Facebook: The data possibilities continue..

It was with no surprise that I read the mass of press releases across the weekend and saw it announced that Facebook was planning on offering consumer insight on the back of its “150 million strong database” (Guardian.co.uk) -its been a long time coming! Since the commercialisation of the channel it was only a matter of time before the insight that was building the adsales guys cases (why you should reach your audience here) could be turned into a much more interesting tool: One that allows individuals to actual read about where people are going.

Currently we’re constantly faced with a Facebook conundrum. It’s important to play in the space – particularly when so many brands will see such a high propensity of their target audience whiling away their hours in the space BUT to what point is it accountable. Until recently we’d been stuck (in agency / client stand offs) to using fan pages (as these could be tracked) and struggled to make those in the marketing team not so familiar with the digital space to regard those interacting with the brand, away from the brand site, as important as those who visit their .com presence regardless of whether we can report back numbers or not. We’ve now moved out of fans and into the friend influencer category whereby data isn’t tracked but immediately the experience we can have with users and the experience they can have with us has increased dramatically seeing more affect in a 7 day period than previously we’d achieved across 3 months. Its with this relief that the potential for insight to be made availability that makes the numbers analyst in me excited and the creative proportion of my brain (admittedly smaller than the analyst!) groan.

Facebook has always dabbled in its potential to track and provide insight. Their new Lexicon shows quite clearly where the revenues could be coming from as the tool begins to model things like user Sentiment, Association and Demographic information on users posting about particular terms. The demo model they’ve produced merely hints at whats to come (you can’t yet input your own terms) but you can bet that unlike the current tracking tool you wont be able to simply type in your own terms and view how these things are tracking (although I’d be happily surprised if this isn’t the case!)

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Interestingly the current Lexicon tool has very limited worth to a client (more a pictoral representation than anything of statistical value) but, based on the initial glance we’ve been given of the new version it has learnt from the likes of Google Anayltics and one of many of the reputation monitoring companies to be able to give agencies (and brands) the information they need to be able to listen and influence (if thats the objective).

It will be interesting to see how quickly facebook’s intention to sell data becomes a marketable product. It will also be interesting to see how much more complicated brands who are dabbling in the space suddenly find the fact that data availability suddently stops them offering the more experiential led tactics that aren’t as trackable.

Will this simply become another example of the constraint of data availability begining to put creativity and user experience back in shackles…

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Posted on February 4, 2009, in Social Media, Think Digital and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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