Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Facebook Tracking is Different from Google or Verizon

Yesterday I announced I left Facebook over ethics, their push for forced sharing, and how they want so much of my personal information like my cell phone or credit card. I was really upset that they will be tracking every user even off Facebook without permission or alerting people. I don't care what the Engineer who responded to the Mashable Article said. He was bullshitting out his ass. You can not bullshit like that and be taken seriously. Facebook does nothing by accident.

Which brings me to why this is different. Google has been fighting censorship in China. They even shut down their site there for a long time moving it to Hong Kong. Most of the phone companies pushed back against the NSA wiretapping during the Bush years. 

Facebook is not this type in my opinion. Their business model is exploitation, vs one that is user centric. Ever Brand makes money providing me a valuable service. Facebook makes money exploiting my content and life. They need the page views and sharing because they wake up with stained underwear from freaking out about 'What if we IPO at only $20bil and lose all that investor money'. If you don't think this isn't on Zuckerberg's mind 24/7 you are in denial. This is a huge weight. Now go to the Fortune 500 and look at the companies worth $20bil or more and ask yourself based on Facebook revenues and unknown profits would they be equal value. I bet 95% of the companies when analyzed are worth more than Facebook when using the fundamentals of sales, assets etc.

When I talk on the phone Verizon doesn't share with my friends the content of that conversation.

When I use Google and surf the web (which btw the average person spends over 90% of their web time NOT on Facebook) they do not share with my friends or my boss where I was and what I did.

My Internet Provider is also my Cable provider. Time Warner isn't telling my friends what show I am watching.

I am not having brands intrude on my life from these activities. I am not getting emails from Brands because they sold my Gmail address. I am not getting telemarketing or even direct mail from any of these providers.

But Facebook wants to do all this. And they are going to do this and make it hard to opt out of this sharing. They will allow your friends to go to your profile and see you are watching a show on Hulu unless you change the privacy settings. How many really want this?


Lastly Facebook still thinks we want this Brand Experience and yet the people have been rejecting this for years. Look at what the people are doing you numbskulls! People are engaging with brands as less than 1% of their Facebook activity. BUT guess what? They do engage with Brands every day online and off social! Every day. On their own terms. Not Facebook's. Not a brand page terms. If you ever look at the Open Graph LIKES on non-Facebook sites the participation is technically zero. If you have 500k Views of a page and you get even 1000 Likes that is 0.2% which is zero. I see lower participation rates.

And since it's value to me as a Comm Platform has diminished over the last 2+ years, and with the clutter from the network making it impossible to truly stay in touch with friends will I miss it? Not sure. But with the 40% drop in time spent per user per day since April 2010 I am not the only one who has seen the value proposition drop significantly. And while I am a proponent of Social Media we use it a lot less than the Social Media Experts, Mashables, and Networks want you to believe. A Lot Less!

Don't forget we live in a Marketing/Advertising/Media bubble and while you might think I am just a Facebook hater, I do use advise on it, but it is a small part of the marketing mix. And since my career won't be affected if Facebook succeeds or if it fails I have a pretty objective view vs many of my peers who are desperate for the success of Social Media because that is what they built their career around.

My career? I help brands sell product. That is what I do. And I am free to do it with the best tools and strategies out there. Direct Sales, Social Media, Marketing, Mobile, TV, Radio, even Print if it fits their needs.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Social Tuesday - Why the Chief Alien Left Facebook

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the changes to Facebook. I have heard the Timeline is really slick. I wanted early access but the only two ways I could do this was by giving Facebook my cell phone number or a credit card. No way jose. I trust Facebook less than I trust Russia to have free and honest elections. 

Recently I received from Spotify a bunch of invites that I could send to my Facebook Friends. Now really all they need is access to people in my network using Spotify. They don't need access to everything about me and my friends. But here is what the APP requested:

I mean really? Maybe Spotify should come into the shower with me, or my bed when I am with my girlfriend? All APPs ask this and you are crazy to allow it.

Then the changes came out for F8 and for once Mashable allowed an article damning of Facebook:

Facebook’s New Features Might Not Be as Private as You Think [UPDATED]

Which got me really aggro. Tomorrow I will blog about why this is different than Google or my ISP from seeing everything I do.

So to me this was the last straw. But I have two problems which make leaving Facebook harder than for most people. Most of my real life friends (meaning people I spent hours and days and weeks and months in person hanging out with) are in Los Angeles. They are not on the Twitter or Google Plus yet. I have a lot of them. About 200+ because I was part of the underground music and art scene. I risk losing touch with them.

Secondly is my career change to Marketing/Advertising. How can I consult on Social Media if I am not on Facebook, at least while they are still the prime network. I obviously have many blog posts analyzing the network's value, reach, success and failures. I even run a client's Brand Page!

Big dilemma. But then I read these two Blog Posts and the Media Post article with reader comments:

Some thoughts on quitting Facebook

Those analogue days

 What Do You Think of Facebook Timelines vs. Profiles?

And so I decided to go for it. I removed the cookies for Facebook from Firefox my prime web browser. No longer will I be freaked out by seeing my Facebook log in on non-Facebook websites. I created a dummy account to run my client's Brand page and I am using Chrome only for that purpose. And this is allowing me to still see what Brands are doing. My job is to help my clients sell. If that means using Facebook while the network is still alive I am ok with that. I also would be ok if Facebook turned off tomorrow. It will not hurt my client's businesses.

