Facebook Like button – Social Plugins and the rest of what Facebook annouced at F8

Well, I added the Like button to Webmetricsguru.com (I also registered TheWebMetricsGuru.com domain last week, btw) via a WordPress Plugin and I’m listening to parts of the F8 Developers Conference that took place earlier today so I can form my own opinion on the changes Facebook announced today along those who I follow.

In fact, there was so much announced today at the F8 Conference that it will take a little while to wrap out hands around it and decide how to adapt.

It’s my belief I should listen to  this information about Facebook first before looking too much at what everyone else is saying and spinning – which is what I did (spent close to an hour listening to F8) just now.

There were a lot of enhancements – Social Plugins allows you to share content without doing anything else – you socially enable your site and begin to personalize any site based on your friends, your likes and dislikes.   There is an activity stream plugin, login plugin, Social Bar (automatically socialize your site with one line of HTML)  and recommendations plugin as well.

Note: It’s almost as if Facebook syndicated it’s social functions to any website that wants to add them – which is a very significant enhancement which I predict will soon become widespread.

My guess is Google is not too happy about this development from Facebook – and in fact, what was announced today now eclipses PageRank, especially the Search capability and Webhook capability  – using Oauth2 just made programming Facebook much easier, too.

The Open Graph Protocol allows a page creator to tag pages to have a more universal meaning – it’s a markup language – marking up your pages which allows the web to become more intelligent.

The Graph API is more for developers – Facebook made it much easier to program around the Facebook platform.

Some Reactions to the F8 Announcement -

Frank Reed at MarketingPilgrim asks if Users will Like the New Facebook Like Button? and suspects there will be a large privacy issue with sharing all this data around the social graph.

MG Siegler at TechCrunch said “I Think Facebook Just Seized Control Of The Internet” and I happen to agree with him – this will put Google on the defensive – a place they have rarely been lately.

…that Facebook’s stance is that social connections are going to be just as important going forward as hyperlinks have been for the web.

…..And if that’s so, Google had better watch out. There may be a new sheriff in web town.

I’m so tired of Google being ahead of everyone else (or acquiring a company if they can’t be ahead) that Facebook jumping ahead of Google would be a welcome breath of fresh air – and very likely, even if Google tried to buy Facebook now,  Federal Anti Trust law would stand in Google’s way, I suspect.

But … Greg Sterling (not related to Brad Sterling of the Twilight Zone) of Search Engine Land said Facebook’s Alternative Internet Vision And Its Search Implications are not well understood yet.  Sterling echos MG Siegler by suggesting that …

The vision represents a shift from a Google-centric internet comprised of billions of unrelated documents and sites to a Facebook centric one where social relationships and affiliations are the connective tissue in a vast network.

And Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb asks if the New Facebook is a Deal With the Devil?

Facebook blew peoples’ minds today at its F8 developer conference but one sentiment that keeps coming up is: this is scary.

The reasons Kirkpatrick gives for Facebook’s announced changes being scary is

  1. It kicked off meaningful adoption of the Semantic Web with the snap of the fingers (not sure why that is scary – isn’t this what we secretly wanted?)
  2. It probably knocked a whole class of recommendation technology startups (can’t say that makes much difference to me – but if I owned such a company I’d probably be pissed).
  3. It popularized social bookmarking and made subscribing to feeds around the web easier than ever before. (Again, why is this scary)?
  4. And it may have created the biggest disruption to web traffic analytics in years: demographically verified visitor stats tied to peoples’ real identities. There was so much big news that the analytics part didn’t even come up in the keynote.  But ….
      1. Currently, Insights provides users data about their Facebook fan pages and social ads. Now, however, Facebook is taking this a step further and will also give users who implement Facebook’s new features on their sites data about the people who share content from these sites, “no matter where those shares originated.”

Now, Insights will provide a lot more information on aggregate data on comments and likes – plus referral traffic to an application (where on Facebook your traffic is coming from) – it’s sorta like Omniture renaming a page.   Active Users, key sources based on types of actions, demographic breakdown based on gender, age, local, city.  Prompt and Acceptance permission rates are also being supplied around applications.

