Google’s Page lashes out at Facebook for lack of openness

Today’s selection is…

Miguel Helft’s piece for Fortune Tech about the recent and much awaited appearance of Larry Page, the new yet not so new CEO of Google, in which many things are debated including his vocal cord problems. However, the most important passage from that story is as conclusion in which page lashes at Facebook for not being open enough and pledges openness of social data. Now you’re talking Larry! I’m almost in love with Google plus again. Let me find my old password…

[is Facebook – and other social networks – gearing towards a closed Internet?]

After long silence, Google’s Page speaks

[…] After extolling the virtues of Googles multi-year effort to develop an accurate digital representation of the real world with its mapping services, he said the company was “almost there.” In a clear reference to Apple’s embarrassing rollout of a mapping application that was riddled with errors, he added: “We are we are excited that other people have started to notice that we’ve worked hard on that for 7 years.”MORE: Facebook vs. Google: The battle for the future of the Web. He said it was “likely” that Google would try to make its maps available on Apple devices, despite its lack of control over how they would appear or be distributed.

And in a pointed criticism at Facebook refusal to open up its data to outside parties, including Googles search engine, he said the Internet worked best when essential data was shared across companies. Speaking specifically about social data, he said: “I would love to make use of that in any way we can.”

via After long silence, Googles Page speaks – Fortune Tech.

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (5/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 5 of 5

Name a few examples as to how social media management has helped Orange get more brand awareness?

In most markets in which it operates in the consumer space, Orange has a very good brand awareness not to say the best. So social media isn’t really used for this at Orange. We tend to use it more for image, co-creation (like with the entry level offer in France), brand and user experience (see or to name but a few recent examples), charity (check the French Orange foundation blog, user relationship (like Orange helpers in the UK: and brand nurturing (like Facebook Romania for instance). These are only a few examples from different countries but there are many more than this.

The only counterexample I can think of is the one I’ve been involved in for 3 years between 2008 and 2011, and it is related to the b2b arm of Orange, that is to say Orange Business Services ( . It is understandable that being in 220 different countries and territories as Orange Business Services is, means that there are vastly different levels of brand awareness in each of those geographies. Social media can come be useful in the areas in which we are not operating in the consumer space in order to boost the knowledge of Orange Business as well as our skills. It has proven very successful in many instances, we have even been able to use the blogs to initiate sales at a later stage (this is ‘pre-commerce’ again).

[1] Check my personal blog for this topic at



[4] Small Office, Home Office, i.e. very small or independent companies

[5] Media Aces is the French association of enterprises involved in social media, of which I am the President. My work on the four different types of brand in social media is available at:

[6] Oscar Wilde quotes at:

[7] Check the ‘worldwide’ tab on the page


[9] Re. Andy Sernocitz ‘Word of Mouth Marketing’ check on Amazon

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (4/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 4 of 5

What do you think the ratio for the implementation of social media campaign should be in the entire media budget of the company? How was this situation at Orange?

To begin with, I do not like the term “campaign” which I find too military and aggressive. Eventually, social media marketing is a new form of marketing, more respectful, more centred on our customer’s interests and requirements, based on the principles of crowd sourcing and customer centricity. So I ban this kind of language as well as other terms like “targets” which are often times the staples of traditional marketing but are outdated and not applicable to social media marketing. Despite what most people think, social media marketing has to be thought of in the long-term, not in the short term.

using military analogies for communications? not a good idea … From bastille day

My second recommendation would be to build engagement and then spend money, not the other way round. First, I always start building the network using content. This is what takes the greatest part of our work and energy. Each time I am in charge of a new digital department, I start working on my content strategy and building the content, both externally and internally, which will fuel my digital strategy. Once I have done that, I can start crystallise communities around the content which we have created, as well as adapt the content to the liking of our audiences. The second step is to grow the network so that it reaches a critical mass. The third stage is to create synergies between the pages and the different platforms that we use: the Facebook hub on all Orange pages[7] is a good example of that, or Orange timeline[8] which groups or Twitter accounts around Orange. But it is also a matter of linking platforms and blogs to one another, both at Orange, and with Orange partners outside of the company.

