Given the number of things written about Facebook and social networking in any given week, I suppose I could devote every edition of Six of the Best to this topic. Might be a bit boring. But this week, there was enough critical mass of things that I "favorited," starred or otherwise remembered to warrant a special edition, starting with the excellent summary of social networking developments in The Economist. Plus its Facebook's 6th birthday and it just passed the 400 million user milestone. So, why not?
1) A world of connections: The Economist Special Report (via subscription!)
A comprehensive review of social networking. The report charts the rise of online communities from "ghettos for geeks" to "vast public spaces" for millions of people. It says that the two greatest achievements of social networks have been that they have brought humanity to a place that was was once cold and technical and that they have become superb tools for mass communications. The most interesting section of the report for me was the analysis of why Facebook has grown so fast and why, unlike some of the early pioneers (MySpace), it may be impossible to knock it off its pedestal (unless it really screws up).
2) 11 Mind-Blowing Reasons Your Company Needs Facebook: Convince&Convert (via @benasmith)
This list of eleven reasons includes both stats like the average time spent on site (55 minutes), the # of sites using Facebook Connect (80,000 (wow!)) and developments like the algorithm-driven news feed which filters for content based on your interactions with the author in the past, and interactions by your friends with that content. From now on, if you're boring, you won't make the cut.
3) Pepsi push harnesses Facebook potential: Financial Times (via @BrandDigital)
As widely reported, Pepsi is taking a pass and will not be advertising during the Superbowl for the first time in 23 years (which, P.S., has approx 12 minutes of actual playing time). Instead Pepsi is going online with a huge digital campaign. Pepsi is hoping that the direct connection to customers through fan pages and applications will foster stronger and lasting connections between its brands and its consumers. One of its programs is the Pepsi Refresh Project where its giving away grants to fund great ideas.
4) Einstein Boosts Facebook Fan Base With Free-Bagel Coupon: Bloomberg (via brandflakesforbreakfast)
Bloomberg reports on Einstein Bros. Bagels "schmear" campaign launched on Facebook. The number of its Facebook fans shot up from 4,700 to over 300,000 in just one day as it announced a free bagel promotion (apparently, the first ever FB instant print coupon campaign). Free sells!
5) Intel's Social Media Training: Harvard Business Review
All this hoopla! about Facebook must be putting companies still in ostrich-mode into a state of panic. Jeanne C Meister and Karie Willyerd provide some help by posting about the experiences of Intel, a social media pioneer. Includes a link to Intel's social media guidelines that will help address some of these company's concerns about the question of responsible use. Probably, at this point, better to think about ways to participate than refuse to play like the 54% of companies who think that banning access is the right approach.
6) Facebook Homepage Redesign: A Feature Breakdown: PCWorld
Facebook is redesigning its Home Page (again). PCWorld has the details. It started rolling it out this week (starting 2/4) and not all users (as usual) are happy. Here is one group's collective reaction (anonymous-fied):
Status update: Seriously Facebook, what is the deal? everytime I get used to a format, it changes!!! ugh!(Note to FB: Might at least want to let people know when you make a change.)
#1: what is different? Yesterday at 9:03pm
Response: you don't have a different home page? like....completely different? maybe I'm just a lucky one being tested?!?!? LOL! Yesterday at 9:11pm
#2: Mine was different when I logged in tonight too xxx. Wish they'd just leave it alone... Yesterday at 9:18pm
#3: i haven't gotten it yet, but i haven't logged out and back in in a while Yesterday at 9:19pm
#1: nope, unless I am just really clueless :) Yesterday at 9:21pm
Response to #2: so glad you commented. I was beginning to think I was imagining the changes LOL! The rest of you....just wait. You get to figure it all out AGAIN Yesterday at 9:23pm
#4: No, they're rolling it out slowly - I was just reading about it. I don't have the new format yet, but I'm sure will have it foisted on me soon. I hate how they keep changing things just to fricking change them!! Yesterday at 9:24pm
#5: Yea I don't have it either but I have several friends who did get everything changed and for those of you on farmville it messed their farms up badly!! :( Yesterday at 9:27pm
That's it! Back soon with more stories from the world of brand strategy (and vaguely related areas). More thoughts and comments also available on Twitter (@martinjbishop).