God Loves Facebook

Proof, if any were needed, that the world is no longer a suitable place for right-thinking people like you and me, blog snorkellers mine, in light of the fact that it has gone completely and utterly hatstand.

Here’s some numbers for you. $500m. $50bn. $2m minimum. Can you tell what it is yet? How about $850m and $10m (or less)?

Well, the first set of figures is what the workers of God (the lovely people at Goldman Sachs) have invested in Facebook (in conjunction with some Russian oligarch), the apparent valuation this puts on Facebook’s business and the amount of liquid lolly you would have to ante up to participate in God’s social media investment vehicle. The second set of figures is what the founder of Bebo sold his company for in 2008, and the amount of money that was paid for it by a venture capitalist in June last year.

Now Bebo, according to Google Trends (March 2010), had around 1.5m unique visitors. Facebook, according to the same Google Trends in the same period, had roughly 210m. At which point, if Bebo is to be valued at $10m (or less), then Facebook would have been worth a maximum $1.5bn. And now it’s worth $50bn.

Absolutely amazing growth. If only one could invest in it. But – hold on – now you can! And all thanks to those super and – by common acknowledgement of the very clever people on Wall Street – very clever people at Goldman Sachs. Fact is, of course, through the miracle of trading stuff of which I wot not, that one has been able to trade in social media ‘shares’ for some time – an option that will no longer be available to one if one throws one’s lot in with God. Along with the option of pulling one’s money out if it all goes tits up before 2013.

So, what is wrong with this picture, people? OK, I know you’re all embarrassed to put your hand up in front of so many people, so I’ll tell you. 

  • Facebook is not worth $50bn. It isn’t. End of. ( In the same way that tulip bulbs were never worth 50 gold coins, Skype and Friends Reunited were never worth billions and millions respectively and a one-bedroom flat overlooking Dublin’s M50 was never worth half a million euro)
  • Goldman Sachs are obviously angling for the right to handle the flotation of Facebook and the fees that would accrue from said flotation
  • The Busy Bees of God have shaped an investment vehicle that may well carry a bunch of high net worth individuals to their doom. As it crashes on the rocks of fiscal prudence, they will look to God’s Worker who should be in the driving seat. He (or indeed she) will probably, and conveniently, be somewhere else
  • Fabrice Tourre, Abacus 2007-AC1. ‘Nuff said

I think it is highly likely that Les Travailleurs de Dieu will get this one away. I think it is highly likely that many many investors will put their money into the phenomenon that is social. I think it highly likely that this headlong rush to make money out of the shiny thing will contage (hey, looky here! I made up a new word) and social media that exist on the very boundaries of understanding will become enormously valuable and a new generation of uber-geeks will become – if they sell at the right time – hideously wealthy. I think it highly likely that, despute the recent opportunity to learn from our mistakes, another bubble will expand and burst, leaving far more losers than winners. God – through his Workers – will be, most likely, a winner.

As someone who has some knowledge of these things said to me: “if they float, short them. Short the shit out of them.” Sounds sensible to me.

Anyway – as evidence that you can always find someone to support any argument – here’s a piece that’s probably more rational than my post. Enjoy!

Social Media In The Workplace – Medieval Thinking

Morning snorkellers.

Yesterday, you may recall, I stuck up a much-viewed and widely-discussed (I am almost certain that it probably was) post – Social Media In The Workplace – The Debate Rageth On – in which I set out my (by now pretty ragged from overuse) stall of arguments as to why allowing employees access to social media during working hours is not, on the whole, a Good Thing.

This was in response to a post on stopblocking.org (do the clickety-doo here) which – unfortunately – I found (and still find) a little too glib and easy for my taste. Anyway, long story short – as I guess was to be expected – the author of the post (one Shel Holtz) has reacted in kind (see, here!) in which he has, quite kindly, actually, put me straight on a number of my points. Again, right-thinking blog snorkellers mine, you may wish to don the mental equivalent of a welding mask before viewing his (lengthy) sounding off, but it does highlight at least one thing. You’re social, or you’re not. The whole debate over its usefulness has become so widespread and heated that there is no choice but to choose sides. Choose wisely, young padawan.

