Facebook Charts the Course to 2025

FB

Strong third quarter earnings were posted by Facebook this week, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg set the stage for a year of investment ahead, with a ten year horizon. Facebook’s expenses are expected to grow between 50% and 70% next year, and the company looks set to not only aggressively scale its various app based technologies, but also recruit the best and brightest talent.

With almost 8400 employees, Facebook has grown 44% since last year. As CFO Dave Wehner explained:

… we’re investing where we think there is a great opportunity for long-term growth and that’s going to be really investing and continuing to grow the talent base of the Company. So, we’re investing in the people and that’s a big part of it.

On the user side, Facebook reports that over 1.35 billion people use the social network each month with 64% logging in daily.  On mobile – yes mobile – 703 million people login daily – signalling a massive 40% growth since last year.

Not content to simply keep pace, Facebook are pushing ahead with a substantial technology investment planned. The plan with 3, 5 and 10 year horizons is for Facebook to develop and grow multiple products to scale ahead of monetisation. On that agenda are WhatsApp, Messenger, Search, Video, NewsFeed, Oculus and Instagram.

Interestingly enough, for the majority of its social network users, Facebook is a single, broad product, with an abundance of features spooling kraken-like into our digital experiences. The push to hive off products across the social network platform (like the recently calved Messenger), however, signal a more strategic understanding of both the business opportunity and the audience behaviours.

With a core platform providing a consistency of experience, Facebook is well placed to aggressively invest in a next generation computing platform – based on augmented reality and Oculus. However, there are significant hurdles to overcome, even with a 10 year horizon. And that heavy investment will need to be focused around transforming the ungainly augmented reality hardware that limits the broad appeal of Oculus in order to avoid a fate similar to Google’s ill-conceived Glass.

Leaving that aside, Zuckerberg’s understanding of audience and scale and the commercial approach to technology and monetisation underpins both the investments and the product strategy. Turning his attention to Search and News Feed, he explained:

Some of the things like Search and some of these other products, this may sound a little ridiculous to say, but for us, products don’t really get that interesting to turn into businesses until they have about a 1 billion people using them. And so for Facebook, we’re there with News Feed and that’s why in the near term our priority is really around continuing to grow and serve that community and making sure that the business around News Feed and those mobile ads fully reach their potential. [my emphasis.]

Throwing these large numbers around seems trite until we break it down. Thinking through platforms at scale – with 1000 million people as a user base for several products at a time – means operating at a scale that few of us can imagine. In Zuckerberg’s own words:

But I do think that this is such a big opportunity ahead of us. I can’t think of that many other companies or products that have multiple lines of products that are on track to reach and connect 1 billion that have a clear path of how we can turn them into a business.

The path to 2025 has been laid out – and it looks like quite a journey ahead. But looking back to 2005 I could hardly imagine the 2015 we have in front of us. I’m guessing Facebook’s investors are consulting their psychics and calling on their resident futurists. And well they might, there’s certainly a lot at stake.

You can read the full transcript of the earnings call on SeekingAlpha.com.

Content Marketing in Australia 2015 – Are you creating content worth sharing?

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At a recent event hosted by Livefyre, Neal Mann, digital strategist for News Corp Australia posed a challenging question – would you share the last piece of content that you created? Answering his own question, Neal revealed the single largest challenge facing Australian brands and marketers using content marketing as part of their strategy:

Most people don’t say yes. They don’t. Because they’ve not actually created [content] to engage an audience, they’ve created it to get it out the door … It’s worth highlighting engagement on Facebook and marketing. There’s a big difference between paying for engagement which is kind of the initial stages of what happened with social. Now, if you look at the US brands in particular that are notoriously in news, they’re creating content that’s cool.

The Pepsi Max test drive pranks, for example, saw widespread engagement, with some of the videos – like the one below – delivering over 40 million views (and counting). And the Pepsi YouTube channel has also grown as a branded media channel with over 729,000 subscribers.

But this kind of content is rarely being produced here in Australia. There is sill a focus on buying engagement rather than producing engaging content – material and media that are worth sharing.

