Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Secrets to Mastering Facebook, Get Ready For F-Commerce!





Dan Schawbel

 With over 700 million users now, Facebook is growing rapidly and becoming more entrenched in our society. In order to learn more about Facebook, and how we should and shouldn’t be using it, I caught up with Mikal E. Belicove, who is a business strategist, author, and writer for Entrepreneur Magazine. He  specializes in content development, market analysis, and messaging/positioning for a select group of individuals and businesses. Mikal’s latest book is The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook. I asked him if Facebook can hurt your career or business, to reveal some Facebook secrets, what the true value of Facebook is, and more.

Could it hurt your career and/or business if you’re not active on Facebook?

Having a strong Facebook presence is more important for businesses than it is for advancing one’s career (in fact, you could easily argue that Facebook has hurt more careers as a result of user naivety than it has helped). In the current marketplace, where discretionary spending is anything but discretionary, and where anyone can attempt to sell anything, businesses must prove why
 

Mikal E. Belicove

they’re special, and one of the best ways to do that is to leverage engagement and word-of-mouth. Facebook now reaches nearly 75 percent of the total U.S. Internet population each month. Businesses that fail to include the world’s largest social utility in their business-aligned communication strategy do so at their own risk.

What are a few Facebook secrets that most people don’t know about?

The Privacy page is deceptively simple; it doesn’t show all privacy settings on one screen. I encourage users to go to their Privacy page and then check the settings for Connecting on Facebook (click View Settings), Sharing on Facebook (click Customize settings), and Apps and Websites (click Edit your settings).

Also, Facebook is in the process of rolling out Check-in Deals. If you’re a consumer, you can check in at a business location using a smartphone or other mobile device to obtain promotional offers. If you’re a business owner, you can use Check-in Deals to promote and drive repeat business. But really, not much is secret on Facebook, because if a feature is cool enough to use, everyone’s talking about it.

Do you think that Facebook is worth $100 billion dollars? Why or why not?

Placing a value on a private company while it’s experiencing exponential growth is an inexact science. That said, Facebook appears to be on track to earn around $4 billion in FY11, which is slightly more than double what I conjecture it earned in FY10. While revenue growth won’t maintain its current pace, the company could earn around $10 billion in 2015. At that rate, with net margins of 15-20 percent and a growth multiple of 20-25x, I peg Facebook today to be worth something more along the lines of $30-$35 billion. And while competition for consumers’ time and discretionary dollars is fierce — and the fact that more people are spending more time on Facebook gives it an incredible potential to generate revenue — unless SMBs realize unmatched ROI and ROE (return on engagement) from the site, I feel $100 billion is nothing more than unbridled enthusiasm.

If you make your entire profile private, can people still access your pictures and updates?

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Facebook
Your name and profile picture don’t have privacy settings, so even if you make your entire profile private, people can still find your name and profile image on Facebook by searching for you by name. As for other pictures you upload and status updates, you can choose to have all of them accessible to only yourself, friends, friends of friends, everyone, or only certain friends. In addition, whenever you post something on Facebook, you can click the lock icon and choose who can see it.

What do you think is the future for Facebook? Will they consume all other social networks?

Certainly not all networks, and “consume” is too strong a word. I suspect Facebook will command the lion’s share of the most popular social networking features. For example, Facebook hasn’t completely replaced photo-sharing networks including Flickr and Photobucket, but it did rise very quickly to become the number one place for sharing photos on the Web. YouTube remains top dog in the video-sharing arena, and I don’t see Facebook ever taking that over. Bottom line… Facebook does an excellent job of incorporating the best of what other more specialized social utilities and platforms offer. You can see this with Facebook’s Groupon clone – Deals. This could make Facebook a one-stop-shop for users and businesses, giving Facebook a huge competitive edge in many social categories.

Dan Schawbel, recognized as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times, is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, a full-service personal branding agency. Dan is the author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future, the founder of the Personal Branding Blog, and publisher of Personal Branding Magazine. He has worked with companies such as Google, Time Warner, Symantec, IBM, EMC, and CitiGroup.
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Attention Facebook Shoppers: Get Ready For F-Commerce

Written by Tim McMullen
Tim McMullen: Shopping Facebook.

