Many friends, associates, and clients have worried about how to participate in the social media space, from a branding and marketing perspective. The dizzying plethora of social networks, platforms, tools, and apps is enough to send even the toughest brand advocate whimpering in to a comfortably dark corner! the opportunities are thrilling, though, and I have enjoyed helping my friends explore the possibilities that await our brands in what I call the “New Open Market”.
Global enterprise social media manager, b2b marketer, and blogger Mia Dand recently has written a posting that I think is worth sharing, rather than my writing something that might duplicate much of what she has already said (and, as you know, I find it’s always more fun to have multiple voices in the conversation!). If some of her points seem obvious, you’re obviously heading in the right direction! They bear revisiting, however, as some of the foundation stones upon which you begin to evaluate your foray in to the New Open Market, wherein your customer /client no longer awaits your next offering, but may even be going so far as to insist on being involved in its conceptualization, development, deployment, and refinement!:
Lately, there has been a flurry of discussions and questions on scaling social media so here’s my take on a key question that seems to be on many minds.
Question: How do I set up a social media department for my company and what is the typical org structure (with roles & responsibilities)?
Let me start off by saying, there is no typical organization structure for a social media team or department, since companies set up their internal org structure based on business needs. Ideally, you want to plan out and budget for resources in advance so you’re not struggling to scale your social media activities. However, the reality at many medium to large-size companies is that social media is often initiated within one specific functional group like customer service or PR and the resources are not fully dedicated to social media but over time, these are shifted over from traditional investments and/or added as needed.
If your management is serious about allocating resources for a dedicated social media team, that’s great news! There are agencies who can audit your organization structure to help assess your social media resource needs. But if you’re working on a tight budget (as most of us are), no worries, here are 4 simple steps to get you off to a decent start.
#1 Define your new team/department’s objective and scope:
Social media has implications for a wide variety of functional areas from marketing to customer support, and even HR. So start by defining your team’s role along with a clear statement of the team’s objective. Simply put, define your team’s reason for existence and what specific business need it will solve. The scope does largely depend on whether your team is aligned to any specific functional group like marketing or the team is going to structured as a centralized pool of resources that supports the entire organization.
List all the groups/departments that your team will support and level of support you’ll provide them. Remember that the way each functional group uses social media is different so take these differences into account while developing your overall plan. For example: The CS team will use social media differently than the PR team, so make sure you don’t underestimate the resources needed to support these different needs.
#2 Pull together a plan of deliverables and resource needs:
Clearly outline this new team’s responsibilities and deliverables in as much detail as possible. List specific deliverables, frequency. and timelines where ever possible. this is critical because this will help you define how many resources you’ll need to deliver on what you’ve promised. Also bear in mind that while people resources are key for any social media team, but don’t forget to include dollar resources as well for expenses related to resources, tools or external agency resources. One good way to create your estimated budget is to check with your HR, social media agencies, and contracting agencies since they can help you estimate the cost for your resource plan.
#3 Determine team roles & responsibilities:
Once you’ve defined your deliverables, then the next step is put together your potential org chart where the roles are determined by what type of skill set you will need to deliver on your plan. For example: If your plan is to deliver 6 social media training sessions on a weekly basis to all the functional groups, then you will need a) content (develop in-house or externally), b) media for delivery and recording of the sessions and c) someone qualified to lead the sessions. Based on the plan, some typical roles on your team would be social media trainer/s and training/educational content producers. Having clearly defined roles will help you hire talented folks with the right social media skill set rather than generalists aka social media “experts”.
#4 Define your KPIs:
This part is often overlooked but is very critical to the continue success of your team. It’s fair to assume that you may not get all the resources that you ask for and that the need for resources will only grow along with increase in social media adoption. So make sure you’ve defined your success metrics and planned for future growth by including clear milestones. These will help you prove the value of this new team and help you make the case for more resources as needed.
To read Mia’s other commentaries, please visit her blog.
Last week’s LA Street Summit was both inspiring and frustrating.
It was great to see over 500 people in attendance at this free one-day workshop and networking session – nearly double the number from last year. It was wonderful to observe several corporate leaders and sponsors making their presence known, and it was great to see so many people committed to the idea of livable urban centers, in a community that has long enslaved itself to the automotive culture. The workshops I attended were informative and energetic, and I look forward to this event expanding its reach, if only to “keep the dream alive”.
My frustration stems from an observation that our communities are long on energy and “foot soldier commitment”, but short on policy-making leadership. The difference -at least with respect to the issue of implementing complete streets and sustainability initiatives – between Southern California and New York (from whence guest speaker Janette Sadik-Khan hails) is largely in how government and businesses function, relative to their populace.