The release of the Content Marketing Institute – ADMA benchmark report for 2015, seems to provide at least some of the answers to why this might be the case. Presenting the findings from over 250 Australian marketers, the report shows:

  • Content marketing effectiveness is lagging: Only 29% of marketers consider their companies effective at content marketing – though this extends to 44% where there is a documented content marketing strategy in place
  • Marketers need to commit and plan content marketing: Only 37% of the respondents indicated that they have documented content marketing strategies in place. A further 46% indicated that there is an undocumented strategy
  • A disconnect between demand generation and marketing: With 60% of marketers indicating that web traffic is a measure of success for content marketing, sales lead quality languishes at 29% with customer renewal rates at 19%.

Interestingly, the report also reveals that 63% of marketers intend to increase their content marketing budget in 2015. And with this in mind there are some key activities that marketers can work immediately:

  • Develop and document a content marketing strategy: Unless a strategy is clear in the minds of the marketers, agencies and suppliers – as well as the business management – it’s almost impossible to track effectiveness. For assistance in developing your content marketing strategy, reach out to us here
  • Measure and innovate to improve effectiveness: Once you have a strategy, you need to stick to it. Simple frameworks and dashboards can help you measure what works, change what doesn’t and consistently improve over time
  • Commit to creating content worth sharing: Almost every business has employees who are also customers. If you can’t encourage your own employees to share your content with their friends, family and business networks, then you need to reassess your creative approach. It’s time to invest in creative rather than paid media.

As Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute says:

There are two critical factors that differentiate effective content marketers over the rest of the pack – having a documented content marketing strategy and following it very closely. Those two things make all the difference.

And with budgets under scrutiny and competition fierce, it may be time to reach out for assistance. After all, isn’t it time that you started making content that you are proud of? You know it is.

Creating a sustainable food culture with @OzHarvest for #ThinkEatSave

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In 2013, OzHarvest set themselves the goal to “feed the 5000” using rescued food. And after that first successful initiative, in 2014, the aim was to grow the one-day event significantly. For ThinkEatSave, OzHarvest partnered with with the United Nations to tackle the issues of food and nutrition security and sustainable food systems.

Some of the nation’s top chefs, politicians and celebrities united at events held across Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Newcastle to take a stance against food waste, and serve thousands of members of the public a free, delicious and hearty hot meal made from surplus produce that would have otherwise ended up as landfill.

Amazingly, food waste is currently costing Australians up to $10 billion each year, while two million people still rely on food relief – with global food loss + waste reaches 1.3 billion tonnes (yes, billion).

Here are some of the social media highlights from an amazing day

Why One in Ten Australian Children Live with Disadvantage and We Don’t Do Anything About It

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We hear empty promises all the time – from our cultural, political and business leaders. They pass over the airwaves, across the internet and through our minds. In many instances, we filter them out – discard them as spin doctoring or static in an already-too-noisy world. Often these claims are backed up by statistics or a number – $10 billion worth of investment, 65% of respondents – but by the time we reach the “proof point”, the objective has already been lost.

Bob Hawke 1980Remember former Prime Minister Bob Hawke famously promised by 1990, “no Australian child will be living in poverty”?

But 1990 came and went. And a new campaign from The Smith Family explains that we are perhaps, farther away from this noble goal than ever. In fact, one in ten Australian children – 638,000 kids – live with financial disadvantage.

What does financial disadvantage look like?

Take a few minutes to watch the video from The Smith Family. It does a great job of capturing the sense of disadvantage and the powerlessness that comes with it.

What you can do to change this

But the video also provides some suggestions for action … for achievable change that you can support:

Prove me wrong and change a life.

Bob Hawke 1980Creative Commons License State Library of South Australia via Compfight

The Many Colours of Digital Disruption

Nielsen Social Media Report 2012

From almost any angle, businesses are under pressure. Connected customers are out-flanking business efforts to control the flow of goods and services and manage relationships in an increasingly connected economy. The global economy continues to struggle under the weight of misguided policies, sovereign debt and an entitled corporatocracy that aims to “maximize the status quo” . As Seth Godin points out, this industrial focus on our economy has a limited future:

Today’s industrialists define our economy, but they offer very little promise for tomorrow. They’ve long bought ads to polish their image, but mostly work to alter the culture in ways that will ensure they’ll get just a little bit more yield out of each of us.

But as Mary Meeker’s 2012 recap on the state of the internet suggests, disruption is the new normal. And when it comes to digital, disruption comes in many colours.

