Archive for July, 2012

When do we get a “want” button? Facebook’s first earnings call

Yesterday afternoon, Facebook held its first earnings call with Wall Street analysts to discuss its second quarter results. There’s plenty of discussion on the Internet about the actual results so I won’t rehash them here, but during the Q&A there were a few questions that alluded to Facebook’s future that I found interesting. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about social commerce, I found the discussion between by Lauren Martin, equity analyst at Needham & Company, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sheryl Sandberg the most fascinating part of the conference call. I’ve posted a portion of the transcript for you to read but the point I found interesting is that Facebook is approaching each industry (advertising, gaming, music, media, and commerce) in a unique way that will require a nuanced approach in the business model and user experience. They key phrase that Mark highlights is how “more nuanced experiences will become social.”  It’s unclear exactly how this will translate to commerce but philosophically, I agree with his approach. Facebook, and the industry in general, will need to continue to experiment to uncover this nuanced approach to commerce in social.

(Transcript provided by SeekingAlpha)

http://seekingalpha.com/article/755071-facebook-management-discusses-q2-2012-results-earnings-call-transcript?page=9&p=qanda

Laura A. Martin – Needham & Company, LLC, Research Division

A couple for Mark. So Mark, we’ve been writing a lot about the optionality or the option value of the Facebook platform globally. And I guess, I’m really interested outside the visible revenue streams, which today are payments in advertising. Could you talk through how you’re thinking about commerce on this platform? And also video, because video is one of the most shared things, as you know. As we think about over the next 3 to 5 years other revenue streams, how do you think philosophically about what Facebook could become over a longer period of time in terms of revenue streams?

Mark Zuckerberg

Sure. Well, the basic approach that we have for now is we’re building out this platform and other companies can build on top of that. And you can view our business as an advertising and payments business or you could view it as there will be these companies that help to transform these industries, and we will get some portion of the value that comes from that, that we’re helping to provide, right? So in gaming, for example, we think that we’re helping to provide a lot of the value, so we end up getting a relatively high percentage of the revenue that comes into those companies. Whereas in something like music or some of the media companies that are now getting built using Open Graph, I think we aren’t providing quite as much of the percentage of the value as with games, so the overall amount of the revenue that comes to Facebook through, whether whatever the breakdown of ads and payments is, I think, will be somewhat less. But a lot of people will do that stuff, too. So I think the real way to think about this is that over time, more and more nuanced experiences will become social. So gaming is such a basic thing that people want to do with their friends, so even with a relatively basic platform, people could build that ecosystem out. Some of the media stuff required more nuance. I think commerce will require a little more and so on. But as these things get built out, I think we’ll build out the tools to both enable those products to get built and to be able to capture some percentage of the value that we’re helping to create. But I mean, I don’t really have any more plans that I’m going to share with you today about our product roadmap or anything like that.

Sheryl K. Sandberg

One thing to think about in the commerce area or in other areas like video is that our view of the world is things become increasingly social. And that takes time. Gaming was obviously first. But people are informed when they purchase things by their friends, and the commerce companies that are really adopting social are seeing good responses. Fab is one of them. Fab is very early on in its history, but it’s a truly social shopping experience. And they’re seeing near 20% to 40% of their traffic from Facebook on a daily basis, as well as a very good return on their investment on ads that their CEO has been talking about publicly. We look out at what people’s shopping behaviors are. And so much of them really — so much of their shopping behaviors really are social, that we think there’s a big opportunity for the social context that we offer to be a major part of how people discover products.

Community Leadership Summit 2012

After my third trip to the Community Leadership Summit, it’s quite clear that the world of community management is maturing.

A few years ago, CLS struggled to get 100 people in the room, especially the second day of the event. This year, there were well over 200 people at CLS, and Day 2 was just as busy as Day 1. Attendance is growing more international; not just the US and Europe were well represented, but community managers from China and India (and probably more) were also on-site. On a more prosaic note, sponsorship is up, too. Adobe is a proud sponsor of CLS.

The most important thing about CLS, and what keeps me coming back every year, is the quality of the content and the fantastic conversations that take place there. The CLS wiki has crowdsourced notes from many of the sessions, but it’s a pale shadow of the value you get from actually being there.

