How should Brand Managers approach the Social Graphs of Facebook Connect and OpenID?

December 7, 2008

Over the past week, it would be hard not to notice the debate around social graphs and in particular, Facebook Connect versus OpenID.  The folks over at ReadWriteWeb summed it up best when they wrote:

This battle isn’t about “single sign-on” – it’s about the payload that comes with it (friend networks, personal data, maybe more), it’s about the developer communities, usability and ownership. It’s very important to the future of our user experience online and it’s a fascinating study in contrasts.

The importance was further embedded in my mind after I finished a stellar presentation from the folks at Razorfish where they envision the potential for social graphs for brands.  As they put it:

We believe that portable social graphs coming from Facebook, MySpace, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are going to transform how consumers interact with digital technology and each other. Marketers and web product managers must take notice today.

So what does this mean for Brand Managers?

In my eyes, Social Graphs have the potential to be one of the biggest influences on our Digital Strategies for years to come.

But don’t just take my word for it.  Consider what Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang outlined as key takeaways from the Razorfish presentation.

  • The social graph, when linked with traditional websites will radically change how we find, research, purchase, and support products.
  • Reviews, ratings, and critiques about products will become more relevant as you can start to get information from your own network.
  • Soon, social technologies will be pervasive and will impact every website –even if they choose not to participate
  • Brands, and their interactive marketing agencies, are starting to include social elements in all aspects of their marketing efforts.

Consider these opportunities for brands that Razorfish outlined:

  • Key influencer identification:  Brands make a lot of guesses today to determine influencers.  But imagine the potential if you could easily see the number of Twitter followers a person has, the number of Facebook groups they belong to and the number of posts they do on their blog.
  • Product suggestions through profile scraping:  Amazon gets a lot of praise for their product recommendations.  But consider how much more powerful these reco’s would be if they could also use all the information listed in your online profiles.
  • See reviews from people you know:  Pretty self explanatory.  I’d much rather see reviews from my circle of friends & co-workers than wade through hundreds of reviews from strangers.
  • Consult your friends at the point of purchase:  If your Social Graph is connected to an eCommerce engine, you could instantly ask your friends for advice on a purchase without leaving the buying process.

Obviously the potential of Social Graphs should not be debated.  Instead, the debate should be on which format offers the biggest opportunity for Brand Managers.  Should we side with one format?  Or should we offer consumers both sign-ins as part of our digital brand experiences?  Or should we sit on the sidelines and see what consumers decide?  Or should we use our influence as brands (and holders of marketing budgets) to force the companies to work together to create a common Social Graph for the entire web?

What do you think?

NOTE: For another interesting take on social graphs, you should read the thoughts of Louis Gray of Google Friend Connect.

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Why I’m Loving the new LinkedIn Applications

November 3, 2008

I have been a big fan of LinkedIn for a long time.  But its never been one of those social networking sites that I visit every day or spend much time on.  Instead, I would bounce onto the site when I needed to add a new business connection or update my profile.

But that might just change thanks to the new LinkedIn Applications that were launched last week.  While they only have a handful of applications right now, I am already finding them tremendously useful for tapping into information about my business network.  While they have similarities to what you might find on Facebook, the real difference is the type of network you are tapping into.  Each and every application on LinkedIn is extremely relevent to my business network.  Take for instance the following:

SlideShare: If you are regular reader of Hard Knox Life, you know I love presentations.  Now, thanks to the LinkedIn App, I can see when my network posts a new presentation.  Why is this so important?  Despite my heavy use of SlideShare, I don’t follow many people on the site, which means I miss new presentations from friends.  That’s all going to change now.

Reading List by Amazon: I’m a big reader and I’m always looking for recommendations from friends.  But I’ve found most of the recommendations happen face to face, which means I end up reading what every P&G’er is reading.  Now I can get the opinion of all my friends to see if that new Seth Godin book is worth the time.

My Travel by TripIt: I started using Upcoming a few months ago to track my business travel.  So I was a little disappointed to see TripIt as the travel app on LinkedIn.  But I still see a huge value of being able to see who else might be where I’m traveling, especially since the new job means my travel will be increasing quite a bit.  We’ll see if TripIt wins me over.

