Fun with Facebook Flyers

Before I switched careers, I did a big feature in the Globe and Mail on Facebook marketing. At the time, Mike Murphy, Facebook’s vice president of media sales, told me that while Facebook could theoretically target ads to consumers based on the personal data they entered into the site — hobbies, political leanings, favourite TV shows — it chose not to do so.

Back then, Facebook was weighing its revenue goals against potential privacy concerns, and determined that it was best to segment ad audiences according to a small number of criteria, such as network and gender.

Not anymore.

Now advertisers can take advantage of Facebook’s vast gathering of personal user data and segment to their heart’s content.

But what’s really cool is that the data is all available for free to play with on the Facebook Flyers page. By way of Mashable, I found this post from online political strategist Patrick Ruffini, who used the tool to learn that while few Republicans were fans of the band Radiohead, they did love playing Halo 3.

I’ve had some fun running similar statistics on Facebook’s Canadian users.

Take the New Pornographers, one of my favourite Canadian bands. There are 10,880 people in Canada who have them listed as a favourite band. Of these 3,280 people list their political view as Liberal versus 200 for Conservative. 4,800 fans are male, versus 5,120 female. 3,440 are single, versus 4,320 that are in a relationship, engaged or married.

But among the 35,020 Canadians who list the Bible as a hobby, just 2,120 are Liberal compared with 8,180 who say they are Conservatives.

(One caveat: Facebook capitalizes Liberal and Conservative, although the terms are intended to refer to ideology, rather than party affiliation. I would guess that some Canadian Facebookers use the term one way and some the other).

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Facebook is dead; long live Facebook

There’s much debate on the blogosphere today about whether Facebook is dead or dying.

The latest U.S. Comscore statistics suggest that Facebook’s unstoppable climb is, well, stopping. The numbers point to a 9.3 percent decline in unique visitors and 3.8 percent decline in page views compared with August.

But before we bury the social network that swallowed Canada, a bit of a reality check is needed.

First, September contains one day less than August, which means that even if traffic stayed steady, a three percentage point decline.

Second, Facebook traffic also declined in September of 2006, when compared with August. That’s because the ratings system has a bias towards home computers. When September comes, students log on more often from public terminals at school.

And third, these numbers only apply to U.S. users. Facebook points out that its Global page views rose to 57 million in September, up from 54 million in August. Year over year, it ended September with 44 million active monthly users, up from 9 million a year earlier.

But the numbers do serve as a reminder that it’s still too early to know if Facebook will achieve the level of market dominance in the United States that it has in Canada. Will the Facebook craze in Canada and England bring the United States along, or will U.S. consolidate around Myspace or opt for some new social networking site. And if so, will the dominant U.S. social networking site eventually drag the rest of us in?

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Dove is back and so am I

Back in my last blogging gig at The Globe and Mail, I wrote about Dove’s “Evolution” more than any other spot. And with good reason. It is arguably the greatest ad every made in this country, winning the Grand Prix in both the film and Internet categories at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

Ogilvy & Mather’s Toronto office has just released the long-awaited follow-up to Evolution. It’s called “Onslaught.”

First let me say that while my last blog was about marketing with a heavy slant on advertising, this one is not. This blog is about social media tools like Facebook and YouTube and blogs themselves — and how marketers can use them to connect and engage their most fervent supporters.

But Evolution is as good a place as any to transition. Before Unilever spent a penny to buy advertising time, the ad was viewed more than four million times on YouTube. It was a huge viral success story, an early indication for many marketers that the social media had forever changed the marketing communications landscape.

This was the kind work that inspired me to leave my comfortable job as the Globe’s marketing reporter to take on a new challenge — to help brands and organizations figure out how to navigate and thrive in this new world.