The Digital Skeptic: Making Book on Facebook
By Jonathan Blum - 08/14/12 - 8:00 AM EDT
Tickers in this article: FBNEW YORK (MainStreet) -- For better or worse, in these nutty days, you just can't judge Facebook
The essential takeaway when dusting off the cover and flipping through the pages of Facebook is how much of this fabled company remains just that, a fable. Take the comScore report. Remember back in the day, like last month, when Facebook was all about users, friends and likes? Well, now a billion users is apparently no longer enough. Marketers, according to this document, must start focusing on slippery concepts such as "fan reach," "engagement" and -- my favorite -- "amplification." It's all rather murky, in a Spinal Tap sort of way, but I think it means getting a liker to comment on what you liked and then getting that person's friends to comment or like your comment or like. I got that, like, right, right? And the Limited Run incident is by no means the only case of Facebook advertising not working as advertised. The BBC conducted a hilarious, and very disturbing, study in which it created a fake business called VirtualBagel that got 1,600 likes in 24 hours, even though it had no products. The Facebook page for this nonservice has become must-read for all those interested in advertising with this company. But even darker, as the company seeks to disclose its issues to the media: If you dig into documents the company discloses with regulators, it's clear Facebook knows it has much writing to do. There are the issues with getting paid in the mobile space; issues about security; and then on page 24 of a recent 10-Q filing there is language that estimates that close to 4% of its accounts may be suspect, bots or outright spam. The overall unfinished-book feel to Facebook is not lost on analysts who read up on the company. "This is a totally new platform," Andrew Lipsman, vice president of industry analysis at comScore and the report's co-author, told Time.com. "There are some unique aspects to it, and we're still in the early days. This process will play out over the next couple of years." The scary part is that all this on-the-fly business model writing will have to get done in an utterly new digital economy that devalues most every bit of information it touches. The story that gets written here will be, at best, a guess. Meaning making the book on Facebook will be one of the toughest investor reads ever.
Tickers in this article: FB
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