doing something preposterous in the name of beta.

I can just imagine smart kids all around the world telling their teachers: “No miss, I really have done my homework, it’s in beta…”

Of course I really love most of the principles of Marketing 2.0, I just wanted to make the point that with much power comes much responsibility. Oh, and it might not be the solution for everything.

Brands, Bands, Fans

Frukt Image

Music strategy and comms agency Frukt send me a lovely email every month called Brands | Bands | Fans which is a top snapshot of the way that brands are ruining music. Or in some rare occasions doing something that’s actually quite good.

The newsletter has a blog (or is it the other way around?) which can be read here: http://www.brandsbandsfans.com/.

But I quite like getting the newsletter, as it makes me laugh sometimes, from today’s mail:

XM, Virgin Megastores, Myspace, Smirnoff and MTV all win kicks in the head for launching a further stack of battle-of-the-bands competitions this week. Someone do something interesting will you? Dare I suggest that non-expert marketing agencies who suggest this well trodden path as somehow ‘cutting edge’ would do well to pick up the phone and call FRUKT. We do this for a living… we can help you. We can make you a better person and give you confidence and make you really different and exciting. We can.

A tough bit of salesmanship. But they make a valid point.

Now That’s Segmentation…

Absolutely stunning.

This leaked segmentation doc (allegedly from Phones4U) is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a while. Certainly the funniest marketing segmentation anyway. Includes such highlights as:

Flashing Blades: blokes between 15 and 24 who enjoys “going to the gym” as well as “taking risks, drugs and the odd street fight”. All good ways of staying fit.

iPod Babe: watches Hollyoaks, Footballers Wives and Big Brother, shops at Lush and Starbucks, and is into Fuck Buddy Sex.

And there’s plenty more. With promises of even more to come… Are you a Top Gear Tiger or an iPod Babe? | The Register

Fancy Working For Orange?

Orange are on the lookout for a new Digital Manager.

Obviously the best thing about the job is that you’ll get to work with Poke, and you’ll get to boss us around. And we have to be nice to you. But aside from that it’s a pretty cool role.

It’s got all the things you’d look for in a client side job and a great team to work with. It’s based in Paddington.

They’re looking for someone with:

  • 3-5 years in digital marketing
  • Demonstration of managing digital campaigns (and be able to show some cool stuff you’ve worked on)
  • Experience of media planning online (at a campaign level)
  • All the things associated with running jobs (project management, dealing with agencies, budget management, etc.)

From where I sit this could be a really great opportunity. The team is relatively small and able to ‘get stuff done’. And now that they’re a fully converged mobile/broadband company there’s some pretty cool stuff coming up.

If you want more information get in touch and I’ll hook you up…

Your future could be bright ;-)


This is the second time I’ve said I don’t want to blog about what I had for breakfast. But in a roundabout way I’m doing it again…

This morning I stopped at a little stand called MOMA at London Bridge (I have to admit the first time I saw their sign I did a double take as I thought they were advertising MDMA which wouldn’t be usual commuter fodder at 8am).

They sell healthy breakfast things. Oaty-Yoghurty things as well as dried fruits and that kind of stuff. All looks very nice, and like a worthy way to start my day. So for the first time today I bought one. And here’s how the interaction went:

me: what’s that, and what’s that
stallholder: explains…
me: ok, I’ll have one
stallholder: puts pot in bag and pops in a little card, says: “hope you enjoy it, will you email us and let us know what you think

Here’s the card:

moma card

And you know what. I will email them and let them know what I thought. And not only that, I’ll write it on my blog too:

Really tasty. I feel satisfied but not over-full. And I’ll definitely go back for me.

And yes, lots of companies say: “tell us what you think”. But how often does someone actually ask you face to face to email them about whether you like something or not. Big companies with big customer service budgets (and marketing budgets for that matter) could learn a thing from a little stall inside a station.

You can find out more about them at: http://www.momafoods.co.uk