Anyway, Shel also had a bit of a twat about my post. He described it as thinking from the medieval era. Which, in turn, got me thinking. Would it not be fair to say that today’s many-too-many of social media strategists and specialists and gurus and advisers are, in reality, little different from the mendicant monks that would trudge the filthy by-ways and low roads of the 16th century, looking for the gullible and lazy, to whom to sell their fake and worthless relics? ‘Look here, lumpen peasant with your interesting diseases, shiny thing make it all better.’ ‘Be certain of your passage to heaven with this splinter from the one, true media – sorry – cross!’

Wasn’t that time one of mountebanks and charlatans, dissimulation and deceit? Rather than being medieval myself, I rather think I’m trying to prevent those who wish to get all medieval on our asses.

Blogger, blogger, blogger…..

‘Despite the fact blogs (sic) no longer have a lot of social media sex appeal’ – no, not my words, but the first line of this tremendously fine post about blogging in a corporate context.

Yes, you should be blogging, for all the reasons set out here. No, I am not going to paraphrase it for you, you lazy bunch of blog snorkelling butterflies, do the hot clickety and read it for yourself.

All I would add is that to be truly effective, you’ve got to get the tone of voice right and be consistent. This means that you cannot let anyone in your organisation blog on your behalf without due process, monitoring, control and boiling in oil of transgressors. Sorry, but that’s the way it is if you are to avoid the one-way street to the village of Serious Cock-Up on Thames.

I am sure, as promised in the post, the next blog (post) (which will ‘address some of the key ingredients for a successful company blog’ ) will cover all this obvious stuff.

Snakes and Ladders

Hey, blog snorkellers – whassup?

Just a quick one – yesterday’s rant about a certain global PR concern and its lack of control over its own blog (social media + no control = the chocolate cupcake of cock-up) – well, two things.

First – they’ve not taken the offending post down. They must have seen me linking to it, they probably read my comments – a bit of action here, people, please. Actually – bugger off – don’t take it down, it wasn’t a bad post. Just edit bits of it. And you know which bits I mean. Go on – do it now.

Second – a further post on the same blog. Now this is genuine genius. Brilliant. Honestly.

Tell me – would it be too difficult to hook up Author 1 with Author 2? My feeling is that everyone would benefit.

Googly I

 Been a while, blog snorkellers mine, been a while.

Frankly, this blog has turned into my foamy-mouthed rantings about the eville that is social media and, d’you know what, it’s becoming difficult to find anything new to write.

Why? Because I’m not a geeky techy, I’m a communicator. I do not hang around in the kitchen of the internet’s big social media party, discussing the tiny changes that social media keep making to themselves, nor the wholly spurious increases in fans and clicks, nor the fact that 52.673% of businesses run by hippies believe that social media will, eventually, replace God.

And unless you choose to rummage through this morass of soiled underwear, you have to accept the truth that nothing has actually changed in the year or so that I’ve been gracing the web with my musings. The evangelists are still evangelising, the fools are still fooling around, the inappropriateness is still inappropriate, the naysayers are still naysaying – but nothing has actually changed.

Social media are still what they are – and the communications and marketing community are still trying to work out how to leverage them. Anyway, today I come across this – which is a post from the Digital Brand Expressions Blog (thank you) musing on the possibility that Google may be planning to have another foray into the social media space with something that may, or may not, be called ‘Google Me’. Obviously, I think they’ve missed a trick here – ‘Googly I’ would be so much better, or Google U, which could then become Googlez Vous in French and Et Tu Google for the small Swiss community that still insists on speaking Latin.

Anyway (again), just a couple of thoughts on the back of this article:

1) It’s probably too late for choice. You’re either on Facebook, or you’re not. And if you are – well, you are (obviously) and if you’re not, I think it’s unlikely that you’ll suddenly throw your privacy away and embrace the sharing of drunken photographs simply because that nice Mr Google has provided a new medium for you to use.

