My girlfriend and I met randomly while out running errands. It was a chance encounter. After we’d exchanged looks and information, the first thing she told me she did was go home to look me up on Facebook to see just how much she could gather on me — analyzing my photos, information and quotes to see if I’d be a good fit. In the modern age, it’s almost impossible to have an identity without something on the web.
It’s unavoidable. Mr. Zuckerberg and Facebook are attempting to conglomerize communication. The next big thing, whether it’s in music (Spotify), video (Socialcam), or the world’s most famous social media threat to Facebook (Instagram – purchased by Facebook for $1 billion dollars pending FTC approval — yes you read that right). After the Instagram purchase, I’m just going to refer to things of that nature as getting Zuckerberg’d. As in “they got Zuckerberg’d” and “we got Zuckerberg’d.” It’s just a matter of time before Apple (the holy grail to us) is in bed with Facebook, controlling your behavior and dream scenarios while you are asleep (I’m just kidding, hopefully).
It appears today that for technology, apps or social media engines – well, when we think about it, actually practically anything in this world has two options: Either they are bought by Facebook, or they are forced to integrate with it in order to be successful.
We could write a 35-page white paper on more philosophical-in-nature questions worth debating at cocktail hour: Does the amount of money and power Facebook has prevent anything from coming along and replacing it, or will it eat up everything new and become a dictator?; Is Mark Zuckerberg too powerful?; Is his ultimate goal to own communication? Is this dangerous?; Are your Facebook friends really your friends and how does that affect us?; Is Instagram changing social interaction and lowering thresholds to morality/decency/privacy, leading to more shallow communication? Are we witnessing the death of text, replaced by images and emoticons?; and so on.
So what does social status as defined by your ability to put a decent filter on a photo or where you “checked in” mean to your agency, your business and, ultimately, your bottom line? If you are like me, you are in the creative business of making ideas happen, whether it is through web, interactive, print or some other medium. You are looked to as someone who understands culture and its influencers. As such, we are expected to engage in what is happening and what is now. We are to test and be tested, in order to be able to recommend. These deeply affecting social issues happening on a personal level should also be applied to your business strategy.
Recently, I had an interaction with the owner of a high-end fashion line, who has close to 30 stores in the most prominent US cities, including: Soho in New York City, Beverly Hills, La Jolla in Southern California, San Francisco and Chicago. Six months ago (and he’s well behind) he scoffed at the idea of corporate needing an Instagram account, let alone each of his individual stores. Fast forward to this week, where they had a mandatory, national executive meeting lasting an hour and a half on Facebook and Instagram strategy. Not only was the use of Instagram mandated for each of the 30 stores, but corporate provided guidelines on how to communicate, engage, and utilize the specified company filters permitted on photo edits. In the meeting, he used metrics to show correlation between top producing US stores that are using social media vehicles Facebook and Instagram. The results were undeniable.
Facebook and Instagram are the modes of communication pioneering us into the next wave of society and human existence. Agencies and businesses must drop the corporate speak and keep active on Facebook, posting interesting, relevant and engaging information. If not, people aren’t going to look twice at your page, and, inherently, like the first impression we showcase to new acquaintances with our personal accounts, your brand will judged negatively by this experience.
On the bright side, there is tremendous opportunity. Facebook and Instagram affect all kinds of industry and economy. As small agencies professionals, we must recognize business growth potential using creativity to get a piece of the pie.
I’ll tackle two opportunities and provide examples. First, on an interactive side, is gamification. This doesn’t just refer to making lucrative games for the app store (which is growing more and more crowded), but realizing that everything has gaming opportunity. In fact, the trick is to “gamify” life itself. Due to mobile devices and the Internet, everything can be a game. The trick is to drive consumer behavior without the consumer realizing it. There is immense potential for agencies to figure out how you can best utilize this. For more on gamifying the world, see this TED talk by Seth Priebatsch, one of the 20 most influential under 30 (and he’s a multi-multi-millionaire to boot).
Secondly, there are opportunities in technology for hard goods to accompany web-based interactive. We now have Instagram cameras appearing to reinvent the spirit of the Polaroid. Or take this example coming to a location near you: Insert Coin: Instaprint offers portable photo booths for Instagram.
We are communicating in the same way we text message, and it is far beyond what our English teachers taught. This is the ADD generation, absorbing information as fast as possible. As a result, communication is being radically altered. What you must realize for you and your business is that the rules are being rewritten by Facebook and its subsidiaries. You can either adapt, develop a strategy and get a piece, or fall in stubbornness. We want what’s cool. We want to ingest in pill form. It’s happening.