Business Marketing

Quick notes on Facebook’s f8 08 developer conference

I went to f8 yesterday and I can’t say I had the best time in the world. I probably have more fun at LinuxWorld, but maybe my expectations are lower when I don’t pay $150 to get in. I was hoping to get some more juicy details about the platform, especially about the business side, but the content is mostly people on panels talking about what they do. The most interesting and well-organized presentation on the business track was run by Jia from RockYou. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting, I just wish there was a bit more preparation.

I’m sure all the announcements have been well-covered. I haven’t gone into Google Reader yet today, but I wanted to note a few things.

  • Wireless was horrible.
  • That there was constant music was OK, but it was usually too loud.
  • I saw Marc Canter, Robert Scoble and Mike Arrington walking around (separately), and intellectually I wanted to say hello to them…but I chickened out.
  • Arrington was wearing flip flops. There’s probably a bad pun in there somewhere, but I won’t go there.
  • As Mike Arrington walked by me, I suddenly reconceptualized him as human being, not a sometimes-aggravating participant of the Gillmor Gang. It made me appreciate him more.
  • I am not an Arrington fanboy. I am a Steve Gillmor fanboy. I didn’t spot Steve at f8. 😛
  • There were a couple viable consultancies who help traditional agencies develop Facebook strategies. I’m going to push hard to get Clear Ink to offer those services.
  • Zuckerberg’s keynote made me thirsty for (virtual) kook-aid. The goal of increasing social connections appeals to me. I’m not sure I’ve heard a tech company pitch their vision on being part of a real social movement as compared to offering me something that would be fun to have.
  • Coolest company name: Shanghype.
  • I’m still enjoying the idea that people in Liverpool started a fan group for me on Facebook.

Random Facebook Status Messages, Delivered Daily

Late last year, I knocked out a little facebook app that pushed a random status message into your facebook account. I used it as an excuse to learn about the API. It was particularly good because it’s one thing to simply put content up into facebook. It’s another thing to update a user’s status. I got to the idea by way of suggestinon from my buddy, John Szeder. He wanted his status to update without having to log in.

For many months, my little app didn’t do that, exactly. You still had to log in, click into the app and then click a submit button. I knew exactly how to make it automatic, but I let myself be lazy. I thought that if a user never came to use my app, he would never think about my app or see a bit of advertisement. Although I have no expectations that this app will generate real revenue, it’s fun to pretend it might. It’s good practice.

I should take a second here to reveal a “secret”. It’s not really a secret, because it’s easy to find if you want. I’ll tell you now. You can learn a lot of good ideas if you pay attention to Steve Gillmor and his Gillmor Gang. I have had the fortune of having discovered him about three years ago, plus I have a 35-minute commute that gives me a ample time to listen to the podcasts. Sometimes the ideas shared on the show simply spark my imagination. This time they gave me an idea I could use.

The particular idea was that every message on Twitter is an advertisement. As is typical with a Gillmorism, the metaphorical nature of this idea encourages you to leave your dictionary on your desk. Steve went for at least a year straight saying that MS Office was dead. It’s not that it makes no money. It’s not that no one uses it. It’s just that it’s headed for anilation, but hardly anyone has noticed yet.

So, don’t try to take this too literally. A tweet is not a billboard shouting at you about cigarettes that you don’t care to smell, much less smoke. Twitter is a medium for transmitting ideas that you might be interested. It’s smart because it allows you to opt in for those ideas. You’re smart because you chose emitters that you hope will send the type of ideas you’re interested in.

If a tweet is an adverstisement, then so is a facebook status. I’m already funneling all of my tweets into my facebook status. Therefore, they are the same thing. Most people are using the status messages to advertise to their friends the trivia of what they are doing. Some people use them to share links. I’m using them to send people to a random Amazon search on the off chance it will be amusing and they will buy something.

Granted, it’s a fine line. I think my weird, random status messages are interesting. So do about 15 other people (right now). Maybe their friends like it. Maybe their friends find it annoying. Maybe those people like that their friends find it annoying. If I were pushing 20th century shout-style ads, I bet people would be angry.