Saturday, January 3, 2009

Social Media Marketing 3, Facebook Department of Marketing

Introduction | FriendFeed | Twitter | Facebook

Eventually, after looking at FriendFeed and Twitter, I decided that perhaps a social media company with a lot of users might be doing something right.

While the companies certainly have their differences, Facebook, FriendFeed, and Twitter do have some similarities in that, at the basic level, they allow users to communicate with each other.

So how does Facebook market itself?

The first thing to note is that Facebook has someone who is clearly responsible for the marketing function. While FriendFeed doesn't appear to have a marketing head, and while Twitter is still working on hiring one, Facebook's "Executive Bios" page clearly identifies Mister Marketer.

Elliot Schrage

VP of Communications, Public Policy and Platform Marketing

Elliot Schrage is the Vice President of Communications, Public Policy and Platform Marketing at Facebook, where he is responsible for developing and coordinating key messages about products, corporate business and partnerships. He also oversees the company’s public policy strategy worldwide. Elliot joined Facebook from Google, where he was the Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs. He helped broaden and coordinate the company’s messaging from a focus on product PR to include all aspects of corporate, financial, policy, philanthropic and internal communications. Prior to Google, Elliot was the Bernard L. Schwarz Senior Fellow in business and foreign policy at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. Earlier in his career, Elliot served as the Senior Vice President of Global Affairs for Gap Inc. and an adjunct professor at Columbia University and Columbia Law School. He has been a contributor to the Harvard Business Review and the Financial Times. Elliot holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Now obviously other members of the executive staff have marketing responsibilities - when you think about it, every employee in a company has marketing responsibilities. But what does Schrage do? Well, it helps that he was using the service even as he was just joining the company:

Schrage confirmed his new job to BoomTown, right after he friended us on Facebook last night, using its new chat feature.

Way to go native quickly, Elliot!

Now since I am not on Facebook myself, I cannot determine how much he continues to use the service. But he's certainly getting people to develop for the service.

Facebook has thrown its weight behind virtual mouse hunting and communal card crafting applications touted as rising stars at the hot social networking website.

GroupCard and MouseHunt are among five software creations that won top honors in an annual fbFund competition to find innovative applications that will enchant Facebook users.

"I think people were blown away by the creativity and the thoughtfulness of the applications," Facebook vice president of platform marketing Elliot Schrage said as 25 finalists showed off their work at the firm's office in Palo Alto, California.

"This competition was created to make sure that the great ideas have the opportunity to reach Facebook users."

Schrage's predecessor in the product marketing role was Chamath Palihapitiya (who is now the "VP of User Growth, Mobile, and International Expansion"). Palihapitiya certainly did his marketing:

As you might expect from a vice president of product marketing, Facebook's Chamath Palihapitiya can deliver a convincing sales pitch.

His sell: Facebook is the next-generation platform of the Internet that can turn any ambitious entrepreneur (with the right application) into an overnight success. He rattled off the stats to back up the argument.

The average development time, he said, for an entrepreneur to build a Facebook application is between two and 15 weeks, according to a self-reported survey of its developer community. The average number of employees to make those applications: between one and five people. And about 33 percent of Facebook application makers reported profits of up to $500,000 a month....

"The barrier to entry is lower than it's ever been," Palihapitiya said to an audience here Saturday at the TieCon conference. "When you build something social, you get immediately rewarded with distribution. You will allow your user base to be your marketers."

Palihapitiya...knew his audience. TieCon is a two-day conference cut out for technology entrepreneurs; and it attracted as many as 4,000 attendees.

So they're hitting the big conferences, and people are obviously talking about them. But do people know what Facebook is? Let's face it, if you've never heard of "friend feed," it sounds like a picnic or a restaurant, and if you've never heard of "twitter," you wonder if John Cleese and Michael Palin are involved. And, despite the fact that I went to college, I had no idea what a "face book" was. (Reed College actually printed some pictures of incoming freshmen, but didn't use that term to describe them.)

So to learn what a "face book" is, let's go to Facebook's own Facebook page, conveniently entitled



Company Overview: Facebook gives people the power to share and makes the world more open and connected.

Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.

These people seem to know what they're doing.

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