Social media ROI, where’s the ROI in that?

What’s the ROI of conversing with someone while queued to buy a PEET’s coffee? What’s the ROI of engaging other parents and teachers at a monthly PTA meeting? What’s the ROI of swapping stories at a monthly book club meet-up? Common sense tells us these interactions are inherently unquantifiable, yet immensely important and powerful.

Now compare this line of thought to the recent Fortune.com article that digs into some reasons why Facebook–in its current iteration–may not be as valuable to marketers. Essentially, Fortune points out that despite the fact that 1 out of 8 minutes spent online is spent on Facebook, marketers are still trying to determine whether buying ads on Facebook is worth the investment given that Facebook ads perform half as well as banner ads. This said, certain firms like Virgin America have had positive experiences with Facebook and a social presence generally (could this success simply be that their service is stellar, and the promotion of this stellar experience hearkens back to Godin’s concepts around making something remarkable?)

So what about the conversation? Or “MONETIZING THE CONVERSATION”? Fortune cites a Razorfish Liminal study pointing out that customer “relationship” management (er, CRM), as a concept to interact with customers, is shifting:

It’s not enough anymore for marketers to have a top-down mentality, simply making sure they have a presence on multiple channels, but to understand what makes some customers still use an 800 number, while others reach out to brands on Facebook.

Here’s the problem: the above assumes your customers want a relationship with you. They don’t. Yes, they will engage with you, yet only if it is on their terms. The findings in “Liminal” demonstrate that, in the future, marketers will need to find ways to sustain those engagements over time, regardless of channel, whether they are traditional, emerging or new.

Wow. Customers don’t want a relationship with a brand? But want engagement? Multi-channel marketing strategies tied to understandable analytics that yield actionable business intelligence is a must, it seems. Enter Stage Right: Gahlord Dewald.

Facebook privacy vs publicity debate

Facebook is at the epicenter of issues surrounding “publicity vs privacy” as marketers seek to leverage the social web to engage existing and new consumers. This CNET article is a really good summary of issues swirling around the latest changes Facebook has made to its data sharing policies. Here are the salient take-aways:

  • Facebook marketing “partners” (e.g., shopping sites, news sites, etc) have seen huge jumps in referral traffic after implementing Facebook’s “social plug-ins”
  • Despite the success Facebook marketing partners may experience, security issues have emerged with the implementation of these social plug-ins
  • Facebook’s brand image is rising with adults 18-34 but dropping with adults 35+

Brands appear to benefit by tightly integrating Facebook into their customer outreach efforts. For example, this MediaWeek article (thanks @ReggieRPR for the heads-up) reports that Starbuck’s Facebook page is valued at $20 million. Nevertheless, the CNET article points out interesting issues that could impact Facebook’s marketer outreach efforts. The core of the issue is the inherent tension between publicity vs privacy; that is, just because someone makes something public does not mean they necessarily want it publicized. Danah Boyd in her keynote address at the 2010 SXSW Interactive made this latter point, as well as the following observations:

  • Technologists’ have a mantra that “privacy is dead”, but this is not true
  • People still care about privacy and the “public by default” “private through effort” dichotomy represents an inherent tension for individuals wanting to navigate online social worlds (Danah was referencing the fact that in many social networks users’ personally identifiable information and activities conducted through these social networks are rendered “public” by default and that users have to proactively change their privacy settings to make such information and activities less public or wholly private)
  • Marketers should remember that just because you can “see” someone does not mean they want to be “seen” by you
  • A Pew study showed that most adult social network users are privacy conscious (see related Pew study here showing that younger adults seem to be exerting even more control over their digital reputations)
  • Product developers need to think through publicity-vs-privacy-vs-control issues if they want to develop and launch successful products that tap the inherent benefits of the online social world

It will be interesting to see whether consumers will or will not readily use Facebook’s social plug-ins as privacy issues continue to gain mainstream media attention. What are your views?

Photo: alancleaver_2000

New Facebook Home Page Useful for Real Estate Pros

Here’s an excellent article on the PR 2.0 blog about the new homepage design features Facebook will soon release. The article gives a reasoned analysis of the new Facebook feature-set as well as possible implications for brands, individuals, and services like Twitter and Friendfeed.

What could be considered the Wall 2.0 or quite simply, a personal or branded activity stream or timeline for people, public figures, and brands, the company is placing your in-network and external network activity at the front-and-center of your public profile for friends, associates, and followers to not only stay up to date with you[sic] aggregated Web activity, but also participate in the stream.

New Facebook Home Page
New Facebook Home Page

The new Facebook home page likely will have positive implications for real estate professionals. First, the new filter feature presumably allows you to separate your contacts into separate channels, monitor those channels, and more easily converse within those channels. This allows you to use Facebook as more of a social media multichannel marketing tool (i.e., by monitoring separate channels you can prioritize those channels and, thus, respond appropriately and in a timely manner as needed). Second, the real-time “stream” feature will give you an accurate pulse of your sphere’s goings on, which is useful in choosing which contact to engage immediately or at a later time (this feeds into the multichannel marketing nature of the filter feature). Finally, the “publisher” aspect of the new Facebook home page seems to give you a more useful–and engaging– way to update your sphere.

Facebook Engagement Advertising for Real Estate

Owyang delivers an excellent summary of Facebook’s new “Engagement Advertising” tool. This tool seems well-suited to real estate brands that want to showcase a particular niche or market they serve, particular the “Fan Style” ad targeting luxury verticals (it could also be interesting to allow the Facebook community to “gift” someone a $50,000,000 property to generate buzz on that property using the “Virtual Gifts Style” ad platform).

Revenue considerations of social networks

This paper points out that social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook have huge potential for high advertising revenue gains because “the cost of gaining new customers is practically nothing [since] users join voluntarily and provide their own content through their profiles. In addition, the cost of running the sites’ web servers is relatively low.”

The authors do point out, however, that significant revenue gains might be limited because these sites must constantly innovate to retain and attract new “customers”, it’s easy to launch rival social networks, and consumers have lots of choices as to which social networks to use.

Facebook history lesson

Youth, sometimes, needs to embrace history. Anyone remember DoubleClick’s privacy fiasco in 2000, the resulting state and federal government investigation, and the apex of it’s resolution? Seems like Facebook could have learned a few things from tech-bubble-run-up-history–at least with respect to how to manage a blow-up from a PR perspective (DoubleClick is still around, after all). And speaking of bubble-run-up, check out this vid.

UPDATE: Obviously FaceBook backed off on this approach. Personally, I’ve experienced less interruptive advertising lately on FaceBook.

Sourcing Web 2.0 customers, serving existing customers

By using Facebook, an agent could create their own Web 2.0 brand while controlling their sphere of influence and network. Real Living has already established this platform for it’s agents (or was it an agent, or group of agents, establishing this platform Real Living?). What a great way to kick start the engagement process while giving agents the ability to serve existing customers and find new customers (particularly echo boomers).