I also feel this is Facebook's Netflix moment. My feeling is forcing this over sharing is going to have people leaving. But will G+ or Diaspora or another network take advantage of this opening? I don't know. Meanwhile I am using Twitter, G+, Email, SMS Text, and the Phone. 

But as I pondered this move I thought how much am I really using Facebook personally? Not a lot. I update my status 1-2x per month. Most people do once every 4 to 5 days. I comment on posts from friends. But only 2-6 a day. I LIKE a bunch of brand pages but even with only 300 friends and 150 Pages my feed is so cluttered I rarely see anything from Brands. In reality I am not benefiting much from Facebook. And what I found interesting was yesterday at the OMMA in New York one of the panels brought up the fact that teens and millennials actually choose private methods of communicating far more than anything. Specifically text messaging. There are 182 SMS texts per Facebook status update on average. For that age group it is double that. Which has me thinking for all the listening and engagement on Social Media it is what is said behind your brands back that will make or break your brand. Not what is said online publicly.

And thus today is my second day of my life after Facebook. When is yours?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Mom is an Uber Influencer Klout will never find!

My mom is funny. She joined Facebook specifically to keep up with friends and family. I think the only brand she has Liked is one of my clients. She doesn't use any Facebook features or games except for Instant Messaging.

One issue I have with the online influence businesses is the lack of connectivity to off line actions. They really just measure online and even at that in my opinion they pretty much all fail miserably because they don't know who people are. But since 99.9% of our daily communication takes place privately or in non-social networks: Email. In person. Surfing the internet. Phone. SMS Text. Media (watching TV is communication, viewing a Billboard is communication) I feel they miss so much to be effective. And I don't see this ever changing.

Kind of like telling someone to focus on reaching customers through Facebook when 9 in 10 US consumers are not reachable today via Facebook. Do you want to negate 90% of your market?

Which brings me to my loving mother. She logs into Facebook several times a day (see yesterday's 85/15 rule).She sees photos, updates, so much from people in our extended family, people we used to know back on Long Island (folks moved), and friends where they live now. She never shares this information online. But she TELLS EVERYONE in person and by phone. She is one of the 75% of people who log into Facebook and take no actions (This is a fact based on the activity numbers Facebook has published over the years) each day.

If you can reach my mom you can reach A LOT OF PEOPLE. But fact is she will never have a Klout score and no influence rating company will ever know that my mom has Uber Social Influence. Yet my mom shops til she drops. She is the exact demographic Brands need to reach. She shops online. She opens email advertisements. She reads circulars and loves sales. She even clicks digital ads regularly, gasp I know rare breed but they exist! Yet you will never find her via Klout or Peer Index or Social Media. She tells people what she bought all the time. She watches a ton of TV and goes to the movies. She is one of the most social people I have ever known. She shares all of this. But off line! She can't be reached on the Twitter or a Blog or Facebook.

Dear Brands you can reach my mom. Many brands do. But they do it the old fashioned way. And they reap the rewards. How are you going to reach my mom?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Social Tuesday - Are We Really That Social?

I don't think so. In fact I think we are incredibly less Social than Facebook, Twitter, Mashable, the VC's, and everyone else who is involved in Social Media, Social Media Marketing etc will have you believe.

I like to do real world investigations. Like being at a party with 50 people and being the only person using Twitter. And NO ONE was using Facebook Mobile. Or Checking in at a Minor League Baseball Game with 5000 in attendance to find only 11 people checked in total between Foursquare and Gowalla. Or checking out Places on Facebook and finding so few check ins.

And how come we only watch 0.5 Videos per month on Facebook? How come when you look at retweets and shares the volume is so low compared to the number of...ahem...supposed participants. It is a hard fact. For every 2 log ins to Facebook today there will be only 1 action (Status Update, Link Share, Comment, or Like). ONE ACTION per two people! That is not very social to me. And if one person takes 2 actions then 3 people took NO ACTION.

I truly believe in the 85/15 rule. This is not something I crafted but it is true 85% of all Digital Advertising Clicks are done by 15% of the online population. I feel the same holds true for Social Media. 85% of all Activity is done by 15% of all users. And the activity is so huge from this 15% that the numbers look AMAZING!

I have sliced and diced the numbers over and over here. This blog is littered with proof of my hypothesis. Actually it is more a fact than a hypothesis now.

Twitter and Facebook are nice and give you a forum to engage when customers want that. But you will never engage with 99% of your customers via Social Media. At least not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not ever. Get over it. The faster you stop lying to yourself (Thank you John Falchetto very timely) about the power of social media to be harnessed for your business the better. It helps your business. But it will never drive your business. The success stories for Social Media for Brands and Businesses are so few and far between they are the exception vs the norm. And yes everyone is going to tout the exception as proof it works. Happens every time I bring this up.

So what does this mean for your business? The nuts and bolts to me for a small business marketing plan will be focus on PR, local print/online media, and community outreach efforts. Yes this includes PAID ADVERTISING! Make sure your website is nice and that the SEO is in place. Look for places to list your business that make sense like Yelp! or Professional Directories. And yes integrate Social Media Tools where it makes sense. But don't lose focus on what really drives your business. Great product. Great service. Right price.

And most important...treat every customer like they are gold.