Five Impacts of Digital Media
Writing on the invention of the printing press, Elizabeth Eisenstein suggested there were five impacts that transformed society of the time. In 2012, we too can see these impacts playing out in our personal and professional lives (and all the spaces in-between):

  • Experts coming under pressure from new voices who are early adopters of new technology
  • New organisations emerging to deal with the social, cultural and political changes
  • There is a struggle to revise the social and legal norms — especially in relation to intellectual property
  • The concepts of identity and community are transformed
  • New forms of language come into being
  • Educators are pressured to prepare their students for the newly emerging world

Nielsen Social Media Report 2012 signals the end to the industrial age of marketing

Nielsen Social Media Attitudes

Showcasing each of these five impacts, the Nielsen Social Media Report for 2012 signals not only that “social media has come of age”, but that digital has truly arrived as a force that can no longer be ignored. Once, the staunchest defender of an analogue ratings system, Nielsen’s own transformation confirms that the industrial age of marketing is closing and that a new era has arrived.

Marketers are not only under pressure to respond to the mega trends outlined above – they must also address the five pillars of enterprise disruption which are playing havoc with business strategy and engagement tactics. These days marketers must consider:

  • A strategy of mobile only, not mobile first: Not only are mobile technologies different in form and shape. They are taking over our patterns of adoption and consumption. With mobile devices already outselling PCs in India and China, it is expected that this change will impact Australia, the US and Europe in 2014. With long lead times and a dearth of digital skills within organisations, marketers will need to move now to serve their connected consumers who prowl the digital landscape. And rather than thinking mobile first, marketers need to think mobile only
  • Social is mobile: Mobility is not only an issue for interruption – or even permission based marketing. It is an issue for social engagement platforms. App usage now accounts for more than a third of social networking time. There is still significant space for growth – and marketers will need to understand how this mobile+social dimension impacts the customer experience
  • Social TV is disrupting broadcast: While the focus is currently on Twitter as a social TV enablement platform, this is an area ripe for disruption. Just as publishers were slow to respond to digital and are now facing significant business model challenges, broadcast networks have also been slow to invest, experiment and learn from social technologies. This has opened the door to innovative startup who will continue to outpace the industrial age broadcasters
  • The buyer’s journey has changed forever: The marketing funnel as a concept is over 100 years old. In a digital world, its linear process is also a mark of the industrial marketing era. It’s time for marketers to re-cast the marketing funnel for consumer engagement.

Download the Nielsen report and let me know what you think. Will it change the way you plan and execute your marketing efforts in 2013?

Disruption is the New Normal – The Internet @ December 2012

Meeker Internet Report 2012

Meeker Internet Report 2012There are few trend reports that generate the kind of excitement that Mary Meeker is able to elicit. The well known partner at VC group Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers has just released a year-end update to her 2012 internet trends presentation. It is an 88 slide information overload that will provide plenty to ponder during your holiday break.

There are, however, some key meta trends that can be expanded upon:

  • Mobile computing adoption is accelerating. As previously noted, the use of mobile phones to consume internet services and content is accelerating – with western countries lagging the kind of adoption levels seen across Asia Pacific. While mobile computing has surpassed desktop computing in countries like India and China, the US is playing catchup – with 29% of US adults now owning a tablet or eReader
  • Disruption is the new normal. Almost every industry, product category and service is under threat. The shift to digital as characterised by the five pillars of enterprise disruption are highlighted throughout the report.  Formerly dominant players are struggling to adapt as new entrants sweep through, claiming markets and customers with imaginative solutions to old problems. Fuelled by “fearless and connected” entrepreneurs and consumers, the magnitude of disruption will be unprecedented
  • Capital chases opportunity. In the rush to re-imagine this connected future, capital will flow – and flow quickly – towards those businesses exhibiting business model innovation. And where capital flows, expertise follows. Look to Asia Pacific and to South America for emerging and fast moving opportunities.

Funnel Conversion: Make it About Your Customers

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It’s one thing to have a marketing insight, but quite another to do something valuable with it.

Living as we do with an abundance of data, what marketers increasingly need is a way to filter the information, distil it for insight and apply their business and brand knowledge in a way that creates value for both the business and their customers.

But where do you start?

Eloqua has compiled 40 infographics covering a swathe of marketing disciples from the back office to the front of house. There are charts on analytics and marketing automation, social media, email marketing and lead management.