Pages Insights (likes, comments, unsubscribes) shows you how users react to your content.  Each story also has a feedback percentage, impressions, engagement, etc).  Also, you can track where your fans are coming from – and this should be interesting – as it will now be clear how large fan bases have been built.

You will be able to get analytics for any url – not just Facebook.

And ….. now  Facebook becoming it’s own Analytics Service … take that Omniture …take that WebTrends … (share, reshares, feedback rate can be charted across the web) as you can see the urls that are most engaging based on how it interacted with your Facebook content.    And with Domain Level demographics will make a very interesting play to the Social Media Monitoring Platforms like Sysomos, BrandWatch, Radian6 – etc.

You just do what all the analytics vendors have you do … add a line or two of JavaScript …ha, ha … who has the last laugh?  We’ll see.

You start by going to Facebook.com/Insights and click on Insights for your Domain.

I was thinking of using Sysomos, Scout Labs or Radian6 to pick out the most interesting parts of the conversations around the F8 announcements today – but decided to hold off on that as most people probably aren’t too sure how they feel about the new improvements and capabilities Facebook announced today – and if I monitor now, all I’m going to pick up is that uncertainty.

I will close this post with one more thought – remember I said that Social Media ROI would be largely figured out by years end?  Well, between FourSquare (Geolocation)  and Facebook (new announcements) plus Google Places – it’s not hard to see why that will happen.

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Are your Facebook Friends worth 1 dollor USD per month? Try 4 cents, instead!

I’m having fun with this – I can’t believe The Business Insider’s report on Want 5,000 More Facebook Friends? That’ll Be $654.30 where it’s reported …

….. folks at online ad firm uSocial are taking that a step further: Pay them money …. they’ll deliver you 5,000 Facebook “friends” for 7.6 cents per friend ($654.30), or up to 10,000 Facebook “fans” for a mere 8.5 cents a fan ($1.167.30).

….. It claims that since each Facebook friend or fan is worth $1 per month, buyers will make back their investment many times over in the first month (it’s unclear how it came up with that number).

mmm … one of the basic tenets of analytics, any analytics, you have to be able to explain how you come up with a number – your reasoning might be right or it might be wrong, or generally right but have an error or two, but uSocial should be able to explain their reasoning for why a Facebook friend is worth 1 buck, USD, per month, on average.

Let me reason though it and try to figure out what a Facebook friend is really worth – I’m more likely the come up with a fair assessment than uSocial since I’m not in the business of selling friends, and I don’t know anyone who is.

Consulting Facebook’s Statistics page I find out that, at the time of my writing this post, there are slightly more than 250,000,000 active users and, on average, each user has approximately 120 Facebook friends.  According to Nick Gonzales at CheckFacebook.com (who I met last year in NYC and used to write for TechCrunch.com) Facebook has closer to 270,000,000 million users.

Another piece of the puzzle comes from Emarketer’s predictions on annual social media spending per social network, as reported on by  Mashable (see below)..

…..  Facebook numbers seem to be an underestimate based on other reports we’ve been hearing. Most recently, Facebook board member Marc Andreessen told Reuters that he expects the social network to generate at least $500 million in revenue this year, and “billions” within the next few years.

If we take Marc Andeessen’s numbers as being on target and, assume the average number of Facebook Users in 2009 at 250,000,000 (since the number of users increased each month – at might be at 270,000,000 but might have been 230,000,000 in March 09, I’d rather just take the 250,000,000 average users for 2009 and settle on that number).

If we assume the value of each user on Facebook is worth what advertisers are  willing to pay for – then each “Facebook Friend” would have a value in 2009, of roughly, 50 cents USD.  Therefore, on a monthly basis, each “Friend” would be worth about 4 cents.

Ha … 4 cents, USD, per month per Facebook friend in 2009 – that’s my logic!   You may disagree or agree with my reasoning – but at least, I explained how I derived my number, uSocial, didn’t.

Based on my reasoning – uSocial is charging users about twice what a friend is really worth, per month – but then – maybe their going out and getting the friends for you is what your paying for.  But then, is it really worth having “friends” like that?