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Weekly Round-Up: 8-19-08

August 19, 2008

Another crazy week of travels, this time to Cincinnati for house-hunting and some really interesting digital meetings/trainings.  In the meantime, here is what caught my eyes the past couple of days:

  • CPG Brands Better Buy Paid Search– Yahoo and Mediavest just released a study that said “brands generated an average 160% increase in unaided awareness by being present in standard sponsored-text search results compared with when consumers weren’t exposed to their search ads.”  This backs up results released by Google a couple of weeks ago as well.
  • Map of Pop vs Soda vs Coke in US – This is one of the coolest graphics I have seen in awhile.  As a “pop” guy living in the heart of “Coke” country, this just fascinates me.  What can I say, I’m a nerd.
  • Techno/Marketer: The Face of Facebook e-book– Matt Dickman of Fleishman-Hillard provides this simple “snapshot of what the real face of Facebook looks like on a Global and US level.”  A perfect, quick read for marketers and Brand Managers.
  • Web Strategy by Jeremiah: The Evolution of Brands on Twitter– Jeremiah Owyang is consistently one of the most rel event and interesting reads on-line for marketers.  He does it again with this easy walk-through of how a brand should wade in the waters of Twitter.
  • David Armano: The Micro-Site Isn’t Dead (It’s Just Not Useful) – A must read for every Brand Manager and marketer, especially since this is coming from an agency guy who works for a company designing a lot of micro-sites for brands (including P&G brands).

Stop writing the obituary, Social Media hasn’t killed e-mail

August 18, 2008

The folks over at ShareThis posted a very interesting chart detailing the “sharing activities” of their users. 


While it may come to a shock to some, e-mail is still king and is used by 35% of ShareThis users when they want to pass along an interesting online article or post.  In fact, e-mail is used the same as the top 6 major Social Media sites combined (Facebook, MySpace, digg,, StumbleUpon & Reddit). 

Lesson to Brand Managers:  Social Media is a rising force in the digital world.  But don’t forget that traditional digital like e-mail is still a very, very big player that isn’t going away soon.

By the way, ShareThis is one of many up and coming Cincinnati based New Media companies.  While Chicago is trying to justify itself as the New Media capital of the world, Cincy needs credit where credit is due for being a major center of the marketing industry.

Weekly Round-Up 4-18-2008

April 18, 2008

Latest and greatest that caught my eye this week:

  • The Economics of Social Media – Very interesting conference taking place in LA at the end of April.  Wish I could make it out there…
  • Ian Schafer: Integrated (Big) Agency Model -The CEO of Deep Focus asks if all the reshuffling at major holding company agencies is really going to work.  Ian nails the answer when he writes “Brands need smaller, more nimble, more innovative agencies built as integrated problem solvers from the ground-up — with creativity as its religion and the ability to deliver experiences (with the results to back it up) as its practice.”
  • Merging Real World and the Internet – Very interesting facts…”Gartner Group predicts that by 2011, 80% of internet users will participate in at least 1 virtual world. While Second Life has received about 99% of the media’s attention, it only accounts for about 1% of all the users globally. Globally, sales of items in virtual worlds account for $1.5 billion.”
  • What I Want a Social Media Expert to Know – I would love to see a count of how many people claim to be “Social Media Experts.”
  • Facebook Ads Don’t Rock -Bob Gilbreath put Facebook to test to see if advertising on the social network could drive traffic.  Unfortunately for MSFT and the $15 billion valuation they put on the site, Facebook ads didn’t deliver at all.
  • A Billion Dollars in Internet Advertising is Wasted -Interesting study on where Internet advertising is going and what parts arent working at all.

How do you measure Social Media?

March 24, 2008

Ian Schafer points us to a great article/discussion over at Adweek on the metrics of Social Media.  In my opinion, this is one of the biggest issues facing the industry right now.  The largest advertisers (like P&G) have embraced the traditional aspects of social media, putting up banner ads on MySpace, etc.  We are experimenting in order to figure out how to fully embrace social media but measures are the struggle in order to get total buy-in.  As the article points out:

That makes it hard to compare data from social media with other measures, said Marcel Lebrun, CEO of Radian6, a social media tracking firm. “The online ad world has page views, impressions and clicks,” he said. “That kind of thing doesn’t exist yet” in social media. 

I highly encourage you to read the full article here.  Also, I would love to hear your thoughts on how the industry should think about social media metrics?  How can we overcome the hurdle?

Weekly Round-Up 3-19-2008

March 19, 2008

Lots of great stuff around this week.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Is the Agency Model Broken?:  I’ve had this debate/discussion with several of my agency friends.  I’ll write more on my opinion this weekend but great post to get you thinking.
  • The conversation at AdAge goes digital: I was really interested in how Twitter exploded at SXSW the other.  It seems that things are going the same way at the conferences this week.  This stuff interested me enough that I am going to give Twitter a shot to see what all this buzz is about.
  • Give Up Owning the Brand:  Love this.  Great advice for brands when thinking about Youth Marketing.
  • Facebook about to pass MySpace in worldwide traffic:  Very interesting.  “Facebook continues to close rapidly on MySpace’s visitor total: At 100.7 million uniques in January, Facebook is now just about 8% smaller than MySpace’ 109.3 million. A year ago, MySpace’s worldwide lead was nearly 4x.”