In an analytics  meeting yesterday, I shared this scenario with the participants and expect this/ would love to see this implemented by Facebook.

When asked if they could track and analyse Facebook (or any other private conversation networks’) conversations around a brand, teams from any analytics dashboard company typically reply with a weak, yes.

The reason is usually not to do with technology gaps, but with the fact that a majority of these conversations take place on people’s own Walls – where they spend their time and speak about their life, and, brand preferences/ experiences. These, however, are private spaces, and what analytics dashboards ‘can’ track are only open conversations that happen on  brand ‘Pages’, which are not private.  Pages, therefore, represent just a tiny proportion of total conversations around that brand; and given that it requires some motivation to go and participate in conversations on a brand Page, the participants, one could argue, would also be more polarised – fans/ haters.

Facebook understands the clash of  private/ public very well and has, very consciously, tried to move ‘brand’ related conversations into the public domain.

  • Groups, which are private to the members, and add nothing to conversations outside them and ‘get’ nothing to conversations inside them, have been pushed back
  • Pages, which are open, highly viral with comments and likes, and penetrate the participants time-line are currency today. Pages allow marketers to build communities far easily and I expect more, including e commerce, to move to Pages.

Since the best – most natural, impromptu – brand related conversations happen on people’s Walls, (it takes some motivation to find a brand Page and participate in conversations there) how do you dip into them to figure out views and opinion; and get people to share them?

Possible answer: If conversations don’t come to you; go to them.

As my colleague Amita contributed to the discussion yesterday- already when you fill in your ‘Likes & Interests’ on Facebook, they get associated with an existing Page.

The solution may be in ‘suggesting’ to the user, an ‘option’ to put the status update on ‘that brand’s Page’ rather than on his/ her wall.

So, I am writing “I went to watch Robot and, as expected, Rajni rocks” and Facebook locates a ‘Rajni Fans’ Page, or,  a ‘Robot the Movie’ Page and asks me if I would like to publish this message there instead.

Why one might consider doing so

  1. It doesn’t require any additional effort
  2. It’s impromptu
  3. A comment can attract more participation on a brand Page; including from the brand owner
  4. An opinion can influence more people

Even if a percentage take up the option, you’ve got more organic conversations move to open Pages. Over a period in time, the percentage will likely increase and may become the norm (we have already the concept of privacy undergo major change).

Value for brand owners

  1. Exponential growth in conversations and community
  2. Organic, natural, impromptu conversation = real insights
  3. Aggregation  – customers; prospects; fans; opinion; feedback

Challenges

  1. People who comment on my Wall posts are friends, not strangers – as might become the case in the new scenario, but it may not be an insurmountable challenge to correct that
  2. Friends comment on status updates because they see them on the Wall. How do we get them to see them on the Wall and on the brand Page  – would friends comment on an open Page? At the least they would have to be informed/ warned that their comment is going to an open Page.

I will update this post with more thoughts, but I do hope that someone from the Facebook team sees this post and works upon it further.

UPDATE: 10.29 am, 2 October 2010

Interestingly, Amita just pointed me to Facebook Instant.

Do add your thoughts to take this discussion forward.