Techrunch and others are reporting that Facebook is in the process of revamping their Fan Pages. According to Techcrunch Facebook Pages will feature a more streamlined look next week though, with a multitab interface that defaults ot the the Wall. Unfortunately, all custom Facebook apps will be pushed to a second Boxes tab (similar to the new Profile). Inside Facebook reports that according to information provided to advertisers, the new look will include:
- The Wall tab, containing all the latest updates and Wall posts
- The Info tab will contain most static information
- The Photos tab will contain photos
- The Boxes tab will contain most custom content and application boxes, though some narrow boxes can remain on the “Wall” tab
- Page admins willl be able to add more application tabs to their Facebook Page if they choose it
Social networks are the new Internet “walled gardens” as more and more online consumers are spending the majority of the time on social networks like Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Orkut and Hi5.
The Growth of Social Networks
All the market research numbers point in the same direction – social networks are huge. According to a Dynamic Logic survey, 51% of Internet users ages 18 to 34 reported visiting a social network site at least once every few days. eMarketer estimates that in 2008 nearly 80 million people, 41% of the US Internet user population, visited a social network sites at least once a month (an 11% increase from 2007). By 2013, an estimated 52% of Internet users will be regular social network visitors. These numbers pretty much come to the conclusion: 50% or more of all daily Internet traffic in the future will be the spent on social networks.
The New Widget Economy
The good news is that most social networks now support some sort of “open” API that allows companies to build and deploy social apps and widgets. I like Advertising Age’s Bob Garfield notion of using widgets to essentially package “Websites-in-a-Can”. eMarketer predicted that US-based companies would spend $40 million in 2008 to create, promote and distribute widgets (up from $15 million in 2007).
”Some people believe that social networks are becoming ‘walled gardens,’ So many advertisers are experimenting with widgets as a way to penetrate them.”
As a sign of how much widgets have intrigued the marketing community, 58% of attendees at last December’s iMedia Agency Summit said they thought widgets would play a bigger role in their strategy than mobile. Investors have taken to widgets as well. In my previous post I talked about how widget companies have raised more than $160 Million over the 12 months.
It is probably safe to assume that in the probable future Internet users will continue to spend more and more time on social networks. Expect to see companies increasing their spending on widgets as well as other social media application that allow them to “penetrate” the social networking walled gardens. You can also expect to see new types of widget platforms emerge (including Metablocks’ own Widgetmatic WCM Platform) as marketers make widget a standard component of their social media marketing mix.
I was on the phone today with a client explaining the many benefits of Facebook pages and was asked if I had any good Facebook page example. Surprisingly I didn’t so I decided to put together and share a list of some well designed, ambitious or fairly interactive Facebook Fan Pages. Here they are:
Music and Film Industry
Films and Television Shows
Fashion and Retail
Politics and Government
Other Facebook Fan Page Resources
Here is a quick roundup of a couple of recent interesting widget news and trends:
- Facebook Connect is Getting into the Widget Game
The “first” Facebook Connect widget allows interested sites to add a simple comments box to their blog or webpage with a single line of code. Obviously the goal of this (and other such widgets) will be to help Facebook Connect (currently on over 6,000 sites) spread! Google, of course, has a similar service.
- Economy Gives Rise to Bad News Widget
Layoff trackers like this one from startup Telonu are making a debut to bring the bad news to your desktop!
- Chumby Widgets Coming to HDTVs
In my last news post I talked about Chumby, the company bring widgets to digital photo frames. Now Chumby as announced a partnership with Broadcom that will integrate its rich media internet platform onto system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions that will eventually find their way into HDTVs, set-top-boxes and Blu-ray players. Looks like Yahoo TV Widgets and Intel have some competition.
- Widget Marketing to Widget Productivity
Widgetbox is bringing its widgets to the Confluence project management/collaboration platform in an effort to improve productivity on the platform. Productivity boosting widgets are not a new thing! Most of these widgets, however, have made more sense on the user’s desktop, but bringing web-based widgets into portals, dashboards and collaboration platforms that business users spend time on is definately a set in the right direction.
Adobe AIR brings unique and attractive features to Flash widget developers. First of all, it’s cross platform; secondly it provides access to both web and desktop resources and thirdly, it comes with a great security model that allows you to write power yet secure widgets.