Once I have sorted out all my budgets, and made considerable savings, then and only then can I invest my money, with great care, on advertising to promote this content and bring back traffic to my main platforms. This is a slightly more lengthy approach, but it pays in the long-term and is incredibly strong in terms of resilience.

My last recommendation would be to say to companies that they shouldn’t spend millions on word-of-mouth because word-of-mouth is supposed to be cost-effective; otherwise this is just advertising and advertising works best in traditional media[9].

My main frustration with regard to social advertising is to see that mainstream social media platforms have done very little to reinvent advertising so far. Innovation in that space is not on par with what we are supposed to expect. But this will probably change in the medium-term, hopefully.

As to Orange Group, this is how we work. I still haven’t spent a dime to grow the page and yet we grew it from 40,000 people in May 2011 to over 215,000 a year later! Similarly, our Group Twitter account ( was brought from nothing to close to 9,500 followers in just a year, through sheer organic growth and content sharing.

Now that we have grown a critical mass, we might consider advertising to speed things up or bring them to the next level, but I do not expect those spends to grow out of proportion and much in excess of 10% of my overall budget, in the very long run.


[7] Check the ‘worldwide’ tab on the page

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (3/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 3 of 5

Can you give us 5 tips as to how company can manage a crisis through social media?

In fact, despite what most people think, and despite the usual romantic stories told about Internet crises and rumours, managing crises is a long-term rather than short-term exercise. Crises in social media in fact, reflect what is bad with your company, not what is wrong with your community management or the way you handle it. Here are my 5 tips about managing crises:

picture cc 2012 Yann Gourvennec (abstract album)
  1. fix internal problems first: things that you do in your day-to-day business may be kept hidden, but not in social media. Eventually, social media tells more about the way that you are organised internally than about anything else,
  2. work on the process: if you are making things up as you go along when a crisis arises, and then build the process as it happens, it means that you have done something wrong. You should work on that process from day one, before a crisis takes place,
  3. make your PR go social: don’t put all your eggs in the same basket; your PR and social media departments should work hand-in-hand. There is nothing that the community management team should do without referring to PR when a crisis arises, and vice versa, there is nothing that PR is aware of that should not be communicated to the community management team, inclusive of the stances which have to be taken and displayed. Don’t take the Lone Ranger approach by letting community managers express themselves in the name of the company even though they haven’t received clearance for it. This applies to large companies and mostly listed companies, for which external communications are extremely critical, and may not be applicable to smaller enterprises,
  4. prepare for the worst to happen outside normal working hours: my experience of crises online has shown that the worst problem often occur on a Friday night from 8 pm onwards or during the weekend, or at night. Work with vendors in order to set up round-the-clock moderation when necessary, in multiple languages when you are a worldwide company namely,
  5. set up your alerting system: not to generate alerts in real time all the time, but mostly when something bad happens so that you know in real time when you have to do something when it is really necessary.

All these are applicable to companies with a strong brand awareness only. Listed companies rank high on the agenda with regard to crisis management issues and the need to industrialise the process around them. On the other side of the coin, other companies with weak brand awareness would gain from a negative crisis rather than lose. If your brand is entirely “under the radar”, and no one is talking about you at all, then having a crisis means that at least people will talk about you; even though the experience may be unpleasant. As Oscar Wilde once put it: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about[6].”

[6] Oscar Wilde quotes at:

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (2/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 2 of 6

Give us 5 tips for a Romanian company (a corporation, and medium-size company) to build brand awareness with social media

At first sight, one may think that social media marketing is only devoted to large corporations which can afford to hire big enough teams to manage such new activities.

But I think it’s just the other way round.

