Facebook’s Biggest Threat: Facebook

Facebook changing its News Feed algorithm to show us only the “best” and “most interesting” content is nothing new. It’s the perpetual thorn in social media managers’ sides as brand posts suffer a slow death of consistently decreasing organic reach. (Since Facebook’s latest algorithm change last month, average organic reach has dropped from 16 percent down to frightening 2-3 percent.)But really, what choice does Facebook have?

As Facebook continues to burrow itself into our daily lives, we share more. And the more that we share, the more competition our content faces to cut through the clutter. Facebook even admits that organic reach of business pages will continue to decrease. According to Facebook, there are 1,500 possible stories that they could show in the News Feed each day, but only 300 stories make the cut. The writing’s on the wall: the number of daily stories will continue to rise, but we’re still only going to see the same 300 stories, leaving an ever-increasing heap of important content on the cutting room floor and decreasing the value of the News Feed.

Facebook has become its own biggest threat. As Facebook grows, the quality of its product diminishes, and that doesn’t bode well for anybody: users get frustrated that they’re missing important content from their friends and favorite brands, and brands get frustrated that they now have to pay to reach their fans due to stifled organic reach. At some point, Facebook will crumble under its own weight as a monstrous user base is overwhelmed and frustrated by an unsustainable News Feed. The strength of any social network is directly tied to the satisfaction of its user experience, and that’s eroding…fast.

A little melodramatic? Perhaps. But as we are faced with an increasingly manic News Feed, Millenials are abandoning Facebook at an alarming rate. Users (and by extension, brands) have already begun seeking other platforms to connect with their friends and customers that cut through the clutter with easily consumable content (see also: Snapchat, Instagram and Vine).

At the very least, there’s an important (but often overlooked) lesson for all of us digital marketers: social media was around long before Facebook, and it will continue to evolve long after Facebook’s reign ends. Excelling in social means more than just crafting a super viral Facebook post. It’s about diversifying the social experience so that if one platform fails, you’re still able to deliver cross-platform social experiences to the target audience in meaningful and valuable ways.


Have you seen any decreases in the organic reach of your brand’s posts? Share your observations in the comments.


12 Important Changes Coming with Facebook Timeline for Pages

Yesterday Facebook announced the next installment of its Timeline layout, Timeline for Pages. We anticipated that this change was coming to brand Pages and assumed some of the changes, but yesterday we learned exactly how Facebook Pages will change on March 30, 2012, when Timeline for Pages is rolled out to all Pages. So, what’s changing?

1.        “The Wall” is now “The Timeline”

If you’re not familiar with the Timeline layout, it encourages beautiful graphics and media-rich posts. A lot of real estate is now given to brands to be able to have an attention-grabbing cover photo that spans the top of the page and larger post sizes that can display photos and videos without feeling crowded. Note that Facebook has also released a  specific policy about what can be included in the cover photo creative. The cover photo may not contain any of the following:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40 percent off” or “Download it at our website.”
  • Contact information, such as Web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section.
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features.
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”


2.        Landing Pages Disappear

Instead of directing new visitors to a beautifully designed custom landing page, visitors will be sent to the Timeline. If you want visitors to land on a particular tab within Facebook, you can link there through a Facebook ad or a post on your Page’s Timeline.

3.        Add Company Milestones

Do you have a legacy brand that has a rich history? If so, you can now add events to your Page’s Timeline to help create a visual history of the company. When did your first store open? When did you launch your first product? When did you move to a bigger office? These are just some of the milestones that you can now add to your Page’s Timeline. Try adding nostalgic photos to help increase the emotional connection with fans.

4.        Pinning Posts to the Top

Important or popular posts can be pinned to the top of the Timeline so that more recent content doesn’t bury important content. When you pin a post, it will stay pinned for one week before losing the top placement. If you are promoting a contest or want to drive traffic to a specific application or tab, this may be the best way to make sure that your content is seen.

