Nine years ago this evening I sent my first Tweet. I believe this was after I joined Facebook, but it’s all a blur. For years I was energized by the small pipe platform of Twitter. I saw it as a way to connect with people all over the globe. A platform to learn, gain knowledge and better understand the world. I viewed Facebook as a convenient way to share and connect. I didn’t think Facebook was as pure as Twitter, and I still don’t. Facebook has always been burdened with; should I friend them? Why are they friending me? What about my boss or direct report? So much cognitive weight.
How did that work out? Social media, led by Twitter and the largest thing in the world, Facebook, have become the opposite of connectedness. Facebook and Twitter separate, segment and quarantine people.
Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
Houston, we have a problem.
Power – Opinions are frequently weaponized.
Open and Connected – Anyone can say or post anything, including their suicide.
Connect with Friends and Family – I’d love to see the real stats on this. For the most part, Facebooks tries to connect you to complete strangers or companies because they can profit from it.
Discover What’s Going on in the World – Facebook is it’s own reality. A planet Twilo. Keep your oxygen tank filled.
Share and Express – Totally nailed it. Bring it on.
I’m listening to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s soundtrack to The Social Network (so brilliant) as I write this. All the while realizing the genesis of social media (losing the caps) is nothing new. I grew up in the ’60’s and I know what a revolution looks like. We stated, “The revolution will be televised.” Today the revolution is fractured. Hamilton has resonated precisely because it repurposed a timeless message. The brilliance of Hamilton shows us nothing has changed.
Silicon Valley thinks only of the future. Of what the next world could / should be. To that I say hooray. But don’t leave behind the foundation that gave you this privilege. Being able to express an opinion is a privilege, not a DIGITAL RIGHT. Rights are fought for, they can’t be coded. Silicon Valley is fighting mostly for profits.
Time is the ultimate teacher. The final arbiter. How much time do you have or are willing to spend in the world of bits? How much time will you spend in the world of atoms with your family and friends without a wall of code between you? Social media is a force multiplier. The question is, of what?
Amazon Prime makes my life easier because it delivers atoms to my doorstep. Things I use, need, and yes, indulge in. That’s worth my time.
Notation: I embrace technology on all levels. I am pre tech-innate. I am suspicious when opinion coupled with technology is peddled for absolute truth.
There’s no denying that Facebook is becoming a major channel for brands on the planet. I spend quite a bit of time there and likely you do as well. Brands are investing significant amounts of thought, human capital and money in hopes of garnering customer engagement and eventually revenue. But Facebook doesn’t make it easy.
We create content around the Facebook page design and try to understand how their technology works. We sift through the countless companies who claim to know how things work on Facebook, and just when you think things are getting there, Facebook makes a major change to the design, or code, or interface and suddenly much of what you have made is now broken, or will no longer be useful to you. It’s frustrating, and should cause all brands to take a step back and re-evaluate the role external social networks should play in their company strategy.
Facebook is great at helping us understand their ad platforms and targeting, but don’t seem to be as focused on trying to understand where pain points are for brands who place their intellectual property on Faceboook. Or, in providing ample notice when major changes are about to occur. It would be wonderful to have a technology roadmap, or at the very least an outline of what might be coming. This would help brands plan their investments. It’s hard to argue that with Facebook’s size and large head start that they need to keep everything close to the vest.
Research done by Forrester, indicates that consumers trust the information they find at a company web site (30%) at higher rates than email, TV ads and direct mail. Company blogs (12%), online banner ads (9%) and mobile ads (6%) are at the bottom of the trust list. This means that your earned media, in particular your web site, is where most of your resources should be placed. Brands control the content, design and the technology of their own internet properties, making planning and tracking much easier than in the paid and earned media spaces.
Facebook offers significant access to consumers as well as a platform that is truly social, and this means you can’t leave them out of your social framework. How much you include them and in what way depends somewhat on your brand and how valuable consumers find your web site. The more your customers visit your site, the lighter your integration efforts in the social networks should be. If you have trouble getting people to your site, then Facebook might be a richer platform for you.
Other considerations are who owns the data and how much can you track or attribute back to the networks you work in. By all means I think Facebook is valuable for brands, but like anything, the value will evolve over time. The majority of your investment should be on your own web site.
As the calendar has turned to 2011, we have been inundated with an endless barrage of Social Media predictions compiled by experts and dabblers alike. Some of what I have read are excellent and well informed perspectives backed by data and research, while others appear to be, well, nil-informed. As Yogi Berra once said, “Prediction is very hard, especially about the future.” No predictions here, just some observations about Social Media based on 3 years of experience working inside a large firm.
There is No Playbook
This medium or channel, or whatever you wish to call it, is way too new to have a reliable playbook. What works for some brands will not work for others. I would go so far as to say that Social Media does not have any common marketing ground. Direct mail and basic advertising principles are largely transferrable across brands and verticals even though retail is very different from financial services which is different from manufacturing. Social lacks such helpful fundamental truths.
Outcomes are Slippery
Save one or two examples (Dell Computer coupon codes on Twitter comes to mind), there is low confidence that a marketer could reliably forecast results from activity in the social sphere. Your CMO wants to know what she/he can book if your Social Media team is given $500,000. The CMO isn’t getting good answers to that challenge.
