the grass is greener on the internet

If I were Facebook
August 30, 2010, 10:18 pm
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A random thought came to me today about the future revenue potential for Facebook.

Facebook’s main value is the huge volume of users that now habitually use it. It has the power to change daily schedules and the way we interact.

1. Networks that aren’t Facebook have made the mistake of trying to replicate Facebook in the belief that they can then get a similar number of users. They can’t. Once there was Facebook, and it had become the place to store your information and you didn’t want to move.

2. Facebook tried to make money from this value in several ways, each time misunderstanding their value.

  • they wanted to sell the fountain of information – but people came to Facebook to share with people they know, not companies. Privacy alarm bells rang.
  • they wanted to sell ad space because of all the eyeballs they have – but people are only interested in the content their network has generated, and very few companies are finding the ads effective.

Facebook was trying to sell what they’d already managed to capture, but their users didn’t want to be sold.

3. Facebook’s REAL value is in the huge realm of possibility that is created when lots of people are in the same space. It’s not about trying to pick parts of them individually but putting them together in new ways.

Let’s take the business community, for example. A general group of people that would pay to be connected in smarter ways, because for them it pays off.

Do you use LinkedIn AND Facebook? It’s inconvenient monitoring both. What if you could easily create professional profiles, picking which content you want to be drawn from your existing profile and which would be different? What if you could be recommended pe0ple to do business with based on your interests as well as industry and location?

Would you pay a nominal fee for that?

Or what about a service where you could send post to Facebook addressed to a username and have it forwarded to the user – so that postal addresses can remain anonymous? (Hard to pull off, but do-able.) It’s another way to make Facebook indispensible for connecting people.

I feel like there’s got to be another way to approach the problem. Thoughts?


Mazda keeps it simple on Facebook
April 26, 2010, 4:08 pm
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I think the conversation went something like this…

“Guys, we need a Facebook campaign. But don’t worry, I’ve got it!

What kind of people do we want to attract? Party people!

What do party people do on Facebook? Post photos!

So…let’s run a party photos competition on Facebook!

It’s going to be legen– wait for it… DARY!”

Mazda has developed an app for submitting any party photo you choose, and best one each day gets a prize. Easy to get involved and spread the word to all the other ‘party people’ you know.

I guess we get all tied up with brand engagement sometimes. But does this activity really promote our brand values? Then it just gets too hard for people to come up with a video to outline your 3 core values and second tier of 5 other brand wanks for the 20-28 age group in exactly 28 seconds. So nobody gets involved.

Here it’s just fun, free stuff and some zoom zoom. Simple.

Thanks Mazda for making it fun!

Online friends are not for real
July 20, 2009, 1:12 pm
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…and I wish this ad wasn’t.

online friends

“Be confident! But not too confident because your online friends don’t really like you.”

Clearasil seems to be struggling with mixed messages. On their ‘be yourself for real’ website they’re challenging image distortion on online networks by teenagers.

The premise is that you should ‘keep it real’ because making yourself look better online doesn’t improve you as a person. To correspond with keeping it real, three teenagers are used as role models to talk about how they deal with image problems and online friendship.

Interestingly, none of Clearasil’s ‘real voices’ have any acne problems at all.

The point about your Facebook friends not necessarily being your ‘real’ friends seems moot. Most of Clearasil’s respondents seem to acknowledge that online friendship is a different level anyway – according to ‘The Pulse’.

But there’s a whole other can of worms. They seem to be talking about looking cooler in terms of touching up your profile pictures on Facebook. (Makes sense – don’t use Photoshop, buy Clearasil.) This is only a small part of the image control that goes on; try quizzes, friend hoarding, camerawhoring, status updates, detagging, events, groups… Risky pool to dip your toes into.

Still so far the dialogue has managed to stay in safer territory, through control of the ‘shout box’ – questions asked by the ‘real voices’ and then answered by users.

To give you an idea of how much ‘dialogue’ is actually going on, as it currently stands their Alexa ranking is around the 2,000,000 mark and average time spent on the pages is 2.3 min per day.

They’ve tried to compromise between open dialogue and directed conversation. But you just can’t compromise on authenticity.

Though it might be an interesting resource for understanding how teenagers really feel about online networks.

Clearasil, if someone liked me just because I had clear skin, would they really be my friend? I’m worried about it. Like, srsly omg. Txt me bk.

No, THIS might be the best Facebook ad
July 16, 2009, 5:39 pm
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I find myself in a very unique position on this lazy holiday afternoon, refreshing a Facebook page over and over again.

No, I’m not stalking the guest list for tonight’s party…I’m trying to re-find an ad after being too trigger happy with the ‘close’ button.

Well, to quote those true crime shows, ‘THIS IS A RECONSTRUCTION’**

District 8 Facebook ad

There are few banner ads we actually respond to, but in a recession it’s a pretty good bet that there will be people looking for jobs. It grabs your attention.

Then you look at the picture. And the text. It becomes pretty clear that it’s not a real job. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.

But the idea of a job involving ‘non-humans’ sounds a bit quirky, and you wonder what on earth it could be. It captures your interest.

So yes, I clicked. And not surprisingly, it’s part of an integrated online campaign for a new movie, District 9.

They seem to have avoided the Facebook page/news feed/Twitter combination which is apparently standard now-a-days, opting for an interactive, media-heavy network of three sites.

The first, linked from the ad, is the ‘Multi-National United’ site with job postings, overviews of a mysterious company and a countdown headed ’20 years in the making’. The other two sites explore different aspects of the movie’s plot.