Mayor Bloomberg runs the City of New York, and – but for the possibility of bureaucratic opposition from his own lieutenants (and the inevitability of fiscal cuts), he is largely able to manifest his vision of a more sustainable urban metropolis. This is in no small part due to the intelligence, passion, charm, and drive of his Transportation Commissioner, Ms. Sadik-Khan. What she has accomplished, over the course of the past 3 years, is a success story likely to propel her into President Obama’s cabinet, or at least in to the history books, as an example of policy-making leadership, urban vision, and community spirit. It is also due to the fact that businesses in Manhattan welcome the idea (albeit sometimes begrudgingly) of making more navigable and accessible the 60% of the city’s real estate that comprises the streets and open spaces. If people can get around more easily, they’ll hang around for longer, they’ll wander around more agreeably and, as statistics are already showing, retail sales will go up, rentals will rise, and home sales will skyrocket. No need to even mention the more obvious social, environmental, and medical benefits.
Meanwhile, back in SoCal, or LA County to be specific (since the OC has made quite a good start, I must admit), policy-making leadership and visionary municipal governance are apparently as welcome in the council chambers of Burbank, Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles (among others) as Universal Health Care Legislation is at a Tea Party Rally. The various municipal councils seem utterly incapable of committing to any endeavor that does not have granular buy-in from 95% of their constituency. They (council members) argue that their role is to represent the people, but I offer the counter-argument that sometimes we, the people, are not in the best position to make and manifest policy. Democracy gives us the right to elect those whose beliefs most closely resemble our own, and to neglect those who do not aspire, or have failed, to deliver on promises which we hold dear. Great change rarely is manifest by a committee, and meanwhile, our streets become gridlocked, our air thickens with smog, our children grow obese, and we increasingly sequester ourselves in our hermetically sealed homes, with our 3 cars sitting in the driveway, and the light from 5 TVs permeating each household.
Yet, we are still far enough from the point of despair suggested by some of my above comments that we – business leaders, political activists, residents, taxpayers, et al – have a great chance to do our part, if we are not doing it already.
If you own a business, have you ensured that it welcomes and supports your employee and customer/client efforts to walk/bike/bus/metro to and from your location? We should focus a little less on building massive parking lots above and beneath our offices, and behind our stores and restaurants. If city ordinances demand it, we must campaign for alternatives. Instead of 3 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet, why not 2 spaces and 12 bicycle stands? Better yet, why not measure and manage community parking spaces from a truly communal perspective. Perhaps metrics should be managed on a neighborhood basis, and not “per-business”…
If you work with, in, on, or within spitting distance of municipal government (especially if you are an engineer), rediscover the joy of innovation! Stop MANAGING the problem of urban sprawl, gridlock, and parking, and start SOLVING it. Putting a lid on a boiling pot of water, does not cool the water, it merely delays, and eventually renders explosive, the challenge.
If you live, work, or play in an urban locale, make 2010 the year when you will (a) ask your employer about alternative transportation options, or offer your employees incentives to explore said alternatives; (b) explore your city’s rail, bus, and pedestrian networks (make it a family adventure!); and (c) challenge your municipal leadership to demonstrate the type of vision and commitment that was so warmly shown at last weekend’s Street Summit.
It needn’t happen overnight. Baby steps. One step at a time. One cycle at a time…but let’s keep moving:
(Links courtesy of lastreetsummit.org):
LA StreetSummit 2010: Building Momentum for Change (Streetsfilms)
This post offers my thoughts on the “reporting of the report” and the changing media landscape.
It remains popular within the mainstream media to dismiss the blogging community as mostly commentators rather than reporters. What’s more, according to the MSM types, most of the fodder for the blogosphere’s ruminations comes from reporting in the mainstream media.
The clear implication is that without the mainstream media to painstakingly investigate, write, edit and publish the news in the first place, the blogosphere would be reduced to self-indulgent opinionating and bloviating, like, for example the content you’d expect to find on MySpace.
Even worse, according to the extreme form of the argument, the lack of professional standards and good editing in the blogosphere can lead to reckless “reporting” with potentially costly consequences.
So I was puzzled last weekend when the NYT’s editorial page asserted that Lehman Brothers, in the last quarters prior to its September 2008 bankruptcy filing, engaged in repo transactions that removed “troubled assets” from its balance sheet.
My surprise arose not from Lehman’s conduct (although the Times professed to being “dumbstruck” and “blindsided”) but from the fact that I quite specifically recalled the report, right on page 796 saying:
…the vast majority of securities Lehman utilized in Repo 105 transactions were investment grade, with all but a few of the securities falling within the A to AAA range.
Curious how the Times editors were so perfectly misled on this point, I went back to the paper’s original story on the Lehman report, only to find the following correction.
Correction: March 13, 2010
An article on Friday about an examiner’s report detailing accounting maneuvers used by Lehman Brothers to conceal its perilous finances described incorrectly in some editions the assets that were temporarily shuffled off its books. They were mostly high-quality securities that could be easily accepted by other banks, according to the examiner’s report; they were not “troubled” and “mostly illiquid real estate holdings…”
So here we have a Times story, written under deadline, that gets a key fact exactly wrong, followed by a correction. Okay, stuff happens. But what must be especially embarassing to the Times is that the newsroom appears to have noticed and corrected its error before the editorial page went to bed with the wrong fact 24 hours later… kinda like a blogger spouting off his opinion about something he read online, without checking the veracity of the story.