5.        Tabs Are Less Visible

Tabs and custom applications that live on those tabs are now moved to the top of the Page rather than the left column. With the new layout, tabs are allowed a larger thumbnail, but because the thumbnails take up more space, only two custom tabs can be shown “above the fold.” In order to view the rest of the tabs, a user must click on a dropdown button. This extra step may become familiar in time, but it will always be important to make sure that you feature the two most important tabs “above the fold.”

 6.        Existing Tabs and Applications Will Immediate Require Attention

Even though tabs will lose some visibility, it will still be important to still have tabs on your Page. When Timeline for Pages goes live, tab visitors will see a larger tab page with more pixels available for the tab creative. This is great news because there will be more creative real estate, but unless brands take action now and revise existing tab creative, the tab creative will be auto-adjusted in the new layout. Facebook will automatically center the creative, leaving a noticeable amount of white space surrounding the tab’s content.

7.        Send Private Messages to Fans

For brands that use Facebook as a customer service tool, this development is great news. Fans now have the opportunity to send the brand a private message through Facebook’s messaging platform. These private messages work in the same way as personal Facebook messages and allow brands and fans to discretely communicate with each other without the conversation appearing on the Page’s Timeline.

8.        New Admin Panel

The new admin panel – visible only to Page admins – will be displayed at the top of the Page’s Timeline and provide quick and easy access for admins to view Insights, respond to fans’ private messages, edit the Page information and edit Timeline posts.

9.        Facebook Offers

Facebook is now rolling out Facebook Offers. This is a free product that will be available to all Pages and allow you to create a coupon for your Facebook fans. The coupons are simple and include an area for a thumbnail image and the details of the offer. With just one click, fans can have the coupon sent to their email and/or mobile phone; fans don’t have to grant permissions or go through any extra steps. Simply by clicking “Get Offer,” fans will instantly receive the coupon.

10.     Facebook Premium

Facebook’s internal research (and common sense) has shown that more Facebook users engage with stories, rather than ads. A new Facebook advertising product titled “Facebook Premium” will take a story that is published to your Page’s Timeline and display the story directly in a user’s News Feed (even non-fans). Additionally, these ads will be shown in the News Feeds of mobile devices as well as on the logout page when someone logs out of Facebook. Now, rather than clicking on an ad, users can engage with a story directly. This engagement will generate additional stories that will extend the reach of the ad unit.

11.     Facebook Reach Generator

Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm prevents Page content from reaching all of a Page’s fans and only shows a Page’s content to the fans that are most engaged with the Page. Yesterday, Facebook revealed that, on average, only 16% of a Page’s fans see the Page’s content. So what about the other 84%? Facebook is rolling out a new advertising product called Facebook Reach Generator that will take a story that is published to your Page’s Timeline and post it in the right column of your fans’ News Feeds. These ad units will only be shown to fans of your Page, but Facebook guarantees that your sponsored stories will reach at least 75% of your Page’s fans.

12.     Change Your Fan Page Name

When you registered your Page, did you misspell your brand name or have since wished you’d named your Page differently? Facebook is now allowing Pages to request name changes to your Page. To do this, you must contact Facebook Customer Service


It’s Time to Act!

March 30, 2012 is right around the corner and there are a lot of things that you should begin doing right now to make sure that your Facebook Page doesn’t suffer when the existing layout is sunset at the end of the month. Now’s the time to begin working on creating an updated Facebook strategy and editing and building your Page’s creative assets. We knew that this transition was coming to Pages and now that it’s here and we know the exact changes, it’s time to act!

Evaluating Ideas vs. Generating Ideas

When you read a case study or participate in a brainstorm, what do you do when you hear about an idea? Do you evaluate and judge the idea or do you generate new ideas based on the original idea?