For me, personally, no.   For a marketing campaign…… maybe; many PR Social Media campaigns have a hard time showing results that are meaningful to the CPM, hits trained, marketing expectation of the clients – in such a situation – might not paying for a bunch of “Fans” to be quickly added – make some sense?    If it were me, no – but I can see some people going for this.   The problem is quality of what you get and there’s a certain ethical issue with buying friends that goes against the grain of many people, including me.

And the idea that a Facebook Friend is worth $.04 cents vs. $07. cents – uSocial says that you can make money off your contacts that is not reflected in the 500 million dollars Marc Andreessen estimates Facebook will make in Advertising fees this year.   That might be true, but there’s no way to qualify the worth of an average user unless a large number of advertisers on Facebook are willing to share what they think their Facebook campaigns are worth, to them, in profits, after expenses, and that information is extremely difficult to find.

This reminds of stock valuations, when buying a company the value of the acquisition offer is anywhere between 8 – 24 times the annual revenue – why that is, I don’t know – by that reasoning, a Facebook friend at 4 cents per month could be worth 1.00 USD per month based on a valuation model that says you can monetize that friendship at 24 times it’s worth, based on advertising.

So that’s where uSocial’s 1.00 per month probably comes from.    Another calculation comes from Clara Shih post on lifetime value of a friend.

Customer lifetime value can no longer just be viewed as the present value of future cash flows from a particular customer in isolation. The new calculation should be something like this:

CLV_new = CLV_old + (Level of influence  x Size of Community) + (Level of influence  x Size of Network) + (Sales resulting from idea contributions)

* Obviously a very rough approximation, assumes there is little to no overlap between the individual’s network and the vendor community. Sales resulting from idea contribution can be defined as total revenue (or incremental increase in revenue) resulting from new products or features suggested by the community, divided by the number of participants in the community.

Assume, then, the CLV of a Facebook friend is some value (between 4 cents and 1.00 USD per month) with a Level of Influence which is currently undefined – since we have no easy way to measure it – but let’s put it at neutral, say .5 for now, and sales from the ideas your friends give you (again, we have no way to know this since we’d have to ask everyone).

Again, if we could get the data, we might end up with a function that draws a diagonal line  that says – based on the the value of an average Facebook friend, of average influences, who brings in so much income in your network – you can figure out the value of acquiring more friends.

I just made up this chart (above) based on some assumptions, below

Assuming I can rank the influences of all the friends an average user has (and that is a whole different discussion) I can create segmentation in analytics that would say, for a certain groupings of friends, they are worth 1.00 USD per month, where as others, might be worth 12.00 USD per month, etc.

The values I came up with are totally hypothetical, I make no bones about it, or apologies for it, my numbers are probably as good or better than anyone else has come up with, so far, and if I could come up with some way of measuring average “influence” the chart would be even more interesting.   My point is – we need to move to something like this – that chart – segmentation of groups of friends. etc.

In saying this, I by no means want to devalue the nature or meaning of friendship – virtual or real (as if there’s much difference anymore) I am looking at it mainly as a way to justify and explain why need to spend money on friends – as if I should have to explain it – but I do – because Social Media Marketing, as I wrote about the other day in Limitations on Social Media as a marketing medium, is really about “Marketing to Friends” in one form or another …. would you disagree?

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Facebook at Work and the Nucleus Research Study

Just read the Nucleus Research study on FACEBOOK: MEASURING THE COST TO BUSINESS OF SOCIAL NETWORKING released last month.

The report points out the employees can’t articulate a business reason why access to Facebook helps:

Although industry pundits may tout Web 2.0 and social networking as the next big thing, when asked to actually identify business uses for Facebook, Nucleus found that few employees could point to a true business reason. In some cases a specific business benefit may outweigh the general productivity loss, but the business case hasn’t yet been made for broad business user adoption.

But isn’t that opinion a self fulfilling prophesy – if a business doesn’t use Social Media, why expect people who work there to articulate the benefits of Social Networking?

I’m not totally disagreeing that there is a productivity issue, in some cases, where time on Facebook was time taken away from other activities that your at work to do.  However, if the nature of the work place needs to move towards Social Media, wouldn’t make more sense, instead of forbidding Facebook, and Twitter, to integrate it into the normal workflow?

And, by the way, I’ve found the time I spend on Facebook extremely productive, but that’s just me, can’t speak for anyone else’s experience.

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