Even worse, a full week later the New York Post, which apparently gets its facts from old copies of the Times, publishes this:
Among Valukas’ findings is that Lehman used an esoteric accounting practice known as ‘Repo 105,’ which allowed the firm to move toxic mortgage assets off its books in order to make it seem healthier.
Don’t these guys have time to read the financial blogs?
When it comes to reporting complex subjects, the mainstream media’s conventions may leave it competitively disadvantaged versus the blogosphere. The “inverted pyramid” approach to a traditional news article gives short shrift to second- and third-level details (which may be summarily discarded if the ‘news hole’ is too small).
The desire to present both sides of the story “objectively” requires time-consuming phone and email contacts for “On the one hand… on the other hand…” quotes from expert sources who may possess less knowledge about fast-breaking news than the reporter himself. And for print journalists, the need for a “static” version of a story to meet the circadian publishing cycle creates constraints that a living story on a blog doesn’t face.
Michael Kinsley has written and Kara Swisher has spoken (a little past the 10:00 minute mark) far more eloquently about this issue, so I’ll refer you to them.
Not so long ago, a “Report of the Examiner in the Chapter 11 proceedings of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc” would have been released in a small press conference in New York City, where a smattering of lawyers and business journalists would lug their 2200-page copies back to the office to research potential lawsuits or the news angle. But the public at large would not have had convenient access to the source materials until they arrived at the local library, if at all. So journalists of yesteryear enjoyed quasi-monopolistic access to much of the source material for the important stories of the day.
A recent Pew Research Center study of news dissemination in Baltimore found that 63% of news stories originated with government entities. News organizations originated 14% and the remainder were largely from interest groups. This suggests that 86% of the “news” is originated (that is to say, “published”) by government and private non-journalistic organizations. Increasingly, these stories are being published online, where they’re immediately available to all interested readers. And for a story of any complexity, the party most qualified to comment may be some guy (a former Lehman repo trader, perhaps) posting in his pajamas from his basement office.
If you’ve read this far, you deserve a reward, so I’ll give the last word on the subject to the writing team on NBC’s hit comedy,”30 Rock,” who nail the topic with the brutally efficient satire. Currently available on Hulu (4:30 into the show).
In the scene, Avery Jessup a fictional, on-air reporter for CNBC (played by the adorable Elizabeth Banks) calls her lover, Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Baldwin) a senior executive at NBC, about a rumored takeover of NBC.
Phone rings in Donaghy’s office.
Jack Donaghy: “Hello?”
Avery Jessup: “Answering your own phone on the first ring… All hands on deck over there, huh?”
Jack Donaghy: “Whaddya mean?”
Avery Jessup: “C’mon the NBC buyout… what’s happening today?”
Jack Donaghy: (Increduously) “I’m sorry… you’re calling me as a source? How are you going to explain your unnamed executive to your producer.”
Avery Jessup: “I’ll tell him it’s a guy I’m having sex with. It’s a 24-hour news cycle here, Jack. We really don’t have time to do right any more.”
I’ve often written about my belief that the past couple of years of interactive invention and implementation has left us with a compelling, dynamic, yet very messy morass of offerings – be it in the realms of SaaS, Apps, Social Media platforms and services, or otherwise. My recent comments in The Global Human Capital Journal underline this perspective, most especially when I stated ”…2009 was the year of acquisition of market share, and I want to see 2010 become the year of refinement and quality of service. Many ventures will focus on quality, and those that do not will be left in the dust by consumers no longer willing to put up with anything but the highest levels of product and solution service…”.
From a B2C point of view, the diversity of Must Have indulgences has become dizzying, and this is without even considering the overwhelming deployment of updates that each of these applications rolls out. I sense that the consumer has reached a point of saturation, and whichever company identifies and implements the first aggregation and simplification of social media tool-sets will gain the type of foothold that secures fortunes for decades (the equivalent of 20th Century millennia).
Recent announcements by MySpace are further cementing my convictions. The company is scrambling to maintain (or is it “return to”?) relevance, and operating under the mistaken belief that activity will keep it afloat, regardless of the longer term value of that activity.
Putting band-aids on a life-threatening wound is just as bad as “moving deck chairs on the Titanic”…and to stretch the cliched metaphor even further, I posit that sometimes a body adrift in the ocean would do better lying on its back and preserving energy while it orients itself, instead of maniacally treading water…
MySpace has spent the past couple of years seriously fumbling, for a variety of reasons. It needs to accept that its emotional stock valuation (its appeal with the user-base) is at rock bottom and, consequently, give itself the time to reorient its long term strategy, based on solid data (as opposed to hurried reactions to the latest perceived threats). If there is one thing its association with NewsCorp should provide, it is leeway. The MySpace brand will not suffer any more than it already has, if it slows down its profile.
NewsCorp should give MySpace 6 months to develop and present a coherent long term business strategy which, once approved, should deploy a clear and actionable short term strategy (another 6 months at least), including marketing, rebranding (if deemed necessary), infrastructural reorganization, technology innovation and differentiation (what can MySpace offer that everyone using FB grumbles about? How can MySpace take advantage of this point in Social Media evolution to propel itself once more in to a lead position? – might I suggest aggregation/amalgamation of services and escalation of ease-of-use? The First 200M FB users were adopters accustomed to extrapolating the value of a new emerging technology. The next 100M are struggling with the value, but committed to “making it work” for them, and the last 100M are having a REALLY tough time understanding how FB should be used in their daily lives. Just ask your parents! ).