Mobile Adds Complexity
Social and mobile are matching luggage. They just naturally go together. A very different beast from the early web days of the late 1990’s. Back then the channel was confined to the desktop computer, a narrow pipe and a basic interface. We were able to make progress with a measured development roadmap. But with today’s always on, high speed connections and smart phones, there’s so many more variables to consider. Location, screen size, gestures, cameras, text messages, etc.
You Will Always be Outnumbered
One of the things that raises the possibility that there may never be a Social Media playbook is the injection of the consumer into the mix at every turn. They chime in when you least expect it and on topics that are completely unpredictable. When they called you had a private conversation. Today it takes place in public. Consumers sometimes comment because they just don’t understand, or have unrealistic expectations, or forget (don’t care) that we run a business and need to make a profit, or are just plain angry over something. We need to respect the fact that employees in a firm will always be outnumbered by consumers. People will just keep coming at you.
Fail Fast and Often
We can’t take our own sweet time. Social years will make online years look like we were standing still. Remember 2000 when we joked about “Online Years?” One year online was equal to five years off line. If you thought that ratio spun your head, try “Social Years” where one month might equal five Online Years! Social Media is not about what we’ve been doing all along. It’s about what we’ve never done before. We will need to learn faster than any previous time. It’s not just a new language, it’s an entirely new world and the wheel has yet to be invented.
My best advice. Do lots of things and count on failure. In fact welcome failure so you can rule things out. The list will grow quickly, but so will your knowledge. Make Social Media everybody’s business in your firm and eventually you’ll develop an edge over the competition and who knows. You may be able to walk into the CMO’s office and say. Give me this and I’ll give you that.
I expected it to be difficult to separate my personal experiences on Facebook as well as what I have read about Mark Zuckerberg from the film experience. It wasn’t. I almost never thought about myself or my FB friends while watching this very engaging story. David Fincher (director) and Aaron Sorkin (writer) have made a compelling and entertaining drama in The Social Network. It’s beautifully framed with an active camera and a luscious palette. The filmmakers capture the moment perfectly.
The story has been repeated many times. Ideas are shared. People go off and do things on their own, having been inspired by these ideas, and create something that becomes successful. There is conflict as the original idea generators think their intellectual property has been stolen and are now entitled to compensation by those who have taken an idea and acted on it. Of course the thing that makes this stand out is that the something created is now the largest web site on the planet and has a market cap of $25 billion.
The story is about who should get the credit and the fortune for inventing Facebook. One thing to remember is there is no longer such a thing as an original idea. I’m defining original as a completely unique thought conceived by a single person alone without regard to time or place. In a vacuum if you will. In today’s converged and connected societies nothing exists in a vacuum. Whatever idea one has, whether it’s in the boardroom, the studio, or even on the field of battle, there are a thousand people (probably more) who are having a parallel thought at the same time. The idea is the easy thing. Executing it is significantly more difficult. I argue that bringing it to life should weigh much more heavily when it comes to granting ownership.
Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), recently spurned by his girlfriend (his ineptness), gets a payback idea to post photos of girls from Harvard on a web site and ask students to vote on who is hotter. He enlists his friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) to provide the algorithm he used for a prior project and sends out a link to the site to the student body. So many people voted that the school’s servers crashed. The seeds of Facebook are born and although the code was written by Mark, the decision engine was provided by Mr. Saverin.
Twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer) read about this event in the school paper and think they may have found the code jockey they’ve been looking for to help them manifest a student connection web site idea. They meet with Mark and he agrees to help.
While working (supposedly) on the Winklevoss project Mark nurtures his own idea, coding day and night and leading to the moment where he makes the request to Network Solutions to purchase thefacebook.com domain. Whenever the project needs money, Eduardo writes a check, so Mark anoints him CFO to his CEO of The Facebook. The twins are not consulted or informed.
The site grows quickly and expands to other colleges and universities across the country. Enter Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), founder of Napster. He wakes up in the bed of a Stanford coed and discovers the site on her laptop. He is intrigued enough to find out who’s behind it and persuades Mark and Eduardo to visit California. Sean uses slick moves and start-up talk to convince Mark that CA is the place to be. Mark bites. Meanwhile Eudardo feels it’s time to monetize the site and takes the Facebook story door to door to major advertising firms in New York, but cannot convince anyone to get on board in any meaningful way. Meanwhile, Sean connects Mark to VC money and the financing has now officially shifted from Eduardo’s modest trust fund to big league start-up funding. Game over on so many levels.
I saw The Social Network and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps a few short weeks apart and have been thinking about the financial chasm that exists between the two coasts ever since. The west coast machine searches for something new, feeds it and watches to see if it will grow. They are the angel investors. But if it doesn’t meet their strict financial hurdles, you can bet they will drop the idea like third period French. Yes billions of dollars vanished during the dot com bust of the late 1990’s, but much was learned and that knowledge and skill was adapted and reused, benefiting companies and government programs. In contrast, the east coast, the more established machine, works to harden their already storied institutions by looking for ways to siphon money from existing systems. When their bubble burst there was not much benefit to anyone. I often read about how Wall Street continues to attract our best and brightest, but fails to return anything of substantial value to the ecosystem. Certainly New York gets a lot of the talent, but there are plenty of brilliant people in the west working just as hard. The west however, does turn out a product, even if it’s code. It’s easy to criticize either side, and we definitely need more transparency.
