Social Commerce and The People’s Republic of Facebook

One in eleven human beings are now on Facebook.

In fact if Facebook were a country it would be the world’s third largest with a population of 585m (it grew by 248m in 12 months by the way!)

Now consider that the entire population of Facebook by definition has access to the internet and therefore has more economic power than possibly any other country.

So when people claim that China is the world’s fastest growing economy – in fact it has officially just taken over from Japan as the world’s second largest – just think about the power of People’s Republic of Facebook.

Of course a Venn diagram would show a huge overlap with the other physical economic giants on the planet – the USA of course would take the biggest slice (147m Americans are registered on Facebook), but surprisingly, the UK comes in at number three (28.4m) – Indonesia is second (32.1m)

Given these numbers, it’s no wonder that more and more brands are looking to monetise their presence on the planets largest social network and so over the last few months we are seeing a rise in the phenomenon of social commerce, but recently renamed ‘f commerce’ for obvious reasons.

There appear to be two distinct ways in which people are directly trading from their Facebook page. One is to show merchandise with ‘click’ to buy buttons, but that simply then take you to the normal online store.  This is simply a shop window for the main store. Coca Cola and Barneys New York have taken this tack, by simply adding a ‘shop’ tab on their page.

The other approach is to drop in a store that pretty well replicates the brands online store, but is housed within the Facebook page, allowing fans to shop and checkout, all without leaving Facebook. An API can manage stock levels and make the whole process seamless.

How this will evolve is to be seen. My third party applications allow brands to drop ‘shoplets’ into their Facebook page and the technology behind these will no doubt develop rapidly over the next few months.

But the rush to F Commerce is most certainly on.

A word of warning however. F commerce makes your focus on customer care even more critical. If this rush to push products to the potential market of 585m consumers gets in the way of listening to them and understanding what their immediate needs and wants are, then they will find themselves not even a click away from telling their friends and other fans of the brand just what they think!

Reports of the Death of TV are Greatly Exaggerated

Despite the seemingly inexorable rise of online as means for brands to reach out to and engage directly with customers, a report from Advertising Age shows that whilst this is true for western countries, traditional print and broadcast media are growing fast in the world’s emerging economies.

Here’s a quick take of some of the findings:

1. TV is still a necessity – more so than ever in poorer countries.

2. We are watching more TV, not less despite the growth of internet access.

3. But what we watch is changing – more soccer and American Idol type shows – more than a third of the population of Afghanistan tune in regularly to ‘Afghan Star’!

4. Facebook continues to crush its online competitors.

5. ‘Cofficing’ – operating in cyber cafes, is the way people in developing countries are accessing the web.

6. Brazil, Russia, China, India and Indonesia are the most avid viewers of online video.

7. And these same people are accessing online content through mobile devices.

8. The spread of iPads and other tablets will continue to dominate.

9. Despite circulations declining for printed media in the west, they are growing in the developing world.

Whilst this blog is concerned primarily with social media and how business can win on the social web, I’m particularly delighted that TV isn’t dying. In fact having lived in the US for the last two years I can say that the quality of programming is higher than I ever thought or expected. American TV was a standing joke in the UK – “57 channels and nothing on” sang Bruce in 1992, but the quality of HBO’s output such as Boardwalk Empire and others like House and best of all, MadMen mean the bar is being raised in terms of quality.

However, advertisers need to continue to recognise that these audiences also want to engage with brands on their own turf – and that is to be found online.

The Future is Here!

Check out this video from Accenture. It shows thoughts of experts in field of cloud computing – their explanation of just how this new concept works is highly eloquent and cuts through much of the clutter around this subject you may have read about.

Oh, one thing. These experts are ten years old. They know nothing else. They can’t remember a time before the internet. They are your key influencers of the very near future.

Panic In Detroit

Not so much a panic as an exodus, but David Bowie didn’t write that song!

New Orleans had Katrina, New York 9/11. Both awful events, one natural, one the result of actions by mad, sad deluded men. Both, quite rightly, attracting huge levels of sympathy from across the globe. But in the Midwest, Detroit has experienced, and continues to experience a silent, more lingering and perhaps more permanent act of destruction.

There is now no rush hour in Detroit.

A city built for 2 million is the home for around 800,000. The decline of the motor industry which was responsible for the city’s greatness, means that hundreds of thousands have abandoned it, leaving it to the mercy of criminals and now back to nature itself.

Former well off neighbourhoods are becoming overgrown with trees and greenery, to a point where and an urban prairie is growing on the shores of Lake Erie. Detroit now resembles a post apocalyptic landscape. The town where Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, The Four Tops and so many other artists from Motown flourished, is dying.

Although Detroit is the largest casualty of this depression, other cities – Pittsburgh and Cleveland (cruelly known as, ‘The Mistake on the Lake’) are suffering badly also.

In his documentary, Requiem for Detroit, British producer and director, Julian Temple, gets to the heart of what was allowed to happen here. It’s a chilling tale, but one I believe needs to be seen and understood on a far wider scale.

As I’ve now learnt, there’s traditionally no love lost between Chicago and Detroit. But in the week that Richard Daley announced he wouldn’t be seeking re-election as Mayor of of the city for a sixth term, I think Chicagoans have plenty to thank him for in developing his city into a beautiful 21st century example of what can be achieved and saving it from the fate of Detroit.