Enough of this revolving door management theatrics. Sign some long term (5 year) contracts with some serious talent. Every action is either strengthening or diluting the brand. The former only happens after a period of instability, the latter can happen immediately. If Murdoch can implement 10-year plans for his company, why not MySpace? Only long term strategic redevelopment can save this brand. The next year is going to be very tough, and if management focuses primarily on the short term, it will fail. Whether NewsCorp has the patience to accept long term strategy is a whole other story…
For more than a decade, I’ve been involved with the Digital Content Lab at the American Film Institute, as both an advisor and supporter. The DCL, as it came to be known, was where Apple‘s Quicktime technology was launched, among other technologically important milestones. A recent winner of the Technical Achievement Award at the Machinima festival, the DCL was responsible for the deployment of such groundbreaking tech as the mobile interactive apps for WARPED, the Planet Illogica digital artist support network, and the development of the Federally supported ITVS initiative (funding a wide swath of indie films), among others.
This has been a relatively discreet enterprise, known and loved by all of us in the digital media and entertainment industries, but not much of a self-promoting organization, at least when compared to many other non-profits in the entertainment and media industries. This seems, ultimately, to have been to the organization’s disadvantage, as the AFI DCL will apparently be closing its doors shortly, to ostensibly go in to “hiatus” – a direct result of funding shortfalls.
I won’t digress too much into the whys and wherefores of this situation, only to suggest that – like many non-profits today – I suspect that the AFI Board kept focusing too much on large sponsors, and too little on grassroots individual donor channels. The game of fundraising has changed, but for some reason many of the players are still way behind the ball…Social network fundraising demands a commitment, and I wonder whether that commitment was made in support of staff efforts to adopt new models for revenue generation…
When I think of the extraordinary influence that the DCL has had over our industry’s technological advancements, I wonder whether such undeniably admirable enterprises as the ETC or IPG Emerging Media Lab will be able to step in to the breach left by the DCL. These other organizations, impressive as they are in their respect, carry with them their own agenda that inevitably color the value of their offerings. Even though the DCL presented one or two projects of less than astonishing creative, business, or technical merit, the lab’s overall output was nothing short of groundbreaking, game changing, paradigm shifting, and ultimately socially impactful. Under the guidance of Nick De Martino, Anna Marie Piersimoni, Marcia Zellers and, most recently, Suzanne Stefanac, the AFI DCL has left an indelible mark on multiplatform landscapes of entertainment and media production and content delivery.
Those of us who have had the pleasure of attending DigiFest, The Digital Content Festival, the Enhanced TV Workshop, or other DCL gatherings, retain fond memories of all that has been accomplished there (If you would like to share some of your memories, feel free to leave your thoughts on their Facebook Page, at “The AFI Digital Content Lab”).
For a fully interactive roster of the AFI Digital Content Lab’s projects over the years, click here
Sources say that there still remain efforts to keep the Institute’s annual DigiFest event afloat. In the meantime, expect an official announcement about the Lab in the next few weeks. Who knows, perhaps this article and others will encourage people to step in and save the day..? Stranger things are happening.
—UPDATE—2:00pm, Friday, March 11—
Here is a partial list of AFI DCL projects, since 1999:
• ACADEMY AWARDS (Telecast)
• EDDIE FILES (PBS)
• EXPEDITION 360 (Discovery Europe)
• FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM: THE HISTORY OF IRISH ROCK (A&E)
• LIQUID STAGE: THE LURE OF SURFING (PBS)
• News Center 4 NIGHTBEAT (KRON-TV)
• SPACE STATION ODYSSEY (Discovery Networks)
• TALK SOUP (E! Entertainment)
• AMERICAN FAMILY (PBS)
• BLIND DATE (Universal Worldwide Television)
• DAY ONE (Granada Television, Granada Entertainment)
• EXTREME RIDES (Discovery Channel, Discovery Channel)
• MUSIC FROM THE INSIDE OUT (PBS)
• PERFECT CRIME (Wegelius Television [Denmark])
• ROMAN EMPIRE (PBS)
• THIS FAR BY FAITH (PBS)
• ACCORDION DREAMS (PBS)
• ARLI$$ (HBO)
• CALLAWAY GOLF, RULE 35 (Syndicated)
• CNN HEADLINE NEWS (Turner Broadcasting System Inc)
• THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART (Comedy Central)
• THE EUKANUBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS (Animal Planet)
• THE NEW AMERICANS (PBS)
• PEOPLE LIKE US: SOCIAL CLASS IN AMERICA (PBS)
• AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD (USA Network)
• ARTHUR (PBS)
• I LOVE LUCY (TV Land)
• MATTERS OF RACE (PBS)
• P.O.V. (PBS)
• SESAME STREET (PBS & Noggin)
• THE BEST OF (The Food Network)
• TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES (Turner Broadcasting System)
• BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (SciFi Channel/Vivendi Universal Games)
• BLOOMBERG TELEVISION (syndicated)
• CELEBRITY MOLE II (ABC Television Network)
• IMX – INTERACTIVE MUSIC EXCHANGE (FUSE Networks)
• INDEPENDENT LENS (PBS)
• KCET/KQED ON-AIR FUNDRAISING (PBS)
• KIM POSSIBLE (Disney Channel)
• WASHINGTON REDSKINS GAME DAY (FOX 5 [WTTG]
• AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: CASTRO’S CUBA (WGBH/PBS)
• DINOSAUR HIGHWAY (The Science Channel)
• DORA THE EXPLORER (Nickelodeon)
• LIVING FOR THE WEEKEND (Scripps Networks)
• THE L WORD (Showtime)
• HIJACK (MTV Networks)
• QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY (Bravo)
• TV411 (The Adult Literacy Media Alliance/PBS)
• DoD PERSONALS (Simmons Lathan Media Group)
• CONSIDER THIS… (LACMA)
• HISTORY DETECTIVES ROAD TRIP (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
• MOMENT IN TIME: WWII (A&E/History Channel)
• MTV NEWS ON OVERDRIVE (MTV)
• MYSTERY ONLINE THEATRE (Telemundo)
• NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL 2 (National Geographic)
• REUTERS ONE (Reuters)
• TOYO (Zodiac Gaming)
• WORLD WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT (WWE)
• AIM SHOW PRODUCER (AOL)
• LAW & ORDER: MOTIVE. MEANS. OPPORTUNITY (NBC Universal)
• BEN 10 MEGASERIES (Cartoon Network)
• E2: GREEN MAP FOR LIVING (kontentreal)
• BUZZ (Cynergy Films)
• MC EVERYWHERE (Music Choice)
• SíTV Pure (SíTV)
• UNLOCKING MOVIE ASSETS (CASABLANCA) (AFI/Georgia Tech)
• XXXL (Hit Start)
• BRAVO DVR AD PLAY (Bravo)
• CITIZEN NOW (NOW on PBS)
• LEAVING THE GAME (Method, Inc.)
• FILMOCRACY (ITVS)
• PLAYERS (MTV, EA, Mekanism)
• VIEWING PARTY (ABC)
• WARPED ROADIE (EarthEcho International)
• HOOKING UP (HBO)
• PLANET ILLOGICA ARTIST IN RESIDENCE PROGRAM (Planet Illogica)
In an article that I wrote last month for Global Human Capital Magazine, I stated that “2009 was the year of acquisition of market share, and I want to see 2010 become the year of refinement and quality of service.”
What I meant by this was that businesses and consumers had been inundated with new tools, devices, platforms, channels and applications. This past year has seen many of us scrambling on an almost weekly basis to qualify the value of each and every hot new social media application (while others among us simply gave up and found that life still carried on!). Elsewhere (though not so far removed), the battle continues to rage between Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome et al.
Businesses have, for the most part, fully recognized the need to reinvent their commitment to marketing and positioning, but their understanding of how to manifest that reinvention is still very primitive, for the most part.
It requires an immense time commitment, for example, to grasp the nuances and undulations of the social media landscape. Only an insomniac or unemployed web addict would presently have the time to exercise the granular approach needed to explore all the various social media offerings, to the degree necessary to be able to offer the kind of counsel that would represent any real value to most businesses.
So, it is more than compelling to learn that one of the technological innovations (among the many) presenting itself right now promises to offer us a way of parsing all the possibilities out there, and absorbing their potential and nature, without necessarily having to fully digest their often complex ingredients. It brings a whole new meaning to the words “search” and “browsing”, and promises to truly deliver on my aforementioned hope that “…2010 become(s) the year of refinement and quality of service.”
…and it comes from Microsoft!
Imagine 2.3 million Wikipedia articles automatically indexed in a graphically appealing manner, and collected in new and thrilling ways…
…All the Kiva loans in the world, sorted in whatever way you can imagine…
…every research paper ever written, re-ordered into a 3D Venn diagram of astonishing proportions…
… operational efficiency data collected by geography, chronology, age, gender, location, function, etc…
How might your business benefit from this sort of contextual refinement?
Think of the Risk Management potential; data management; research aggregation; client/vendor/partner behavior patterns…
Former equity analyst, domain name broker, and social networking early adopter Lou Kerner shares here his (and his co-author, Eli Halliwell’s) research in to the true market value of Facebook:
Current trading price in private market: $38 Target price: $100
Facebook is the most powerful website the world has known : With over 400 million reported users spending an average of 55 minutes per day on its site, Facebook is the most ubiquitous and transformative media company on the planet poised to create tremendous shareholder value as it begins to monetize its vast audience. Facebook already has ¾ the reach of Google and three times the average time spend per user, yielding Facebook double Google’s aggregate global time spent; and Facebook is on a dramatically steeper growth curve, growing its reach by 150%+ in 2009 vs. 40% growth for Google.
