Issued by: Global Vision, By: Jon Jacobson
Facebook has changed the way as many as 400 million people are engaging with the Web on a regular basis, 200 million of them every day. Users are accessing Facebook to access “their world” on the Web. As a result, Facebook has now dethroned Google as the most accessed website in the US. And with Facebook plug-ins being incorporated into over 250,000 sites already (50 of which are among comScore’s Global Top 100 Websites), the Web is increasingly becoming more and more relevant to Facebook users with each passing day.
I first noticed this on the CNN site when I accessed the home page and to my right I saw news pieces that had been recommended by a couple of my Facebook friends. Of course, the presence of these recommendations by friends on Facebook now makes my CNN experience seem more familiar, personal and, above all, relevant. And this seems to be what the next big wave on the Web, or let’s say Web 3.0, is all about. If we try and sum up Web 2.0 in one word, it was all about collaboration. End users creating their own content and interacting with each other on the Web. It was the wave brought on by wikis, blogs, social media and increased accessibility. A wave which became mainstream in 2006 when Time Magazine’s Person of the Year was “You”. “You” were now in control of publishing content on the Web. “You” were engaging with companies, brands and individuals on your terms. “You” could now get news, TV programmes, music, radio broadcasts, etc. when “you” want it. But don’t worry, Web 3.0 is still all about “you”. It’s just going to be even more so. With Web 3.0, it’s about the Web becoming smarter, getting to know you better from your browsing history (and all you’ve contributed to it during Web 2.0) and automatically delivering content to you that is relevant.
A recent article on CNN, “How Facebook won the Web”, by guest columnist Pete Cashmore from Mashable.com goes on to explain ways in which Facebook are working to personalise the Web and thereby extend their reach and dominance on the Web. According to Cashmore, Facebook is able to take Google’s search strategy one giant leap further. Where Google have based the ranking of their search results on the number of sites linking back to a page, or how relevant a page may be to “other” Web users, Facebook is in a position to deliver search results “based on your friendships and interests,” or how relevant search results are to your social network and you.
Facebook’s “Like” button has been a key driver. Every time you “Like” something on Facebook, Facebook is getting to know you better. You can “Like” an ad, a posting, or a page set up by a brand, music, or organisation. And now Facebook has made it easy for 3rd party sites to add “Like” buttons to their content, so you can start letting Facebook know everything that you “like” on the Web.
Of course, Facebook already have your basic demographics: age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, language and location. As a result, the combination of these demographics, your preferences as defined by your “likes” and the “likes” expressed by your social network puts Facebook in a position to deliver highly relevant ads and search results. A position marketers would kill for, but can actually attain within their own market by replicating Facebook’s strategy using emerging channels and technology.
New channels such as the Web, social media, email, and mobile have now made it easier and quicker to track individual consumer responses to campaigns. As a result, marketers now have an easier time learning from their campaigns, understanding their consumers’ preferences, and building on these learnings to increase the relevance of the messaging to the right consumer segment. Sounds a lot like Facebook’s strategy, doesn’t it? Perhaps Marketing is in a very similar stage of development as the Web: the drive towards increasing relevance. Relevance is not only what Web 3.0 is all about, but what marketers should strive for in their engagement with consumers. Relevance gives consumers the sense that your brand can fulfill their needs better than a competitor. Relevance thus builds loyalty and marketing effectiveness.
As a marketer, is this not what you should be striving for?