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