AIR applications can be built using both Flash and HTML/AJAX and can also leverage PDF for document rendering. The Adobe AIR sandbox restricts unauthorized access to the system files by AIR application. One application cannot access another applications secure files. Adobe comprehensive sandbox model include support for both application and non-application sandboxes. AIR also supports a special mechanism called “Sandbox Bridge” which allows non-application-sandbox files to access the properties and methods of files in an application sandbox.
Support for Code Signing
Adobe AIR applications must be signed by a code-signing certificate. Adobe recommends that developers use a commercially obtained code-signing certificate, as opposed to self-signed certificates! This support for digital code signing ensures developers are who they say they are!
For added security, Adobe AIR enables apps to store encrypted data (using AES-CBC128-bit encryption) in a separate location. Since two applications cannot share the same encrypted store, sensitive files are secure.
We frequently get calls from advertising and marketing agencies asking for help in crafting social media marketing strategies and campaigns on behalf of their clients. Although most of these requests are “buzzword” compliant (i want Facebook, MySpace, twitter, blog marketing, and the list goes on), not everyone “gets social media marketing” yet and that’s okay! Social media marketing takes many shapes and forms and unless you immerse yourself in the stuff, it can be confusing. What social media marketing is (and is not) is the topic of another post but assuming you know what you want to do, here are some guidelines to help get your social media marketing campaign on track. I confess, I am not sure ALL of these 10 laws are immutable, but I have always wanted to use the phrase “The 10 Immutable Laws of fill in the blank” in a post so enjoy:
- #1: Social media campaigns must make sense!
Our goal is to try and educate clients so they know what they are talking about before they try and do it! Many times the people driving these campaigns are not big social media users themselves or simply do not yet understand the medium. That’s fine – but clients need a quick education to reduce confusion and wasteful spending. I strongly suggest clients familiarize themselves with the lingo of social media marketing before trying it out (and I will post a social media marketing glossary of sorts later in the week).
- #2: Social media campaigns should be comprehensive
Marketing on social networks and through social media channels requires a comprehensive approach to be truly successful – no social media channel is an island and social media works best when it is used to cast a wide marketing net. Tweeking on your mobile phone about a blog post, that mentions a new video widget, that users can also share on Facebook or MySpace is the way to go! Tag that, then bookmark it.
- #3: Social media campaigns should leverage existing resources
Most clients see social networks and social media as a source of new customers or traffic but sometimes fail to realize that leveraging existing resources (such as traffic to their website) may every well be the key to their success. “Resources” can include existing traffic (that you can drive your “marketing virus” to social networks), existing content (that can be used to “fuel” your social media campaigns”), existing applications (that can be re-purposed as new social media apps) and existing relationships (the can be leveraged for added synergy on social networks). Be sure do a resource inventory before rolling out your social media marketing strategy and make sure you are leveraging as many of these as possible.
- #4: Social media campaigns must be long-term
There is nothing wrong with testing a strategy or two but clients that want to successful with social media must be committed to doing it for the long term. Start by getting your feet wet with a couple of “social media experiments” but once you get a knack for social media, go all the way! Its not about having one or two social media apps, its about having a portfolio of applications that drive users from one app to the other as you grow your user base. Its not about having one blog, but having a network of blogs that share and leverage common content. Its not about tweeting here and there but about putting together an enterprise-wide twitter management, permissioning, scheduling and distribution system.
- #5: Social media campaigns should be goal driven
Understand your business goals and objectives before you start and decide what strategy or social media marketing mix is going to help you accomplish your goals. Is your goal to create awareness? to generate traffic? to acquire new customers? to promote a new product or service? Try and ensure your goals are measurable and achievable. Consider going after several smaller (more achievable) goals that you can build on as you roll out your long-term social media marketing strategy. Consider using one strategy as a beach head to achieve longer lasting success, but always understand your end goals.
- #6: Track your social media campaigns to understand your ROI
Traffic everything that makes sense. You would be surprised as to how many people simply don’t bother to track or improve their results. When outlining your business goals and objects, devise a model that allows you to measure, understand and improve the success of your social media campaign and then put the necessary tracking mechanisms in place! For example, let’s say you are promoting a new Facebook application on your home page. Measure the number of people you are sending to add your Facebook application. Measure the average number of friends each person invites. Measure how many of those friends actually add the application. Measure how many of their friends who add your application return to your site. Measure how many are new customers. Measure drop off rates at each step of the game and tweak your process to reduce these rates…the list goes on but hopefully you get the idea (and the process).
