My Day at Facebook FMC – Part 1 March 2, 2012

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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This past Wednesday I was in New York attending the Facebook FMC (Facebook Marketing Conference) event at the Natural History Museum. It was quite an affair with over 1,000 people in attendance. What follows is a recap.  I’m breaking this into multiple postings because it will get way too long and boring if I don’t.

(Note, many of the photos were taken by me – so don’t complain, I did my best!)

At noon I entered the museum just as the rain started coming down.  Registration was painless, people standing around with iPads asked for your name then sent you to a table to get your RFID encoded badge and a handy guidebook describing the day’s events.  From there I entered the museum and found a mass of people shaking hands with Facebook employees and friends.

Attendees gather in the museum’s hall

I was able to connect with several Facebook employees whom I’d met back in June of 2011 when I’d attended a small conference at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, CA .  They were excited at about what we were going to see during the day and promised to make themselves available after the conference if I had any questions.

Scattered around the room were places where you could take photos of yourself and tap your badge to upload automatically to your Facebook page.  There was also a place, where with a tap of your badge, it would scan your Facebook profile and create your own theme song which would play as you walked into the main hall.  I wish I could tell you either of these things worked, but sadly they didn’t.  I joked with the Facebook staff manning the computers about the irony of a technology fail at this particular event.

At around 1pm we all crammed into the museum’s main theater.  Apparently there were originally supposed to be 300 invites but that escalated to nearly 1,100 with hundreds being denied access.

First up was Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO.

I’m a big fan of Sheryl.  After hearing her speak last year and meeting her, I came back telling everyone I know that she would some day run for President.  Sheryl was definitely good, but it was a little different seeing her on a big stage versus seeing her in a small conference room.  She spoke for about 20 minutes talking mostly about the social graph and how Facebook has changed people’s lives.

I wrote a little note to myself that I felt like I was at the Church of Facebook and Sheryl was the preacher.  And she did a very good job.  She showed how people had used Facebook to help diagnose diseases, how governments had been toppled, and how adoptions had been made possible.

She spoke about the transparency in the world that has been proliferated thanks to Facebook, citing examples such as how congressman Justin Amash posts everything he votes for and why on Facebook.

And she ended by reminding us all that social media is about listening and not just talking and that as marketers and brands we need to have a 2 way conversation with our customers.

Next up was Chris Cox, VP of Products.  I was excited to see Chris because he was one of the few people I did not meet at Facebook last year.

Chris told the story of his awkward interview at Facebook back in 2004 and how Dustin Moskovitz explained to him how big Facebook was.  I liked how he summed up Facebook as “The first ever collaborative directory of people.”  Chris shared how Facebook has evolved from a very bland and fairly useless college student directory to a company intently focused on bringing people closer.  He also noted how focused they are on mobile and television.

Chris Cox showing the original design of The Facebook

Chris spent much of his time talking about the evolution of Facebook and called out Ticketmaster specifically as a company that had seen revenue growth of $6 per user as a result of their recent app that enabled people to find where their friends were sitting at shows.  He summarized Facebook as a provider of these three things:

  1. The Graph – A collaboratively-built directory of people, places, and things
  2. The Personal Newspaper – Rich, interactive, portable, social
  3. The Social Platform – Bring these tools to any software on any device

After Chris came Mike Hoefflinger, Facebook’s Director of Global Business Marketing.  Mike was the one who really dove into the new features of Facebook.  He stated that the new Facebook Timeline pages for brands were available today.

He went on to cite some of the first brands to showcase themselves in this new format including: Starbucks, American Express, Walmart, Red Bull, Kia, Macys, Butterfinger, Ben & Jerry’s, and Fanscape (just kidding).

Mike explained that as of today, in addition to the new brand pages, it was also the first time people could direct message brands, and it was the debut of “Offers” that could be sent to people on their phone and via email automatically because “Facebook already has their information.”

He then rolled out what this would look like and proceeded to show how brands could advertise to make this even more effective.  He made points about how the average person sees 16% of what is shared with them and that using their advertising platform, you could now reach upwards of 50% a week or 75% a month of your fans using what they called, “Reach Generator.”  He claimed beta-test brands such as Butterfinger had seen 6 point increases in brand visibility as a result of using Reach Generator.  The point he was making is that it is possible to now buy your way onto your brand’s home page and make the most relevant “stories” stick.  i.e. pin them on the home page via an ad.  This is Facebook’s big new advertising approach.  They want you to come up with great content such as a wall post, a video, an offer, etc. and then keep it prominently positioned on your page along with the endorsements (Likes, comments, etc.) from your fans thus ensuring that the optimal amount of fans see it.  Mike also made it clear that this new format would be available on mobile.  Additionally he said that Facebook is now offering up a way to connect with your fans as they log off as well.

Mike summarized by making the following points:

  • Pages are “Mission Control” for a brand and that after testing this new ad format brands were seeing 3X ROI
  • Brands need to understand how to communicate with their fans on their Pages and that by doing this correctly they will create great content that can then be used to reach more people via what they call “Premium on Facebook”
  • Premium on Facebook is the best way to ensure that people see your content (“stories”) on Facebook
  • Starting today, when you are telling stories, this now can be featured in the news feed and that you could expect 5-10x Click Through Rate (CTR)
  • Starting today Premium on Facebook works on mobile
  • Starting today there will be an additional ad placement on the logout screen – he claimed that 37 Million people logout every day and 105 Million logout every month
  • Stories are the new evolution of ads

The final presentation on the big stage during the first session was David Fisher, VP of Business and Marketing Partnerships who explained that while we are all marketers, we’re also customers.  He then brought on a panel of three senior executives:

  • Stephen Quinn – CMO and EVP of Walmart
  • Nigel Morris – CEO of Aegis Media North America
  • Chris McCann – President of 1-800-Flowers.com

and then proceeded to talk about how social media plays a role in their businesses.

Stephen explained that Walmart has embraced the “Social-by-Design” mantra that Facebook often touts and is aggressively working to make the shopper experience more social.  Nigel made the point that a current struggle is to hire people under 30 and then to keep them.  He said, “we need to evolve our businesses to accomplish this.”

And that was the end of the first presentations.  I’ll recap the rest of the day in my next blog post…  HERE.