In an all-agency meeting yesterday, the president of our agency, Dave Florin, posited that too often we find ourselves evaluating ideas rather than generating better and more improved ideas. Obviously we’re still generating new ideas — else our clients wouldn’t be our clients anymore — but he suggested that we could be creating even more ideas. It gave me pause, but when I thought about it, that is what happens.

There are countless articles that I’ve read that I’ve judged as really smart ideas or really lousy ideas. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it seems that more often than not I’m reading about or listening to ideas that I evaluate and judge at face value and then move on to the next idea. Instead, I need to spend more time generating a new and improved idea based on the original idea.

Clients hire us to come up with bright and inventive ideas. As such, we need to make sure that we don’t just stop at evaluating ideas, but figuring out what can make existing ideas better. I hypothesize that with almost every article we read and every brainstorm we participate in that we can glean at least one takeaway to improve upon the original idea or use that takeaway to seed a completely new idea.

At the end of the agency meeting we were challenged to ask ourselves the same question every day: “Did I positively impact the creation of a marketable idea today?” As long as we can answer “Yes!” to that question every day, we know that we’re on track to producing great work.

What about you? Do you find yourself evaluating ideas more often than generating ideas? Do you think it’s possible to turn every single idea into a better idea?


Ford Mustang Capitalizes on the 2012 Swimsuit Edition with Clever Ad

Ford’s strategically framed ad that appears in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition has been getting a lot of buzz. In an issue dedicated to showcasing beautiful, bikini-clad women, Ford’s ad included a swimsuit model, too. As you can see in the ad below, the car takes the spotlight and the model is only partially shown.


Often times, the models that appear in the Swimsuit Edition are unknown beauties with obscure names. “Readers” of the issue — largely a middle-aged male audience and also the obvious target audience for Ford Mustang — will often Google the models after the issue comes out to view more eye candy. After the issue debuted on Tuesday, the ad introduced the 2013 Mustang and swimsuit model Dalena Henriques. They smartly anticipated that those who came across the ad in the issue would also want to see more photos (at least a headshot) of the mysterious Dalena Henriques. The top result of the search leads to http://dalenahenriques.com, where visitors are given more eye candy…just maybe not the kind they’re looking for.

What’s the best way to dominate the search results? Make up a search term that previously didn’t exist. After visiting Dalena’s “portfolio” page above, you can guess that Dalena Henriques isn’t real. In less than 48 hours, there are already 16,100 results for “dalena henriques.” 16,099 media hits in less than two days and expanding engagement beyond just a single ad? Not bad…

Why SOPA Will Stifle Innovation

What has always made America great is its ability to lead the world in innovation. That innovation may be at risk of being censored as Congress considers legislation titled the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The legislation is meant to help protect American innovation by punishing off-shore copyright infringers, but unfortunately this legislation will ultimately punish the very innovation it’s intended to protect.

I try to avoid taking political stances (it tends to be bad business), but if SOPA is passed, it would stifle free enterprise in an industry that is leading American innovation. I was surprised to see that this legislation is supported largely by pro-business legislators and organizations; groups I might normally endorse. As an entrepreneur, I fail to understand supporters’ shortsightedness on this issue. Don’t misunderstand me, websites that knowingly pirate content should be punished, but the current SOPA bill is so broad that innocent websites could get swept into the fray.

The legislation is structured in such a way that if a copyright infringement claim is submitted on a piece of content, the entire website will be investigated. During this investigation the entire website in question would be blocked. For example, if a pirated video makes its way onto YouTube and an infringement claim is submitted, YouTube.com will shutdown in its entirety during the investigation. Additionally, YouTube could be held liable for hosting that illegal content. This increased risk of liability litigation would lead to the destruction of the user-generated content movement that has been so important to the Internet’s growth over the past few years.

Moreover, the FBI’s servers need to be able to access and shutdown any suspected websites of infringement. This means that security standards that been implemented in recent years to protect consumers’ privacy would have to be rolled back, leaving millions of consumers at risk.