- #7: Use social media campaigns to own thought leadership in your market
Promote your social media campaigns internally and externally. Talk about your social media marketing successes (and lessons learned) with the press, let your customers know that you indent to “get jigy with it”, learn their language and set up shop on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or wherever else they may live! Let them know you are cool and you are hip and your competitors suck at social media. Use your “social media marketing campaigns” as marketing and PR! Send out press releases, feature social media efforts on your home page and own thought leadership and mindshare in your market.
- #8: Use social media yourself
Its hard to be a successful social media marketer if you don’t use or understand the medium. Education is one thing but experience is another! Start blogging, start tweeting, get an account on Facebook. If you are brave, venture out on MySpace, see who your customers are and what they are doing! Immerse yourself in the medium and you will master it!
- #9: Pick the right partners to implement your social media projects
Just because you know what you are doing, doesn’t mean that your partners or vendors do! The advertising agency that has been handling your traditional advertising for the last 20 years is probably not the best please to go for social media marketing advice. Do your research and your homework, figure out who the players are and who the sleepers are! Anyone can build a Facebook application these days, find a firm they knows what application to build (and why), not just now to build it.
- #10: Practice, Practice, Practice, Perfect!
Social media changes daily, what is vogue today is gone tomorrow. What works today, may not work tomorrow. Until you starting dabbling in social media marketing, you won’t know what works and what doesn’t work with your particular set of customers. The adage “practice makes perfect” truly applies when it comes to social media marketing. Don’t stop with your first social media marketing campaign. Don’t wait for conclusive results before starting your next. Learn as much as you can from other people successes and failures. Read about and research social media and before you know it, you’ll be a social media marketing Ninja!!
Advertising Age’s Bob Garfield makes some great points in his article “Widgets Are Made for Marketing, So Why Aren’t More Advertisers Using Them?” (Reprint) . I love his notion of using widgets to essentially package “Websites-in-a-Can” as the exodus of users to social networks such as Facebook is leading to the “the slow death of the destination website”. Garfield points to some great examples of companies using widgets to promote their brands AND provide utility including Southwest Airlines, Schick Quattro, Johnnie Walker, Backcountry.com, Nike and InStyle Magazine. Here are some of the points Garfield makes:
- Branded widgets are the refrigerator magnets of the Brave New World
- Widgets are inexpensive to distribute, free to use, and distinctly useful
- Widgets carry an ad message wherever they go
- Widget virulence may be hard to achieve
His article is definitely worth a read!
Sometimes I use my blog posts as a note to myself or clients. This way I can organize answers to frequently asked client questions in one place (thus eliminating unnecessary emails).
What statistics/analytics does Facebook provide on application usage?
Note: This should serve as a high level summary for business/marketing users of Facebook applications
- Monthly Active Users
- Total users
Usage (Over Time) – how many people use your application
- Active Users
- Canvas Page Views (Total and Uniques)
- Blocks and Unblocks
- API Calls Usage (and other non-marketing details)
HTTP Requests (Per Period) – specifcs information on what calls are being made to your app
User Reponses (Past 7 Days) – stats on how feature metrics compare to those of other apps
Application Features (Over Time) – how people use your application
- Canvas Page Views
- Emails Sent
- Request Processing (Accept/Ignore/Block)
- Feed, Bookmarking and Tag activies
About Page Statistics (Over Time) – who are your fans
- User demographics (sex/age)
- About page activity (views, uniques, posts, reviews, photos, i.e.)
After I posted my Gigya examples post, the good folks at Clearspring were kind enought to let me know that in fact they had once again regained worldwide widget domination, my apologies, hard to keep up with these things (after all we only build them). Mashable’s ClearSpring Regains the Worldwide Widget Lead, Launches Smart Sharing Features reads:
Earlier this month, we reported that Gigya had taken the worldwide lead in terms of worldwide reach for widgets. That lead was apparently short-lived, as the latest numbers place Clearspring at the top of the heap. The company’s traffic jumped 59% from August to September, in large part because of its acquisition of the social bookmarking application AddThis. In all, comScore now reports 254 million monthly unique viewers of Clearspring widgets across the Web.
It’s always a good strategy to build market share (and mindshare) by acquiring partners or competitors. I am certain you we will see a couple more acquisitions in the coming months by widget platform players to bolster their numbers and market lead.