One of the biggest beauties of social media is that it makes word-of-mouth marketing accessible even to those who have very little means. Hence, unless you are a small and medium-size enterprise with difficulties to cope with your own business and not enough time on your hands to visit your customers and do your everyday work, I would suggest on the contrary that you use social media to gain brand awareness and do business.

small is beautiful

In fact, with social media you don’t actually do business directly. You do what Bob Pearson would call “pre-commerce” (Jossey Bass, 2011), i.e. you create the conditions for people to buy your products or recommend them to one another.

As a rule, large corporations have already built brand awareness (this is why they are large, in essence); what such companies might seek in social media marketing may differ significantly from what small and medium-sized companies may be looking for.

SMEs and Soho[4] businesses are by definition lesser-known and  have to build their brand awareness in the first place.

Having said that, I can deliver 5 general tips for enterprises which are ready to jump on the bandwagon of social media marketing:

  1. first and foremost, know thyself and use social networks consistently with regard to your image, and your overall marketing strategy (for different types of brands and strategies, check the work the non-profit Media Aces[5] did with brand monitoring company Synthesio,
  2. don’t shift your focus from business to social media: obviously, social media should support your business by enhancing your brand experience, awareness and/or visibility. If it distracts you from doing business, then don’t do it,
  3. focus on content: if you are in b2b, it will have to be very professional (in-depth articles about your visions and technical prowess for instance); if you are in b2c, your content has to be essentially entertaining, mostly on Facebook, on which users rarely want to be bothered with serious stuff but are more interested in games, polls and interaction,
  4. be yourself: there is nothing worse than bombastic boasts (such as “we are the leaders!” mostly when it’s not true and that you are only a leader of a niche therefore not a leader) or salespeople trying to sell their wares on social media. Think of keeping your readers/users and customers happy first, and then think of yourself. Be simple and natural, and when you produce content make it interesting for them, and not for you!
  5. “socialise” your website: not by multiplying Facebook buttons, but by making your (interesting) content easier to share.

[4] Small Office, Home Office, i.e. very small or independent companies

[5] Media Aces is the French association of enterprises involved in social media, of which I am the President. My work on the four different types of brand in social media is available at:

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (1/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 1 of 5

What trends have you identified in corporate social media management at the moment? Does Romania align to these trends (or what must Romanian companies do to do that)?

I have highlighted 10 major trends in the management of corporate social media in 2012 in a post which is available at This post served as a basis for my presentation at the Ronewmedia conference which took place in Bucharest on May 16th, 2012. Rather than repeat what is said in this blog piece and was again developed during my presentation, I will attempt to sum it up in a few words:

First, social media is reaching maturity stage and is no longer considered an innovation. Second, barring a few exceptions (if you sell extremely boring products like plastic tarpaulins for instance), social media is now part of everything we do, and has become an integral part of digital marketing; b2b is no exception, on the contrary. Digital marketers who have failed to delve into the nitty-gritty of social media, have missed something big and they had better catch up. Lastly, social media is no longer restricted to a particular team within the digital department; it has to be used by each and every one of us in business.

Very few companies are an exception to this rule; the impact on b2b marketing might even be more important than that on b2c marketing, however counter-intuitive it may seem[1]. As to Romania, it is obvious that we are talking of a country in which there is already a very high level of IT knowledge and expertise, as you know there are even some international high-tech giants which are Romanian such as bitdefender[2] for instance; so it would be irrelevant to treat Romania separately from the rest of the world. Having said that, there are real regional differences in social media adoption both quantitatively and quantitatively, but the results of these discrepancies are sometimes surprising. If I look at the profile of the users of the Orange Worldwide page ( you might be very surprised to learn that Central and Eastern European users amount to more than 35% of our overall users: Poland is by far the biggest fan base in our portfolio, but Romania is not very far behind in proportion, given it is a smaller country. More than 5% of our users are Romanian in fact! And our local Romanian Facebook page ( is also booming with more than 164,000 likers.