Facebook already drives more traffic to the leading portals than Google: While Google has long been the major driver of traffic to the majority of websites in the world, “friendcasting” on Facebook (when a friend uploads a link to content and someone clicks on it) is already a larger driver of traffic to sites like Yahoo and MSN than Google, according to Compete.com. If Facebook successfully leverages its new relationship with Microsoft’s Bing, implements more social search tools, grows its fan pages, and enables the continued natural growth of “friendcasting”, Facebook should surpass Google as the largest driver of traffic globally later this year.
Facebook is tracking to be a $100B company: Google has demonstrated how to monetize the time and data users give to the site daily. Facebook’s potential to monetize both time spent and data shared may be even greater than Google as it generates more time and significantly greater data on its users. Facebook also benefits from a network effect that doesn’t exist at Google. Each incremental user adds geometric value to the network. As Facebook achieves its goal of building the dominant global networked communications platform, it will begin to leverage its reach and earn its share of global advertising, ecommerce and payment revenues, possibly rivaling Google’s earnings potential. We estimate that Facebook will be worth more than $100 billion by 2015 using the same multiples on Facebook’s forecast 2015 EBITDA as Google is valued at today. More aggressive (but still reasonable) multiples and growth rates would yield values rivaling Google’s market cap of $140+ billion, ex cash.
Facebook is worth $50B today: If Facebook is worth $100 billion in 2015, discounting that valuation back to today with a 15% discount rate, gives the company a current value of ~$50 billion. Regardless of the discount rate you use, Facebook offers a very compelling investment opportunity at current prices.
Facebook is privately traded at 60%+ discount to its current value: Most investors don’t know you can buy Facebook shares today, pre-IPO. While the market for Facebook shares is not robust, there were millions of shares traded last year through private marketplace websites like Second Market.com, SharePost.com and others. Only accredited investors are allowed to participate. Currently, ask prices are about $38/share, implying a market cap for Facebook of ~$19 billion. Relative to the $50 billion fair market value we see in the company, this represents a 60%+ liquidity discount.
Facebook only has to earn $7 per user in EBITDA to justify our valuation: Dividing our $50B target by Google’s current trading multiple of 18X EBITDA implies that Facebook currently has earnings power of $2.8B in EBITDA. Dividing the $2.8B by the current base of 400 million users implies $7 of EBITDA per Facebook user. Facebook will have far more than 400 million users in 2015, so this is a conservative estimate. Even at $7/user, our projection is that Facebook would earn significantly less per user than other major internet companies. Amazon earns $15/user; Google earns $20/user; and eBay earns $34/user. While each of these companies operates with different business models, they all rely on aggregating huge volumes of users to create value for their investors. Facebook will earn ad revenue like Google, commissions on transactions like Amazon and eBay, and fees on payment processing like eBay. In presenting this metric we are demonstrating that even if Facebook’s earnings power is significantly less per user than other major internet players, it would still command a $100B market cap.
Quick Facts (according to Facebook , Alexa.com and Compete.com):
#2 website globally in total page views behind Google; should pass Google in first half of 2010.
At 30%, Facebook has the same global reach that Google had 1 year ago.
Both Google and Facebook should have global reach of ~50% by end of 2010.
2 years ago Facebook’s global reach was just 6%.
Internet users spend 3x as much time on a Facebook page as they spend on a Google page.
Over 700mm pieces of content are uploaded on Facebook daily (eg. 100mm photos daily).
Average user spends 55 minutes/day (~23% of total time online) on Facebook, 50% of users log on daily.
67% of US online users are on Facebook.
~70% of Facebook users live outside the US.
Among top 36 countries: Facebook’s page view rank is #1 in 4 countries; #2 in 23 countries; #3 in 9 countries.
Facebook just received approval for patenting its news feed, the core functionality of its website.
Facebook is already the world’s dominant website
However you measure it, Facebook’s global scale and growth are astounding. Of its reported 400+ million users, ~120 million are in the US.That’s 120 million out of ~180 million US internet users (according to Commscore); indicating that about two-thirds of all US internet users are now on Facebook. Facebook says the average user is on Facebook 55 minutes per day, out of a total average of four hours per day of total internet usage by the average US internet user. Those statistics are consistent with recent research based on Compete.com statistics indicating that Facebook now accounts for 25% of total US internet page views and 15% of page views in the UK. As a result of its dramatic surge in uniques and page views, Facebook is now directing more traffic to major portals like Yahoo and MSN than Google through “friendcasting” – the name given to the process of clicking on a link your friends post in their Facebook newsfeed.In this report we want to discuss two implications of Facebook’s dramatic growth.
Facebook has blown by MySpace in social networking and is poised to pass Google in 2010 in directed traffic
The world of television presented us with about 10 channels in the 70’s, which grew to 500 channels as digital proliferated in the late 90’s. The internet now brings us hundreds of millions of channels (i.e. websites, Facebook profile pages, blogs, etc.), which we have only been able to navigate with search. Yahoo dominated search in the early days, but they were passed by Google when Google came up with a better algorithm presented in a simpler design. Because they are the dominant search engine, Google emerged in the early part of the last decade as the dominant source of traffic for most sites.