2) If Facebook was going to launch a search engine, it would have done it by now. Let’s face it, a share of Google’s $23bn annual profit (revenue? not sure) is not to be sneered at. I can only think that either they can’t, or that they’ve decided it’s not worth the effort. And, simply because Facebook doesn’t make any money currently, I’m forced to believe that they haven’t the capability to create an algorithm that would approximate Google’s. (If indeed algorithm is the right expression for the magic mushroom of code that allows Google to hallucinate all the stuff that people want to view.)

So. I’d hazard that Google won’t be able to invade Facebook’s space and vice-versa. So, once again, nothing has changed.

See you in another couple of months – supposing anything actually moves on.

Kirk out.

Brand Standards? Be Tolerant Of Social Media

A word of warning. I’m posting this link in the spirit of acknowledging my sources and admitting that I have plagiarised content, rather than letting you, faithful blog snorkellers mine, believe that it’s all a product of my fevered imagination – however, for once, I strongly advise that you do NOT click on it. (Not that there was ever much chance, you lazy bunch of surfers, but just in case.) If you do click on it, you will find yourself transported to the homepage of Digital Transactions magazine, a wilderness in which your horrified screams will never, ever be heard.

Suffice it to say, it’s a publication that services the needs of the digital transactor, those involved in online payments – banks and so forth. And it is a sign of the malign growth of the social media cancer that even this benighted outpost on the media frontier has been tainted by it. Here’s a quotation:

“Banks and others scratching their heads over the exploding popularity of social networking and its close cousin, social gaming, can harness the online phenomenon for payments but will likely have to jettison decades of settled thinking, experts say.”

I know – sounds like the sort of thinking that was doing the rounds 18 months ago – but it was published yesterday. Welcome to today’s horrifying reality, banks and others!

Anyway, I didn’t come here to poke fun at the financial services industry, easy though that would be. No I come here to highlight an opinion provided in this piece which, for me, sums up the insanity and inanity of the whole social media thing and how it is supposed to work (to our benefit, apparently). Have a read:

“For example, people who use social media are accustomed to changing things on the sites in ways that suit them individually – and that can include corporate designs, said George Warfel at Fiserv Inc. He advised banks to be tolerant of this, even if it horrifies marketing officers. ‘Let people on MySpace change the color of your logo,’ he advised. ‘That’s not vandalism. It’s customer acceptance.”

What George is blithely advocating is ceding control of your brand identity to any Tim, Darko or Barry who wants to appropriate it for his or her own ends. Apparently customers will be more accepting of your expensive, hard-won identity if they are free to do what they like with it. Who knows, maybe they won’t just stop at changing the colour. Maybe they’ll include a couple of rude words and a lewd illustration and then post it on a Facebook page entitled “(your name here) Sucks!” Or maybe they’ll just change the colour of your logo, print it out and stick it on a counterfeit product.

This is, and remains, the problem with social media. From a commercial point of view, it cannot provide the reassurance and control that is necessary to make it a valid comms, marketing or sales tool.

And as for the bankers – well, I sincerely hope their attitude to looking after my money is slightly less laissez-faire than their attitude to their own brand identity.

Embrace Social Media Or Die!

Well, that’s the only conclusion I can draw from this set of statistics collated and published on socialnomics.net by Erik Qualman, an evangelist.

I cannot argue with them or dispute them. They seem to come from a variety of reliable sources. The only conclusion I can draw is that the world and the bulk of people in it live for their social media. When social media becomes more popular than porn (which, as any fule kno, is what the interweb was invented for), then you know that momentum has grown into an unstoppable tsunami of Big Conversation.

And yet. I STILL don’t know of any company that’s making money through social media marketing. Mr Qualman includes this point – “the ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years” – which sounds like a bit of a bullying threat to me. Try telling that to Rolls-Royce, Marks & Spencer, Garrards and Cheney the Bootmaker. I’m in no way involved in the social media ‘phenomenon’, yet somehow I still seem to be able to function perfectly well in today’s society. Apparently products and services and news are now going to find me – well, if it’s OK with them, I’ll stick with the old way of doing things and choose which ones I want, in my own time, on my own terms.

Finally, apparently, if Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest, after China and India.

Better than that, I wouldn’t have to live there. Or even visit. And I would no longer have to put up with the endless wittering about social media being my future.

How good would that be?