Integrated marketing is difficult because each part has to tell its own story while still linking into a whole. The Matrix is a great example. The movie was one part, but the story was also built up through secret sites, codebreaking, games and other artistic works based on the same philsophy and alternate reality.

In this case, all they need to do to sell the movie is create enough interest that when you see the name District 9 outside a cinema one lazy afternoon you’ll think ‘hey…why not’.

Being always on the lookout for more facebook ads to bring you, I will of course be on the lookout on my upcoming birthday, as I hear advertisers can now target ads specifically to the lucky facebook users. You’ve been warned.

**May not be actual text or pictures, graphic the property of Sony. No humans or non-humans were harmed in the making of this picture.

Super Models or Social Media
June 8, 2009, 7:18 pm
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…or both?


Look carefully, boys. These girls don’t just want to be the next supermodels, they’re also your next ‘social media experts’.

When I received an invite to the launch party for SUPERMODELME I was about to dismiss it as another Singaporean fashion event I couldn’t go to, but it turns out this is no ordinary reality TV show.

Sure, it’s another cliche concept; put 10 hot girls together in a house with the shared dream of being a supermodel and watch the inevitable catfights and gratuitous fashion shoots. But here’s what’s different…

For one thing, it’s not on TV. The show will air online twice a week (starting June 16), with a constant interactive platform for viewers to talk to contestants and each other. Each of the models already has a Youtube video and a Twitter account, with rumours that the girls will be compared on how many followers they can attract. I think my vote goes with @fiona_smm – she seems to be ruling Twitter tactics so far.

++ no fights with broadcasting producers or competing for prime spots

++ the best models need to be good at interacting with people and doing promotions

** just waiting for them to figure out twitpic and photoblogging…

The much-hyped development is the use of ‘Hyperspot’, which will allow viewers to click on the videos to find out everything from who did the models’ hair to the price of their shoes.

+- another nail in the coffin for TV advertising?

++ extra value for advertisers in finding out the products with the most clicks as well as resulting sales (it’s like having pay per view AND pay per click!)

Of course, another bonus is that an online show is accessible to everyone, and with contestants coming from across the world it looks like they’re hoping to pick up a global audience. The winner is touted to become Asia’s ‘next hottest face’ and with Singapore being a popular testing ground for models it wouldn’t be surprising to see them go beyond that.

It also goes without saying that they’re on Facebook and Twitter.

Combine this withVIP access levels on their website and exclusive parties (which will most likely be covered online shortly after) and you have a very luxe, slick social media model.

Then again, this isn’t the first super-concept by Refinery Media‘s Karen Seah…another of her brainchilds (brainchildren??) supperclub ‘Trybe’ at Mimolette uses Facebook groups to determine their guestlist. The catch? It’s secret, and you can only get an invite once you have friended their doorbitch account.

++ why refuse people at the door when you can check out their fb profile first?

SUPERMODELME might just fill the hole in my procrastination left by the Gossip Girl break.

— hello failing exams…

How far will Twitter go?
April 15, 2009, 8:49 pm
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With enough media mentions to make Apple jealous, social networking’s belle of the ball Twitter has been recruiting new users left and right who want to know, what makes Twitter so different?

That same question is still being asked by existing users in the hope that it’ll help them figure out what the next big thing in social networking will be.

But social networking ain’t just social networking. There’s different types of interaction…

Facebook, Messenger programs – they’re like having a party with your friends in a pub. Though you get a few friends of friends and the occasional random seeking attention, by and large you can keep things to just the people you know.

LinkedIn, chat rooms, message boards – they’re like a networking event. A few familiar faces but mostly you’re there to meet people who are interested in the same things as you.

But Twitter…Twitter is the equivalent of busking. There’s a lot of strangers going past; some will stop, others will just walk on by.

The thing is, you keep talking no matter how many people are listening. Except Twitter has given you the ability to listen to a lot of buskers at the same time. Everyone becomes a busker. There’s a race to get the most people watching. But what really matters at the end of the day is how many you’ve influenced enough to give you mone– I mean, attention.

[Attention, money; they become comparable in this case because everyone’s got limited amounts, some are more willing or able to give them than others.]

Can we use this to predict what the next form of socialising will be? No. If it were that logical, it would probably be out there by now – and if I had the answer I wouldn’t be telling you. 😛

But it DOES tell us a few things about how long Twitter will last.

You stay at a party longer because the people you know are there. You stay at a networking event because you’ve met interesting people or want to meet more. But a busker will stay for the money, the adoring eyes and the opportunity to make friends with a couple of people after the show.

For those not following the metaphor – retention for Twitter will most likely only require keeping a tipping point in the number of total users as opposed to having a tipping point within every user interest group or clique. That means, once users have an established crowd they’re likely to stay. Conversely, it also means there’s less pressure for them to stay if they have a smaller crowd because they’re not losing contact with friends.

On a side note, the beginnings of relationships that are built on Twitter need to go into another medium before they start to mean anything. Maybe that’s something for the next social networking site to consider…

Best Facebook ad I’ve seen
March 15, 2009, 11:26 am
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There’s been general lamentation on the lack of effectiveness of Facebook ads. But I have to admit this one caught my eye…


The ‘friend request’ has been built in just like a ‘people you may know’ request. Of course, it only makes sense as part of a larger campaign involving Chuck as the new Chupa Chups mascot…

Beats ‘Make $500 Daily Online’ any day.