Calm Down. Facebook Isn't Dying.

If you work in social media, you've been hearing variations on a theme for the past week: Facebook is in trouble! It's lost young users! It's getting crushed by upstart social networks! Eighty percent of its users will disappear in the next few years!

But as was the case with Mark Twain, reports of Facebook's death are an exaggeration:

  • That Princeton report seriously misses the mark. Last week, two Princeton PhD students circulated a report predicting Facebook would lose 80% of its users by 2017. They used epidemiological models to predict that, like MySpace before it, both the rise and fall of Facebook would look like the spread of a virus. But the research wasn’t peer-reviewed, and wasn’t published in any journal, and you can perhaps see why. Facebook itself did a pretty good job of pointing out the limitations of the researchers’ methodology. And I see another problem with this study: The MySpace ‘virus’ hardly mutated in all the years it infected the world, but the Facebook ‘virus’ mutates frequently. One of Facebook’s greatest strengths is its practice of regularly adding new features and functionality to its site; this both ensures it infects new users and also makes sure existing users don’t become immune to its charms.
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Enter the 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards!

We're now accepting entries for the 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards — the deadline is February 28 — and we'd love to recognize your social marketing programs at our Marketing Leadership Forum this April. But in what category should you submit your program?

Just as in 2013, our award categories are based on Forrester’s marketing RaDaR research. Both our business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) awards will offer three categories:

  • Social reach. This category recognizes social programs that delivered marketing messages to new audiences. (After all, people can’t discover what you’re selling if they’re never exposed to it.) If your social program was designed to create awareness for your brand or product or promotion, it was probably an example of social reach marketing. If you focused your efforts on word-of-mouth marketing, paid social advertising, or thought leadership work, it also probably fits into this category.
  • Social depth. This category recognizes social programs that helped prospects explore your products in detail and make a purchase decision. If your social program was designed to close existing prospects or leads, it was probably an example of social depth marketing. If you focused your efforts on on-site social tools like blogs, ratings and reviews, or communities that help prospects get information from existing customers, it also probably fits into this category.
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Now Accepting Entries: The 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards

Every year since 2007, Forrester has recognized the very best social marketing programs from around the world — and I’m thrilled to announce we’re now accepting entries for the eighth annual Forrester Groundswell Awards.

The rules are simple: Entries should represent the effective use of social technologies to advance an organizational goal. The more data you can offer to prove this, the better your chances of winning. You can enter using our online form. If you win, you get a nice shiny trophy, a winner’s badge for your website, and lots of recognition from Forrester.

And this year’s deadline is February 28, 2014. (We've changed our timeline this year so that we can give out the awards at our 2014 Marketing Leadership Forum in San Francisco in April.)

So which categories should you enter? See our video for more details:

Remember: The deadline is February 28. You’ve got eight weeks to prepare and submit your company’s best social work. We look forward to your entries!

The Dark Side of the Database of Affinity?

Last year we introduced a concept called the Database of Affinity — a catalogue of people's tastes and preferences collected by observing their social behaviors — and proposed that the greatest marketing value of social media won't come from marketing to people on social sites, but rather using this database of affinity to improve the marketing that happens everywhere else. And in 2013, several social networks started to pursue this opportunity: For instance, Facebook launched an artificial intelligence research team and Google started selling "affinity segments" targeting on its properties.

But are social sites going too far in their effort to build the database of affinity? Perhaps. Recently we've seen reports that some social networks are tracking not just the information that you choose to share, but even information you choose not to share. For instance, Facebook has admitted to studying "aborted posts" — the things people type into Facebook (as status updates, in comments, and on other people's timelines) but then choose not to post. Likewise, both Google and Foursquare apparently use their mobile apps track users' locations at all times, even when people aren't actively using those company's apps.

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