This past week, we had the plea­sure of host­ing what we hope will be the first of many inti­mate gath­er­ings with col­leagues and mem­bers of the press. It’s been a whirl­wind few months for Effi­cient Fron­tier, in no small part due to our acqui­si­tion of Con­text Optional, a leader in enter­prise social mar­ket­ing solu­tions. With so many changes in the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing space, we wanted to bring together key indus­try thought lead­ers to dis­cuss cur­rent issues fac­ing marketers.

After enjoy­ing dol­mas, Greek salad, and hal­ibut in the Kokkari Restau­rant in San Fran­cisco, David Karn­st­edt, Effi­cient Frontier’s CEO and Kevin Baren­blat, Con­text Optional’s CEO, engaged in a dis­cus­sion with Grady Bur­nett, Vice Pres­i­dent of Global Sales and Oper­a­tions at Face­book. Grady gra­ciously agreed to place him­self on the hot seat to engage in a con­ver­sa­tion regard­ing the issues and oppor­tu­ni­ties for mar­keters on Facebook.

To the dis­may of the audi­ence, Grady didn’t let on when Face­book would go pub­lic or share their cur­rent user num­bers, but he shared insights on gain­ing fans on Face­book and imple­ment­ing “social by design.” “People are already social,” he said. Social media plat­forms like Face­book make the web more social. The con­ver­sa­tion about social media mar­ket­ing has shifted — it’s no longer about com­pa­nies hav­ing a basic pres­ence but rather hav­ing con­trol of every inter­ac­tion with a fan. Hav­ing uni­fied Effi­cient Fron­tier and Con­text Optional to answer mar­keters’ needs for a com­plete solu­tion for brands to acquire, acti­vate and drive value from fans on Face­book and Twit­ter, we couldn’t agree more with Grady.

Grady gave a great, real­time exam­ple lever­ag­ing our set­ting: If Grady and David are con­nected on Face­book, and David sees that Grady “Likes” Kokkari Restau­rant, David is 62% more likely to visit Kokkari. Just as we would take a restau­rant rec­om­men­da­tion from a friend offline, we as con­sumers want a level of trust in order to con­nect online. Sponsored Sto­ries are highly effec­tive ad units because it uti­lizes our offline social con­nec­tions to pro­mote brands. A Spon­sored Story can be a tip­ping point for a small busi­ness and big brands as well.

In another exam­ple, Expe­dia, saw a 750% increase in fans, sur­pass­ing the 1 mil­lion fan mark, and had 15 to 30 times more men­tions on Face­book over the course of a six-week cam­paign Effi­cient Fron­tier and Con­text Optional recently cre­ated and managed. The cam­paign, called FriendTrips, was an inter­ac­tive sweep­stakes in which peo­ple could pilot a vir­tual plane and fill it with online friends in order to win vaca­tion pack­ages. Expedia’s Face­book adver­tis­ing cam­paign used Spon­sored Sto­ries, stan­dard mar­ket­place and pre­mium ads. The Face­book mar­ket­place and Spon­sored Sto­ries adver­tis­ing drove the major­ity of users/fans.

We had a fan­tas­tic evening with our peers and col­leagues and hope they came away with a few more insights on the power of social for mar­keters and brands. Spe­cial thanks to Grady and the Face­book team and we hope to con­tinue the con­ver­sa­tion as the indus­try evolves.

Justin Mer­ickel, Vice Pres­i­dent of Mar­ket­ing, Effi­cient Frontier