Ready or not, we’re approaching the age of F-commerce: Facebook-based retailing.

It’s time for retailers around the world to prepare for the rise of the Facebook consumer, a new breed in convenience-seeking online shoppers. From shoes to plane tickets, it’s all right there on the social network.

Facebook now offers options for retailers to tailor their Facebook page layout to look less like the familiar profile page and more like a Web page. The simple click-and-pay option seems to be attracting more shoppers. And where shoppers flock, retailers follow.

One thing in particular that’s encouraging businesses to participate in F-commerce is the fact that the platform is completely free. There are no hosting or domain fees (yet), and Facebook isn’t keeping portions of your profits. As more and more people adopt social media, F-commerce will only grow and take on more retailers.

Facebook has more than 600 million members, a fat slice of the world’s online population. People want to be social, and shopping is a social act in itself. And retailers are paying attention to the changes taking place within the online shopping world.

When businesses post news or updates to their Facebook account, they hope that users “like” what they have to say. Now, instead of sharing thoughts, people can share discounts and products. “Sally now likes Delta and has purchased two tickets to Hawaii,” could show up in your news feed anytime. Delta, Coca-Cola and Barneys New York are just a few of the major brands that have added a Facebook shop to their fan page.

Best Buy is one retailer that wanted to offer more options for their customers, so they created a Facebook page that has a shop-and-share option. This is in addition to their e-commerce site; savvy sites are not switching but rather adding channels to their arsenal of outlets.

Now, disregard the fake profiles for newborns and people’s cats and go straight for the fastest growing demographic on Facebook: Women over 55. I’m thinking online shopping has a great deal to do with their interest in Facebook. And I couldn’t be more… right.

According to a survey conducted for Kirkland’s, a home decor specialty store with brick-and-mortar and online stores, that’s exactly what this growing audience wants. It’s important for retailers to recognize that they must prepare for F-commerce by engaging their Facebook audience first. With Kirkland’s specifically, coupons and discounts are their game.

s was a virtually unknown retailer in the social commerce space that blew everyone away when they became the sixth-fastest growing fan page on Facebook. Just four days after launching their Cha-Ching! interactive game promotion, Kirkland’s went from 43,000 fans to 140,000. They have since surpassed their goal of 200,000 fans. Now, this is all without actually selling merchandise on their Facebook page. They are still in the engagement stage, working with their customers to make their Facebook site more fun and trustworthy at the same time.

The promotion included a $25,000 cash prize and a chance to win Kirkland’s merchandise in a swap game where people trade virtual merchandise with other players. And everyone who plays the game receives a coupon for future purchases.

This is a positive step into the direction of F-commerce. Interactive games will keep an audience interested, and will solidify pages in terms of getting sales. In the survey, Kirkland’s found a majority of their Facebook customers wanted to save money, and to see merchandise and prices alongside content such as decorating ideas.

After conducting the survey, they saw a purpose and direction for their Facebook page that was different from their online community, mykirklands.com, and they went for it. The survey clearly showed that more and more Facebook users want to engage on Facebook. Campaigns such as the Cha-Ching! promotion are driving users to the social media hub and retailers must quickly follow to meet the demands of the users.

With the Kirkland’s campaign, we saw that 36-45 year old females were more involved with the online community, and that 46-55 year olds were more engaged with the Facebook page (which squashes the belief that F-commerce is limited to young and hip brands). Another interesting find was that the online community members were generally not interested in Facebook. They went online for different reasons.

The critics of F-commerce have begged the question, if Facebook starts to overlap with more traditional means of online shopping, why have two touch points? As we learned from the success of Kirkland’s, it seems that it would be best practice to have multiple touch points because the consumers have the option of how they do their online shopping. There was little crossover between the online users at mykirklands.com and the Facebook users, which shows that there isn’t that universal preference just yet.

It’s no secret that people spend hours on their Facebook pages weekly or even daily, whether it’s on their smart phone, tablet or computer. This sort of accessibility is what’s driving retailers to set up shop on the social network. F-commerce is still in its early stages, but judging by the consumer response so far, many more retailers are sure to begin exploring it within the next few months.

Tim McMullen is President and partner at redpepper, an  integrated marketing agency with offices in Atlanta and Nashville.

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