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In case you've been living under a rock, Time recently announced 26 year-old Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook, as its 'Person of the Year'? for 2010. The special issue and accompanying articles go into great detail on the amazing success that Facebook has achieved in the seven years since it was all started in a Harvard dorm room in 2004 ' 550 million members and currently growing at a rate of 700,000 people per day. While the results and achievements by Facebook are startling and well documented (I still need to see The Social Network), it was Zuckerberg's vision for the future of the web that I found the most interesting part of the piece. This vision, labeled as the 'Facebookization of the Web'? in the article, will redefine the importance that the internet plays in helping many consumers make purchase decisions. Before buying, I always first check out the product features and consumer reviews on the web. As marketers, we are all well aware of the power of Word of Mouth and the weight that a recommendation from a friend or family member carries with it. Unfortunately, the major problem with online reviews is that they are made by complete strangers. Maybe the product is great but the reviewer just had a bad day. Or maybe they found installation/setup to be a breeze because they are an engineer for NASA. How can I trust a recommendation or a complaint made by someone I know nothing about? Zuckerberg plans to change all of this by enabling consumers to utilize their social network as an online resource when doing things like comparing brands, researching potential vacation trips, trying to choose what movie to see, etc. Imagine being able view friends' reviews first upon visiting a site. Consumers will be able to make much more informed purchase decisions by having a social context and a relationship to the reviewer. As Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO states, 'It's a shift from the wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends. It doesn't matter if 100,000 people like x. If the three people closest to you like y, you want to see y." Of course, which friends or family members to trust will be completely up to you. Reference: Grossman, Lev. 'Mark Zuckerberg.'? Time December 15, 2010

Sweet Deal

Recently, Facebook announced the addition of a deals service to its Facebook Places. Similar to Four Square, after 'checking- in'? via their mobile device, consumers are able to view a variety of deals being offered in their area. After selecting the offer desired, redemption is as easy as showing the screen of your cell-phone to the cashier. With over 200 million consumers accessing Facebook via their cell phone, this application seems like a no-brainer for businesses struggling with how to drive consumers into their stores. Facebook Deals are very easy to create and companies have control over the duration and quantity of the deals being offered. Currently, there are four different types of deals for brands to work with: 1. Individual ' standard purchase incentive for new or existing customers. 2. Friends ' builds exposure by offering discounts to a larger group who must 'check-in'? together. 3. Loyalty ' customers access deals by checking in multiple times. 4. Charity ' brand donates dollars for every 'check-in'?, thereby giving back to the community. Most importantly, Facebook Deals are convenient. While businesses can only run one of these Deals at a time, the duration and quantity settings provide the opportunity to test different types of Deals throughout the year to see which works best. Consumers do not have to worry about printing anything or forgetting their coupon at home. And retailers can have a special offer in the market after only a few clicks of the mouse, immediately driving traffic into their locations. With Black Friday fast approaching, it will be interesting to see how retailers (especially mom-and-pop establishments) take advantage of this latest addition to Facebook Places in an effort to increase their holiday traffic.

You Got Me

Have you noticed the retro commercials that have been airing during new episodes of Mad Men? In fitting with the 1960's era of the show, they take us back to how products were marketed years ago at an old fashioned ad agency. An indirect result of these ads is that they consistently trip me up while trying to fast forward through the commercials. Like many people, my television watching habits have completely changed since the advent of the DVR. I rarely watch anything 'live'? anymore (with the exception of sports) and I take full advantage of being able to complete an episode faster by skipping through the commercials. But these spots during Mad Men pose an interesting challenge because they look and feel just like the show itself. You stop fast forwarding because you think you're back to the show, until realizing moments later that you're actually watching a commercial. You got me. A tricky, but effective strategy that as a marketer left me wondering, is this the next evolution of product placement? When TiVo first hit the market years ago, marketers feared that combining the ability to skip commercials with consumers' already shortened attention spans might result in the death of the traditional television spot. Years later, product placements are now so commonplace and expected that they've reached the point of annoyance. Consumers are starting to wonder, 'Does my favorite character really love Snapple, as the show creator intended? Or are character preferences now determined by whichever brands are paying to sponsor the show that year?'? As television producers get more protective over their show's integrity, advertisers may be left to come up with another solution for promoting their clients' brands. If the Mad Men example proves successful, how soon before we see other commercials leveraging the look and feel of the shows that they advertise during?

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