MySpace was the early dominant “social network”, but the users weren’t really networked. We had to surf MySpace or hope someone came to our MySpace page to get any real value, and significant technical improvements were glacial.
Facebook’s improvements were simple but monumental. They used basic newsfeed technology to enable us to know what our friends are doing, thinking, buying, playing, or posting, simply by going to our own newsfeed.They also opened up their platform to third party developers, who quickly provided the Facebook community with a wide array of incredibly popular applications like Farmville, which has over 80 million players. In fact, Facebook states that there are more then 250 applications that have more then 1 million active users. While many of us used to go to Google to find the latest news, or would surf major or minor news sites to see what was going on in our world, our news and information is increasingly brought to us by friends who post news of interest to them or about them, which appears in our newsfeed. Friendcasting on Facebook will be complimented by Facebook’s increasingly deep integration of Bing’s search tools on Facebook, as well as by other social search applications on Facebook that let us mine the behavior and opinions of our friends. We believe Facebook will pass Google in terms of traffic generation to other websites in 2010.
Because we tell Facebook so much about ourselves, and because we spend so much time on Facebook, Facebook knows dramatically more about us than any other website in history, and Facebook’s willingness to share this data makes them an incredibly attractive partner to websites who like user data (which is almost every website). The question now is: how will Facebook leverage its powerful position to generate revenue and profits for their shareholders?
Facebook will be worth over $100 billion
Facebook will generate revenue from advertising, both display ads and through increasingly integrated search tools. Microsoft’s Bing, as the search provider on Facebook worldwide, compliments Facebook’s powerful “friendcasting”. Rather than merely offering links, the Bing integration will present more of the features available on the search engine itself. For display advertising, Facebook will increasingly be presenting ad formats that feature social actions. Social integrated ads perform better and provide a better user experience since they are consistent with the context and feel of Facebook. Facebook ads will also be increasingly targeted to people based on the information they provide Facebook. This combination of targeting and social relevance will drive enhanced performance and rates for Facebook display ads.
Global internet advertising is poised to grow to $96 billion in 2015 (according to Magna), a 10.5% five year CAGR. Traditionally in media, companies with scale are able to grab outsize share of ad spend. Therefore, as Facebook has the most global scale, its safe to assume that Facebook will attract its fair share of the market. While Facebook is still growing rapidly, we assume in our valuation thesis that they account for only 15% of total internet traffic in 2015. According to Drake Direct, based on Compete.com data, Facebook is already at 15% in the UK, and they are at ~25% in the US. We believe 15% is a conservative view of Facebook’s page view and time spend share in 2015, given its current trajectory. We estimate that Facebook’s 15% share of the global internet audience yields them a 15% share of the global internet advertising market, yielding a forecast of $14.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2015. Today this may seem like an aggressive assumption based on the fact that Facebook currently does not command a comparable CPM to many other websites for their display ads. But Facebook has just really begun to monetize their traffic and weave in targeting and social relevance, and they haven’t even begun monetizing social search. Where Google offers advertisers strong targeting for purchase intent, Facebook is the holy grail of targeted brand advertising, and is posed to make significant headway in search.
Facebook Connect is another powerful platform for Facebook to leverage and eventually monetize its user data. Facebook Connect is quickly becoming a de facto registration platform on the net. Currently, over 80,000 sites have already implemented Facebook Connect, including many large sites like CNN. Facebook Connect is emerging as the internet “passport” that enables people to enter any website, as well as interact with their friends who are also on that website. This will likely become another significant revenue platform, as Facebook could potentially harness Facebook Connect to create a leading ad network, leveraging their deep relationships with advertisers and their mountains of user data. For purposes of this analysis, we’ll assume they derive zero revenue from Facebook Connect in 2015. Therefore, in our analysis, investors are getting a free call on this massive business opportunity.
Next up, and just as interesting, is Facebook’s recently introduced payment system. Initial testing on Facebook indicates Facebook consumers prefer Facebook’s system to the other payment systems available on Facebook.Facebook is charging a whopping 30% fee to the publishers selling virtual goods (similar to Apple’s 30% take on applications sold on its iPhone platform). The system includes many other benefits for publishers (e.g. preferred placement in the gaming directory, better advertising rates) that only Facebook can provide. Analysts estimate that Facebook’s payment system will grab more then 50% share of payments on Facebook and generate $200 million this year based on projected sales well north of $1 billion in virtual goods in 2010. But payments on Facebook will be just the beginning for the payment system. Facebook Payments is well positioned to take meaningful share from PayPal all over the internet as users will increasingly be using Facebook Connect on ecommerce sites around the net. Paypal is expected to generate $3.3 billion in revenue on a base of 88mm active accounts in 2010. We believe Facebook Payments could grow to a $2 billion dollar business by 2015.
Given the simple analysis above, we project Facebook will drive $16.5 billion in revenue in 2015. While this is a big number, it is just over 1/3 of what Google would be projected to generate in 2015 if Google grew revenue at a 12% CAGR (about ½ it’s recent revenue CAGR of 20%). For ease, we assume Facebook achieves the same 35% EBITDA margin as Google is currently experiencing. Let’s similarly assume that Facebook, as a public company, would be valued using the same EBITDA multiple as Google is valued at today, which is 18X 2009 EBITDA. The math above implies a value of $103 billion based on 2015 projections.