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Armed with this data:

  • Consider your own marketing challenge
  • Find a chart that speaks to your problem
  • Compare and contrast the chart data to what you know about your business

Now … think about how you can close the gap or solve your challenge. Do you need help? Resources? Budget? What can you do within the next three weeks and what can be delayed until 2013?

STOP.

All this makes perfect sense. But before progressing, consider how this plays out with customer experience in mind. Which of your priorities also provide wins for your customers? What does it mean to recast your efforts through the lens of the customer?

With an abundance of data we can easily lose sight of our customers. Marketers must continue to maintain focus not on their marketing processes but on the constantly changing customer landscape. If you aren’t focusing on your customers, rest assured your competitors are.

Who Really Uses Facebook?

When you think of Facebook, the scale can be confronting:

  • 1 billion members
  • 45% of the North American population
  • 42% of Oceania
  • 35% of South America
  • 270 million members in Asia

But who really uses Facebook? What do they look like? How would you characterize them?

The clever folks from Soap Creative have done us all a service by providing this neat snapshot of the 36 Faces of Facebook. See which one you are. And see if you can see your grandmother too.

Asian Connections: Embracing the Digital Trajectory

Fifty four percent of the world’s population lives in Asia. That’s 3.7 billion people. And according to We Are Social, Singapore’s recent report, Asia is home to over 1 billion internet users – 80% of whom use social media (see full report below).

The numbers are impressive. And yet, they tell only part of the story.

The most compelling aspect is the trajectory of digital consumption across Asia:

  • New internet users every month: 11,350,000
  • Videos watched (in June 2012): 45,000,000,000
  • New Facebook users each month: 10,000,000
  • Mobile internet users now outnumber PC-based internet users in China: 388 million vs 380 million

Consumer Adoption is Disrupting Patterns of Media Consumption and Impacting the Buyer’s Journey

The shift to digital in Asia is characterised by the widespread use of mobile and smartphones. Almost half of the people in Asia are willing to make transactions on their mobile phones (43%). And 60% of internet users in Asia use social media to inform purchase decisions. This combination is impacting not just the top end of the marketing funnel but various points across the buyer’s journey. 

Digital Adoption Will Drive Marketer’s Thirst for Mobile Solutions

Given that more than half of Asia’s population is under 30, marketers seeking to engage these high spending, younger audiences will need to develop new digital approaches.

However, with 82% mobile penetration across Asia – and a growing population of mobile internet users – digital approaches should increasingly follow a Mobile First with a Social Heart strategy.

Marketers Will Turn to Marketing Automation to Scale Execution

While digital and social media marketing promises one-to-one conversations with customers, the rapid growth in the population of “Connected Consumers” challenges marketers’ capacity to scale. As a result, marketers will begin turning to marketing automation vendors to provide personality rich brand communications at scale.

The Shift to Digital Requires a Re-casting of the Marketing Funnel

While the information in the We Are Social report focuses on Asia, we are seeing similar shifts in markets the world over. Marketers can no longer rely on past practices as a relevant method for predicting future outcomes. Forward thinking marketers will need to begin rethink their understanding of their consumers from the outside-in. This will require a re-casting of the marketing funnel.

Look for my upcoming report CMOs: Re-casting the Marketing Funnel for Consumer Engagement, available for free later this month to all Constellation Research clients. Want to know more? Email me.

Trust is the Gateway to App Sales Success

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When we search on the internet we are investing a small amount of trust in the speed, responsiveness and accuracy of the search engine that we are using. After all, the future of your brand is micro. We trust that Google or Bing is reliably trawling the web for the latest information, indexing knowledge to the deepest level and connecting the dots between what we need to know and where it can be found.

Both Google and Microsoft invest significant resources in improvements to their search engines. But it’s not just about the information source – it’s vitally about relevance. This is the scary truth about search – that the search engines already connect a vast amount of information about us and make it available to the public – to people, brands and businesses.

But this fantastic chart from Silicon Alley Insider reveals that when it comes to recommendation – specifically for app discovery – social referral accounts for almost as much as search. The research carried out by Nielsen indicated that 63% of Android and iOS users use search to discover new apps in the various app stores – only slightly in front of personal recommendation from family or friends at 61%.

But the thing that drives both of these figures is trust. We trust search and we trust our friends and family. We trust search and social. And together they can be a powerful driver of sales – for whether we like it or not – we are all retailers now.