Mr. Fincher is a craftsman of high order. I go back and watch Fight Club every year. No chases, explosions or reliance on special effects here. It’s acting, dialogue and pacing all the way. A couple of times I felt I was watching a documentary about Facebook. Finally, somebody giving Oliver Stone some competition.
We all know Aaron Sorkin is a genius with words; A Few Good Men, The West Wing and soon, Moneyball. This picture would not be on nearly as many critic’s best 10 lists without Mr. Sorkin’s contributions. At first I felt Trent Reznor was a peculiar choice to compose the soundtrack, but it works. He starts off cold and electronic, perfect coding music. Then bridges to a richer, more intense sound as the story unpacks Mr. Zuckerberg’s quirks and immaturity.
Mark is the central figure here without a doubt. It’s sometimes painful to watch him, almost Asperger’s Syndrome like, in the deposition scenes as he defends his ownership of Facebook. He’s a loner that wants to have friends. Unquestionably brilliant, but not necessarily wise. In the film he is portrayed as someone who puts design and experience ahead of the temptation to sell out his web property, which caused him to lose his friendship with Eduardo. Keeping Facebook pure was more important than the people in his life. Mr. Eisenberg turns in a wonderful performance and is sure to be nominated by the Academy for his effort. For the record, The Winkelvoss twins as well as Mr. Saverin settled for a substantial amount of money to walk away. Eduardo managed to keep his name on the corporate masthead. Appropriate I think.
I highly recommend The Social Network as a movie. For those couple of people who are not yet on Facebook, go on, buy a ticket to the movie. You’ll enjoy yourself. The official movie web site is more interesting than most. Visit it here. Special thanks to my friend Augie Ray who noted that Mr. Zuckerberg could have a pervasive disorder called Asperger’s Syndrome. His review of The Social Network can be read here. I have a son with Asperger’s and can say that there are some striking similarities in the behavior that both young men exhibit.
Photos from The Social Network courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
I’ve got a first day (June 30, 2007) iPhone. The beauty of the iPhone is how seamlessly everything is knitted together. Email, text, contacts, calendar, phone, camera, photo gallery, music library, maps, the Internet. I can get to just about anything I might need to know as long as I have it with me and it’s charged. Not one problem so far.
The concept has always been based on operating system instead of a handset, which has been elevated to a new level with the release of V2.0. Apple combined the iPhone 3G launch with the software release (maybe not such a good idea in retrospect) as well as the applications store. I’m not really tempted to get the 3G model. I just don’t need it. But the apps are delightful. Here are my favorite iPhone applications, so far.
WordPress – Keep up on your blog stats and post on the go.
Twitterrific – I’m finding Twitter to be a great source of information for my professional as well as personal life. The app delivers the big browser experience vs. a string of text conversations you would normally see on your phone screen.
Facebook – Gotta have it if you are on Facebook for the same reasons you need Twitterrific.
WineSnob – An unfortunate name. I love wine, but am not at all snobbish about it. It’s a nice companion whether at a dinner party, a fine restaurant, or shopping to stock up. But know that it simply re-purposes the Wikipedia wine entries. Not a bad thing, but a kind of a killjoy. Hugh Johnson, where are you?
WeatherBug – A meteorologist in your pocket at all times. Since we are now focused on climate change, this could turn out to be the most useful app of all. You can also view live web cams.
Labyrinth LE – The classic maze game brought to life on your iPhone screen. You hold the phone like the box and work your way up the levels of difficulty. It’s missing that wonderful ball bearing rolling across wood sound. Maybe that’s part of the pay version.
myLite – Kind of cheesy, but has come in handy while on the way to my son’s room in the middle of the night so I don’t trip over a plane, train or car. Also used the concert lighter feature last weekend at a friend’s band performance.
Pandora – Your favorite internet stations carry over to your iPhone. Keep the music coming.
NYTimes – Shows up everyday in my driveway (that’s right, the real paper). I don’t always get to it the same day, but I never recycle them without reading, no matter how old they are. The app keeps me up to date on breaking news. Used it today in a meeting. Read an Op-Ed article to the social media team. I read it in the paper while at a stoplight on the way to work. Makes you look sooooo smart.
PangeaVR – View stunning panorama photos from all over the world by accessing their database, or enter a web site URL. Great for photographers. Kind of like sightseeing with your phone. Pangea means entire world.
Nearby – My Platial maps are always close at hand with this app. I can add a new place while I’m right there, or surf the popular tab and explore what’s around me. I’m very impressed at how advanced the current political campaigns are with social media. They’re all over Platial.
I only paid for one of these apps and it was less than $3. Entertain yourself or your kids, stay more tightly connected, be more productive, or just escape. The iPhone application store has it all and it’s dead simple to use.