Facebook - Like It or Not?

  |  March 29, 2012   |  Comments

As a publisher, you have an important choice to make: whether to adopt Facebook Connect as your sign-up and sign-on system, or not.

One of the biggest compliments anyone can receive is to be considered "connected." In the old days - before 2006 - being connected to thousands of people would have been considered pretty special, something that you might aspire to.

The rise of Facebook changed the notion of "connection" for everyone, forever.

We're far enough into the so-called social media era that by this time you already have an opinion about Facebook. Not as a user, but as a publisher.

What you think about Facebook is serious business. If you're an online publisher, what you think about Facebook is no laughing matter. Because, to a publisher, you have an important choice to make: whether to adopt Facebook Connect as your sign-up and sign-on system, or not.

For the uninitiated, Facebook Connect is, according to current Path CEO and former Facebook Engineer Dave Morin, "the next iteration of Facebook Platform that allows users to 'connect' their Facebook identity, friends and privacy to any site."

What got publishers really excited was that by using Facebook Connect, "Facebook users represent themselves with their real names and real identities. With Facebook Connect, users can bring their real identity information with them wherever they go on the Web, including: basic profile information, profile picture, name, friends, photos, events, groups, and more."

It's easy to see the reaction in hindsight: basically the collective reaction was: "Wow. That sounds awesome. Sign me up! Let's use that so our users will sign up with their real identities!"

It's easy to see why this might be considered an easy decision. For one, with 850 million users on Facebook, the prospect of connecting with them seamlessly and increasing engagement is almost impossible to ignore, and maybe stupid to avoid. And then there is the ease of implementation.

But almost four years in, and with billions of connects served, some publishers beg to differ. I polled a couple of them about their opinions and you might be surprised.

Todd Sawicki, chief revenue officer of the awesome LOLCat site Icanhascheezburger - aka 'Cheezburger,' would seem to represent a Facebook-friendly demographic of people who enjoy sharing. But he has a different take:

"Facebook is a powerful source of traffic - to many publishers now the largest. The challenge with Facebook is being very conscious of the deal you are making with Facebook every time you publish into Facebook and every time you integrate a Facebook feature. They get engagement and you get traffic. Note the last part 'and you get traffic.' Maniacally measure how much you get in return and if it's not a very powerful ROI, then don't do it. At the same, beware of the crack dealer that Facebook represents, meaning they can easily get you hooked and if you become hooked, then you will be without any other recourse if/when Facebook tilts the rules in their favor, as they just did with brands and likes, you will be stuck paying the dealer."

Nicole Delma, chief data officer of RCRD LBL, the premier online destination for free, curated, and legal MP3 downloads from the hottest marquee and emergent artists, concurs with Todd.

"With businesses acquiring more data than ever before, it's critical that marketers address the real costs of holding on to and managing irrelevant data. Particularly in email, maintaining a large database of unengaged or poorly qualified leads can be painfully expensive when you add up the costs associated with deliverability challenges, reengagement marketing efforts, data storage and the manpower needed to manage each of those processes. Before businesses jump at the chance to add a very passive email acquired to social sign-in because it seems like a 'cheap and easy' acquisition strategy, they should carefully consider how much time and money it is going to cost them to manage that poorly qualified and disengaged lead and how much data they've sacrificed from their proprietary database to obtain it."

Both of these data- and user-focused publishing leaders agree on one thing. You are striking a devil's bargain when you "connect" with Facebook. Ask yourself this question: "When I use Facebook Connect to sign up and sign in visitors to my site, what am I getting in return? Are these my subscribers, or are they Facebook's? Is that iFrame on my site a data leak? Is it a fire hose of irrelevant data that will pollute my database?"

Should your site stick to a good old email sign-up so your users know what they're signing in to? Or should you do what all the cool kids do and just add Facebook Connect? It turns out that "being connected" is kind of complicated.

Of course, I know there are differences of opinion. I invite you to discuss in the comments section your views on the effectiveness of Facebook Connect, or contact me here.

Tags:

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, August 29 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Hendricks

As president of LiveIntent, Dave Hendricks has overall responsibility for revenue, finance, legal, and operations. Prior to joining LiveIntent before its 2009 Series A, Dave was EVP of operations at PulsePoint (then known as Datran Media), where he worked with LiveIntent founder and CEO Matt Keiser and ran Datran's ESP StormPost. Before all that, Dave held senior roles at data management companies InfoUSA and Experian. A member of the founding executive team at ExperianCheetahMail, Dave began his email adventure at Pioneering ESP MessageMedia after running global partnerships for Oracle Corp. Dave was named one of Silicon Alley Insiders Top 100 technologists in 2011 and is active in several IAB Committees including Mobile and Email. Follow him on Twitter @davehendricks.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Email newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

Resources

Jobs

    • Product Specialist
      Product Specialist (Agora Inc. ) - BaltimoreDescription: The Product Specialist is hyper-focused on the customer experience and ensures that our...
    • Partnerships Senior Coordinator
      Partnerships Senior Coordinator (Zappos.com, Inc.) - Las VegasZappos IP, Inc. is looking for a Partnerships Senior Coordinator! Why join us? Our...
    • Assistant Product Listing Ads (PLA) Manager
      Assistant Product Listing Ads (PLA) Manager (Zappos.com, Inc.) - Las VegasZappos IP, Inc. is looking for an Assistant Product Listing Ads (PLA...