Facebook is worth $50 billion today
If we discount $103 billion back by 15% per year, we get a price target of $51 billion today. This implies a value that is more than two-and-a-half times the $19 billion value Facebook shares are currently trading at on secondary private marketplaces. The table below looks at how our valuation would vary depending on various multiples and discount rates. Even at a 21% discount rate, Facebook would be worth more than 2x the current share price.
Another way to value Facebook helps put our target in to perspective. Based on current membership levels, we are valuing Facebook at $125 a member.If Facebook were valued on an 18X multiple of EBITDA today, that implies that Facebook has the power to generate $7 in EBITDA on average off its members, or $20 on average per member in revenue (assuming 35% margins). Neither number appears a stretch. Amazon earns $15/user in EBITDA, Google currently earns $20/user, and EBAY earns $34/user. We recognize these companies all have different business models, but we think it is helpful to put some context around our $7 EBITDA per Facebook user projection.
Is a 15% discount rate too low given that we’ve seen other social networks appear and then fade, most recently MySpace? We’ve seen other internet leaders founder – is Facebook like Yahoo? Is it possible Facebook is just a fad, as some argue? Our thesis is that Facebook is already deeply ingrained in our daily lives, and this is just the beginning. There are many reasons why the switching costs are significant, and Facebook keeps adding new ones – most recently Facebook was granted a patent on “the feed”, a core feature of Facebook’s functionality. Facebook is averaging over 100 million photos uploaded per day. People don’t like to leave those behind. With an average of 130 friends per user, almost everyone has many connections that only exist on Facebook. The average person is a member of 13 groups. As we increasingly move to mobile, we are bringing Facebook with us. The Facebook iPhone app has been downloaded by over 28 million people. In addition, every wireless operator is advertising the availability of Facebook apps on their phones.
Maybe our estimates are too conservative? 15% share of online ad revenue and 35% operating margins could prove too low. The data table below shows that each 1 percentage point of share of the online ad market for Facebook is worth $3 billion present value at a 35% margin. With 30% reach of global internet usage today, it is conceivable that Facebook ad share could be well over 15%.
Facebook shares are available for accredited investors to buy and sell, and the current value is $19 billion
There is a secondary private market for Facebook shares on sites like Sharepost.com and SecondMarket.com that make markets in shares of dozens of private firms, enabling employees to monetize some of their options.
After proving you’re an accredited investor, the transaction is papered, with the seller paying transaction costs.
While Facebook enables employees to sell their shares, the buyers of these common shares are prohibited from subsequently trading their shares until Facebook goes public or is acquired.
Right now, shares are being offered at $36-$38 per share, implying a market cap of $19 billion.
With only $600 million in rumored revenue in 2009, Facebook has done little to monetize its vast reach. As Facebook revenue generating initiatives start to scale, private market values should increase.
When the company goes public, the liquidity discount will evaporate and prices will rise to fair value.
Shares bought in the secondary private market are not liquid and do not entitle the owner to the information usually provided by public companies to their investors.
Another competitor could arise and take market share from Facebook. In fact, to the degree that Facebook attracts 15%+ of all internet time, every other website on average is generating 15% less traffic. So it’s easy to imagine other sites working together to try and thwart Facebook. But like Google, other websites will increasingly see Facebook as a “frenemy”, a strong competitor for the mindshare of internet users but also a driver of massive traffic.
Facebook either may not be capable of or may not be concerned with generating massive revenue or going public. This is unlikely since history has shown that once eyeballs are assembled, advertising and other monetization opportunities present themselves. Some people thought no one would advertise on MySpace, and they were proven wrong. And Facebook is far more advertising friendly than MySpace as pages are much less free form. While a few companies (most notably CraigsList) appear uninterested in maximizing revenue, Facebook’s significant VC investors will help drive both monetization and an eventual liquidity event. In addition, like Google, Facebook will need to generate cash to help finance its increasing spend on R&D to drive innovation.
Privacy remains a significant concern of internet users globally, and with all the data Facebook aggregates and make available, they are walking a fine line. Facebook has clearly had some missteps in the past, most notably its Beacon information sharing product in 2007 that caused an outcry from privacy groups. They have also had technical glitches, one as recent as last week where messages were misrouted. As a result of these lapses, Facebook is acutely aware of the privacy issue and they appear to be thoughtful in their approach. Google also struggles with privacy, as evidenced by their recent bungling of the introduction of Google Buzz.
Given Facebook’s increasing stranglehold on internet usage, governments in the U.S. and elsewhere could step in and, in some way, break up the near natural monopoly on social networking that Facebook will have.
Lou Kerner currently runs a portfolio of parked domain names and is COO of Gamers Media, an ad network for online casual gaming sites. Lou has a BA in Economics from UCLA and an MBA from Stanford University. This article is reprinted from a research report published yesterday on the research site track.com, a subscription site featuring the work of ex-Wall Street analysts. Mr. Kerner’s personal website can be found at http://loukerner.tumblr.com/.
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