Big companies like YouTube, Google and Facebook may have the financial wherewithal to endure a piracy infringement claim, but smaller tech startups wouldn’t be able to afford an investigation, even if the claim turns out to be false. A website shutdown means lost revenue and expensive legal fees, a deadly combination for startups. How can legislation like this promote economic growth? At such an important time in our economy, we cannot afford to stifle innovation and free enterprise. The rest of the Internet largely agrees.

Today, the Internet united to protest SOPA. In an act of solidarity, dozens of high-profile websites have expressed their opposition to the bill. Each website took a stand in their own unique way, but the message was always the same: SOPA would kill the Internet and the innovation that fuels it. Turntable.fm’s anti-SOPA statement was subtle but strong. Google dedicated its iconic Doodle to state its opposition to the bill. In a more bold statement, Wikipedia actually shut down their entire website, dramatically demonstrating how SOPA might affect the Web.






Content pirates will always find ways to circumvent the system; they’ve been doing it for decades. The only accomplishment of this bill would be to punish the companies that are growing our economy. There has to be a better way to investigate and punish these pirates; SOPA is definitely not the answer. What do you think?

How Mead Johnson is Mishandling the Enfamil Recalls

As new dad, my eyebrows raised when I heard about a recent bacteria infection found in Enfamil Premium Newborn formula (which happens to be the formula that we feed our daughter).

Right before Christmas, two babies in Missouri became infected with a bacteria called Cronobacter. One of the babies recovered, but the other baby – who was only 10 days old – died from the infection. Cronobacter has sometimes been found in milk-based powdered baby formula, but it is also a relatively common environmental contaminant. Initial speculation labels 12.5 ounce cans of Enfamil Premium Newborn formula as the culprit.

Because Cronobacter has been previously found in baby formula, these manufacturers routinely test the formula before it leaves the factory. The maker of Enfamil formula, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Inc., has made it abundantly clear through several press statements that they rigorously test for Cronobacter and that the batch of formula in question tested (and re-tested) negative for the bacteria when it left the factory. It is taking the position that because the formula had not been infected in the factory that the infant’s death was not the fault of Mead Johnson, Inc. Because the FDA has not yet issued a general recall, Mead Johnson is not taking any further action at this time.

The infected can of formula that caused the death of the little boy was purchased at a local Wal-Mart in Missouri, and while the FDA and CDC conduct an investigation to identify the source of the Cronobacter infection, Wal-Mart has recalled all Enfamil Premium Newborn formula and pulled the product from all store shelves nationwide “out of an abundance of caution.” Meanwhile, several other retailers who sell the 12.5 ounce cans of Enfamil Premium Newborn formula have followed suit and proactively pulled the product from their shelves until the cause of the infection is identified. The investigation could take up to one week to complete.

Instead of getting out in front of the media maelstrom and pulling its products from the shelves as a precaution, Mead Johnson has taken a defensive stance and denied any responsibility for the death. The resonating message coming from Mead Johnson is that “it’s not our fault.” Sure, they may turn out to not be at fault, but their lack of concern for the consumers from the outset places them in a severely negative light.

On the other hand, the retailers seem to have gotten it right. Even though Wal-Mart may turn out to be at fault, they and the other retailers who have pulled the product off the shelves are taking an overly cautious approach that puts them in a more positive light with consumers. It’ll be curious to see how both Mead Johnson and retailers react as more details come to light about the source of the infection.

For what it’s worth, Mead Johnson did take one line to express their condolences to the grieving family. Their sincerity is almost palpable…

We’ll Be Back After These Messages…

For those of you who don’t know, my wife and I are expecting our first child any day now. It’s an exciting time for us as a family, and I’d like to take some important time off from blogging/tweeting/posting/updating/etc. to spend some quality time with my wife, soon-to-be daughter and my dog.

I’ll be back soon and I’m sure that I’ll have lots of opinions to all the changes in the emerging media space that will occur during my hiatus. In the meantime, I hope the Interwebs behave themselves…