How Facebook’s Open Strategy Shifts The Roadmap for Corporate Marketing and Support

Bold Strategy Bolsters Users, Developers, and Brands
In a recent meeting at Facebook HQ, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Facebook is opening its doors to share roadmaps, data, and it’s experience.  This strategy shifts attention towards as a sole destination, and towards a distributed network to the open web.  Looking deeper, these impacts should shape your corporate web strategy as you re-allocate resources for application development, prepare for Social CRM, and prepare your corporate webpages to become “Facebook Fan Page” enabled.

To Combat Google’s Stealth Social Network, Facebook Goes Open
Facebook’s recent moves to In an open discussion, they revealed that they’re attempting to take great strides in the spirit of openness –yet beyond the ‘feel good’ move, this prepares Facebook for a more distributed approach, that will help them further colonize the open web.  With the growth of the Facebook population blooming to 300 million, they’ve already demonstrated critical mass. Yet Facebook’s biggest threat isn’t other social networks like MySpace, or Bebo, their biggest threat is Google’s stealth social network, which seeks to envelope Facebook like an octopus. In order to countermove Google’s zen-like play, they’re taking a similar open approach, here’s what you should know:

How Facebook’s Open Strategy Shifts The Roadmap for Corporate Marketing
Although they announced several improvements (like a cleaner UI),  let’s focus on three strategic initiatives and what they mean to brands:

Revealing Roadmap Strengthens All Relationships
From allowing non-students to join the community, launching the newsfeed to the ill-fated Beacon, Facebook’s spirit of innovation has often gotten ahead of its users.  In a response to help both users and developers better understand Facebook’s future vision, they have now shared their 6 month roadmap in public for all to see.  This helps developers properly allocate resources and prepare product timelines, as well as give users and brands forewarning for upcoming changes.  This move not only helps with planning, but signals a relationship of trust, and indicates this is more about ‘us’ than just Facebook.

Sharing of Email Addresses Fuels Social CRM
Facebook plans to allow users to share their email address with developers and brands at the control of the consumer.   Currently, corporate marketing and support systems are unable to easily identify which customers are talking about brands in the public web –there is no unique identifier.   Because email is a unique, universal identifier, (a primary key) brands who are investing in social CRM can better identify users. The promise to identify prospects vs customers, provide faster and customized support customers, or even provide contextual information will be at hand.

Fan Pages Everywhere Connects Corporate Sites and Social Networks
Facebook will soon allow website owners to allow any of their webpages to now embed Facebook Fan features.  This “Open Graph API” allows any product page could have Fan features that allow users to subscribe by becoming fans, and receive information on their Facebook newsfeeds that could be seen by their friends.   This competitive move to Google’s SideWiki, extends the Facebook experience beyond the social network to corporate websites –making every webpage social.

Recommendations: Update your 2010 Planning:
Web strategists who have an active customer base in Facebook, should shift resources and planning for 2010 based on Facebook’s roadmap, in order to align with these significant changes, they should:

  • Evolve Your Web Strategy Roadmap Brands and developers should analyze the changes coming to the Facebook platform, and start to allocate resources.  Although the roadmap provides general dates (month or quarter) around feature releases, developers should engage in dialog within the developer community or with Facebook themselves.  In particular, the sharing of email addresses is planned for Nov 2009, and owners of the your Social CRM program should start planning immediately.  Secondly, with the Facebook Fan page features coming in early 2010,  web strategists should identify appropriate products to test, begin iterative design, and ensure legacy CMS systems are able to include these client side scripts.
  • Integrate Social Marketing with Existing Email Marketing If you’ve earned the trust of your customers, and they’ve shared their email address with your brand, you can now match their address with your existing customer databases and fuel your Social CRM initiatives.  Secondly, if customers have opt-in you can now provide useful emails to your customers, or adding additional rows in your existing email marketing programs.  Above all, be sure that you’re transparent with customers how you plan to use their email addressees, and always make it opt-in.
  • Boost Your Social CRM Strategy With Customer Data.  Social CRM is a company’s response to the fleeting customer who self-supports each other in public social networks.  In order to provide your customer with a holistic experience, you’ll need to map customer profiles in existing CRM databases to those in the public web.  Start a discussion immediately with your CRM team to prepare for this influx of data, while initially the data will be just emails, the information in their profile could help to build a richer customer model that aids marketing, development, and support.
  • Prepare Steady Cadence of Community Focused Content. Now that every webpage can become a Facebook Fan page, your raving customers will want to get more information about your products –and tell their friends.   You’ll need to create, and fulfill, an editorial agenda that fuels this ongoing dialog.  Forget about advertising as we know it, instead create an editorial agenda encourages dialog such as contests, incentives that can be shared with their friends.