social networking

the most powerful marketing feature on facebook

Its brilliant. viral marketing is now passive. its voyeur marketing. its marketing nirvana.

The News Feed on Facebook. I “friend” people I like and/or admire (or who like and/or admire me). I visit my home page, and I get snippets of what they are doing. Joe joined a new group or made a new friend or became a “fan” of a new brand or product. “Gee”, I say to myself, “Joe’s a pretty savvy guy, I wonder what that group is, who that person is, what that brand is”.

And there it is. I’m checking it out because Joe checked it out, and Joe didn’t have to take the active role of advocate. I am interested in what he does, so I can follow it passively.

I’m not sure if this was the original intent of the News Feed, but I think its the very most powerful form of viral marketing I’ve seen. Why? Because Joe doesn’t need to take the step of endorsing something. It’s his interest in something that is conveyed. And since I’m interested in what he’s interested in… it works. And I don’t need to become some smarmy “brand ambassador”. And as a marketing person, I don’t need to go find some way to incent or create some a “viral feature” that doesn’t really match my audience. Its gorgeous.

Even better! The Facebook Beacon application. Its a fantastic opportunity. I’m integrating this into my client’s project TODAY. The Facebook Beacon lets you make actions on your site feed into the News Feed on Facebook. Yes. If someone buys something, watches a video (I hope this works, I’m going to try it later and let you know), posts a comment or what have you, it will post to the News Feed. Yes, they’ve made it opt-out and privacy respecting. But the facebook audience is really into sharing. They don’t opt-out in droves.

So – what you get is a tool. If you create engagement on your site, you’ll be spreading the news of that engagement among your users’ friends. Without that user needing to do anything.

It’s perfect. For companies that have been trying to reach a younger demographic through social networking, and have had some trouble knowing where to start, it provides a great, low effort, low risk opportunity. I am going to be working with this quite a bit over the next few weeks, and I’ll report the results.