20071102104425backhander_istockj203jpgIt’s one thing to make money from adverts served to and targeted at your audience based on their behavior and connections on your site. Most people accept that this is how sites like Facebook intend to kick start a revenue stream. We allow sites to serve us adverts based on our preferences, past behavior, groups we join, friends we have and interests we disclose under the knowledge that this is now happening across the web on most advertising funded websites.

Now we’re told (via the Telegraph) that Facebook has a new revenue model, by turning the platform into a tool corporates can use for market research. Facebook will (says the Telegraph) allow companies to selectively target Facebook users to research their new products. They say companies will be able to pose questions to selected members, using the social network as a kind of straw poll. That’s great for companies, it can take a long time to get the right people selected for a survey or focus group, but you can make the selection process much quicker when you have access to the kind of data Facebook has about users.

So, what incentive for the users? I don’t know about you, but if I start getting random questions popping up in Facebook from brands who want my opinion I’m unlikely to respond unless I feel there’s some value in me doing so. If brands are going to use me to improve their product offering; and out of that Facebook is going to make some money, then should they be paying users for their time and opinions?

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A widgets masterclass

March 3, 2008

Here’s an interesting series of articles and audio/video from Business Week on the subject of widgets. The series is designed to help influence CEO’s as to whether it’s worth dipping your toes in the waters of widgets (I’m a believer so I’d say yes, go for it).

Building a brand with widgets gives a good overview as to why it may be important to your brand to embrace new technologies and distribution channels such as widgets in order to promote your brand and discusses the viral aspects that can make brands fly online.

Widgets: The future of online ads is a piece singing the praises of widgets and all they stand for. On the flip side Why widgets don’t work is a counterpoint playing devils advocate.

A widget mogul in between classes is about the up and coming Facebook app developer Ankur Nagpal who’s made six figures at the age of 19 creating apps for Facebook.

When Facebook ads flop introduces us to some of the many unused Facebook applications and gives reasons for their failure. What’s good about this piece is the fact that most of the apps are from large companies with mature marketing strategies and yet they’ve still got it wrong, should be a warning to us all.

The CEO guide to widgets is a podcast talking about the use of widgets for advertising on social networks.

Finally, Making money from widgets is a video interview with VideoEgg CEO Matt Sanchez discussing how to go about monetising the widget world.

Great series of articles, definitely recommend sending this to your CEO (or manager…) if they really don’t seem to get it yet!

712% year-on-year growth???

February 27, 2008

That’s Facebook for you! At the same time as everyone saying Facebook is facing an exodus figures come out showing that the audience is a massive 712% higher than this time last year.

Maybe there’s some jealousy leaking out in the recent stories… For my opinion on Facebooks traffic dip go here.

Oh dear, I keep seeing stories like this warning of the inherent security risks in web 2.0 sites.

Yes, Facebook etc can be used to launch attacks or lure unsuspecting users to pages which contain malicious code but the stories I’m seeing keep talking about companies being put off implementing their own web 2.0 features by this.

Don’t let it put you off; architect it properly, monitor it and input to the conversation so you know whats going on and you should keep abreast of any issues.

If you’re planning another Facebook though then maybe try putting security at the heart of it 😉

Another big news story today is the dip in Facebook users from the UK of 5% from December to January. Much is being made about this being the backlash to the poorly executed advertising projects or the natural move away as it becomes fad rather than fashion.

I have my own opinion… I think it’s purely the January blues. Think about it; December is a huge month for keeping up with friends, arranging events and parties and reconnecting with old acquaintances. Come January though, we’re all back at work, busy, tired, dieting, looking for holidays and generally keeping a lid on the credit card as we recover from the spending excess.

Now does a dip in January seem that unusual for a social network which basically encourages social interaction between friends?

Alright, I may be being a little blaise but I wouldn’t read too much into the dip and I certainly wouldn’t be talking about the demise of Facebook quite yet.

Facebook accounted for 1 in 50 of all internet visits in December 2007 (according to Hitwise). It’s share of internet traffic has grown 10-fold over the last year (again in the UK).
It also positioned itself as the 7th largest upstream website, that means it sends the 7th largest amount of traffic referrals to other website categories within the Hitwise system.

Figures like this make it hard for marketers and PR people to ignore. Any potential traffic source of that magnitude has to be tapped into and quickly before your competitors figure out all the cool ways to make use of a social network and you end up looking like someone who’s following their lead. It’s still imperative to add value though, just diving in with a load of offers isn’t good enough, you need to engage and add value to your prospects experience of Facebook (while at the same time acquiring new prospects and customers).

Mark Zuckerberg the head of Facebook has been interviewed on U.S. tv program 60 Minutes. You can watch the video and read the associated article here.