AMC 2010 Coverage: What Publishers Can Learn from Facebook

David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, encourages publishers to embrace the realities of our new world

Facebook is a 25 billion dollar company, with 500 million active users. The company is changing the way we all communicate, forever, and David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect has tracked every step of the company’s way.

When you are on Facebook, you are instantly a publisher. Yes, this includes your old high school boyfriend and maybe your mother. This is unnerving for everyone in media. People are starting to view spending 45 minutes looking at their Facebook newsfeed to be more entertaining than watching TV or reading websites or magazines or books. This is just the cold hard truth.

The beauty of Facebook for real world publishers is the easy ability to transfer information. Kirkpatrick encouraged publishers at this week’s American Magazine Conference to constantly and consistently think about content as “pass along-able” bits of information.

Kirkpatrick recognized that the creative process now begins with social. Even though this is a medium not everyone completely understands, (including the analysts) it’s what is leading the smartest ad agencies. First question asked is always about social.

Most targetable medium in history “bar none”

Even if you don’t accept that fact that social comes first, you must at least realize it’s a huge part of everything you do. Facebook in particular is the most targetable medium in history “bar none”, says Kirkpatrick. This is due to all the user volunteered data. While almost all other ad targeting online is inferential, with Facebook, you know how old the person is, their gender, their interests including favorite movies, books and music. Layer this user volunteered data on top of the inferential data that Facebook also collects and you’ve got an incredibly targetable medium.

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Massive social change

Kirkpatrick recognized this is a massive social change in letting the world know everything you do and everything you are and everywhere you’re going. It is hugely unnerving as business people that the world is changing and there’s nothing we can do about it.

He noted that Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerburg wanted to give the consumer the control and he wanted to highlight transparency. Zuckerburg, and many others from his generation, truly believe that transparency makes us better people – it forces us to cheat on our partners less, lie to our friends less. The young are forcibly pulling the old into their world of transparency. There are plenty of communities in this world who could say that if a member of their community is not on Facebook, they don’t know what’s going on, they don’t know about the parties or who’s having babies. In countries like Italy, Kirkpatrick says email is diminishing and Facebook is increasing. Countries like Indonesia, where some people may have never had email, rely only on Facebook to communicate. And they are increasingly accessing it from their mobile phones.

Kirkpatrick believes that even if Facebook had some major crisis and went away tomorrow, something else would replace it in a second. He closed by noting several things publishers must do in regard to Facebook:

1. Stop disparaging it. Just swallow hard and accept that this is the world you are now living in and figure out how to take advantage of it.

2. Make content shareable on Facebook. In the realm of marketing, he says we’re 1% of the way there. Recognize that this is holistic marketing and think about what you can do to help make the social piece more effective.

For more coverage of AMC 2010:

AMC 2010 Coverage: From the Page to the iPad

AMC 2010 Coverage: Starbucks CEO on the Importance of Social Media

AMC-IMAG 2010 Coverage: Lessons in Paid Content from Consumer Reports

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