Pitching Sessions at CLS 2012

Pitching Sessions at CLS 2012

Each year, new community managers come in, but there’s also a growing base of practitioners who’ve been in the field for some time now and are taking a more in-depth approach to the discipline. That cross-pollination of ideas is great for everyone.

This year I facilitated a session on tools for community management on Saturday as well as gave a plenary talk on Sunday. The Sunday talk was something I haven’t done before – I talked about crisis communities and used the recent events at the Horace Mann School (my alma mater) as an example of community formation in a crisis. It was hard to talk about something so personal at a professional event but judging from the feedback I got, it went over well.

Each year, I come home more convinced that it doesn’t matter if you’re the manager of an open source community or a corporate one, a huge community or a tiny one; community programs and community managers have far more things in common that not.

We all struggle with issues around tooling and support, and managing difficult personalities. We’re all trying to find more and better metrics for judging the success and health of our communities. We all deal with burnout and stress. And we’re all looking for ways to bring in new community members while trying to keep longtime contributors active and engaged.

If we all keep talking to each other, we can leverage all that intelligence and passion we have for our work to make all of our lives easier and our communities stronger.

TL; DR: the Community Leadership Summit is a great event, and if you’re a community manager, you should put it onto your calendar for next year.

CLS 2012 Attendees

CLS 2012 Attendees

Versions of this post are cross-posted here and on my personal blog.

5 Challenges to Overcome in Creating Content & How to Do It

Content.

As dedicated community managers we all love (and hate) it. Sometimes we’re so psyched about a post we can’t contain ourselves. Then, it only gets 10 likes. One comment. No shares. What went wrong? Or there’s that post that you wrote at 2am trying to think of one last thing to say to your fans, and bam — 300 comments.

We’ve narrowed down the challenges of writing content consistently to five that come up every time you play the writing game: writers block, channeling the brand, brand interest vs. fan interest, lack of resources, and the inevitable time crunch.  We’re going to tackle them head on with a few tips and tricks. Content creation is a world of wonder. It takes your personality, wit, patience, and planning to get through it. But, that’s why we love it right?

1) Writer’s Block — We all go through it. Staring at the screen or update status box — For HOURS. Here’s what we do when we’re out of juice:

  • Look to others (competitors, industry, brands) for inspiration
  • Work with a team? Swap calendars for a fresh topic
  • Ask friends, family, colleagues, and even fans for topic ideas
  • Look for inspiration offline
  • Still in doubt? Have a cocktail! Or start in the morning.
    • Studies show when tired/slightly tipsy, creative juices flow

2)   Channeling the Brand (Appropriately) –- Fans don’t like to feel as if they are being marketed to (even when they know) so give it flavor!

  • Humanize your brand with a voice and personality
  • Share fun facts, stories, photos, events, etc. to tell the story
  • Ask fans for their thoughts & memories about the brand
  • Use conversational language
  • Find a complimentary brand’s style you like for inspiration

3)   Brand Interest vs. Fan Interest — Fans want to know you care and want to learn about them, not just share about your brand.

  • Ask their opinions, call-out comments, and reply to them
  • Demographics: remember Who they are and What they like to do

4)   Lack of Resources — What to do when your received brand assets consist of little/content fodder, PR and/or marketing papers, and a brand ready to shout their name across the rooftops. To get what you need:

  • Ask for it!
    • What’s the history, personal stories, employee stories, & why is your client proud to be part of the brand
    • Get a Marketing and Events Calendar
    • Get & take photos, videos, polls, etc.
    • Make content compelling
      • KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid/ Keep It Sharable Silly
  • Relevant Research
    • Sign up for newsletters, bookmark reliable online publications, and take a deep dive into industry news to share in-the-know news with your fans

5)   Time-Crunch – Working on a deadline is all about one thing- find your system and work it!

  • Brainstorm & keep lists relating to: Subject matters of interest, brands doing it right/wrong, content types, and resources
  • Organize and Plan
    • Map a monthly “ideal” calendar & determine content mix
      • Remember: 80(Non-Brand)/20(Brand) Rule
    • Create bi-weekly content calendar outline
    • Establish and work a content review process
    • Schedule
    • Analyze/reflect on content to determine what to write next!

Whether its your first day or your 1000’s, content creation is no walk in the park, but as long as you stick to what works for you, and get inspired, you will always think of the right thing to say.