So, Romania and Romanian companies are not out of sync and are part of this globalised world like anyone else. Only a handful of emerging countries as well as Iran and Russia standout; the Ronewmedia[3] conference provided enough evidence of the latter in its first panel.

[1] Check my personal blog for this topic at



4 suggested business models for Facebook to make money with its platform

by Alban Fournier (

QQ ID: 1557637787

Alban Fournier is a graduate from Essec Management School in Paris. He has proficiency in Management, Change Management, Marketing and Consulting services. He has worked on various engagements with Schneider Electric and Tencent, the leading Chinese Internet company.

value creation and monetization at Facebook: to succeed, other revenue streams than advertising and app revenue share should be developed now

For many, including Google, Facebook is a distraction from regular Internet surfing. The Palo Alto-based social network company firm has developed an engaging experience for users which creates some sort of addiction to the social network: almost all your “friends” are here and such a sheer volume of users is not available anywhere else.

currently Facebook data is available for free

Facebook offers its service in exchange for the right to capture and collect a huge volume  of demographic and preference data from its users. That data is extremely valuable to brands. Marketers and advertisers can use the data efficiently because it is detailed and personal.

the social graph … a core asset

The social graph is a core asset of Facebook representing people and the connections they have to everything they care about. Today, the social graph, or profile information database, is not used for business with third parties outside the Facebook website: Facebook has prevented its business partners from using the data it provides to approach users exclusively within Facebook. Through the social graph, it is possible to find and match data across different groups of people. It is also possible to produce a graph of preferences and identify people who share a common liking for a brand.

The Graph API presents a simple, consistent view of social graph objects (such as people, photos, events, and pages) and the connections between them (friendships, likes, and tags) (Facebook Inc, 2012). The Graph API also enables partners to read and write data into Facebook. Through “Facebook Connect”, a protocol also allows businesses to make all the features currently found on Facebook available on their own websites. For instance the “Like” feature, allowing user actions to show up on people’s profiles, publish actions across their friends’  newsfeeds etc.

a huge volume of data

Facebook is now building an ever bigger volume of data on how its users interact with sites within and beyond its walls. The feature called “Facebook Connect” is a win-win mechanism: the firm gives brands access to Facebook’s users’ real names, email addresses, profile pictures and friends lists. In return, the brand shares the activity of its Facebook users on its brand web pages. Both Facebook and its partners can improve their understanding of users’ habits across the world wide web.

automatic opt-in!

The Open Graph Protocol allows third-parties to access most, if not all, of a Facebook user’s data as long as he has opted in via the privacy settings. Yet, please note that by default all users are automatically enrolled into the Open Graph Protocol (Open Graph protocol, 2012)! [editor’s note: therefore it’s not opt-in]

The volume of participation is a critical component. With the right level of engagement and participation, a social circle may influence another social circle to participate in an external offering, whereas previously, I mean without a “friend” connection, that level of comfort to engage with an external site may not have existed. Brands have the opportunity to track and offer incentives for people promoting their brand.

building the semantic web

Facebook might be able to build a web ecosystem where a user’s needs can be anticipated, understood and personalised for them: it is called the semantic web. The social network firm did understand the opportunities of collecting user data on their interests much more than we could have expected.

Yet, as of today, Facebook is mainly an advertising platform but its business model of Facebook should change from a pre advertising-based model to a combined business model covering: advertising, revenue sharing, merchant, and infomediary services.

1. advertising model

Facebook sells ad space on its site. Like other Internet firms, it is offering personalisation options in online advertising. Facebook helps its clients target their ads at specific groups of Facebook users, based on elements of users’ profile data. In the online-advertising ecosystem, the brand or individual is able to collect metrics and analytics. This means that the brand or advertiser can predict the impact its campaign will have. This demand of brands for users’ data is crucial for Internet players.

One of the issue with the advertising model though is that it is prone to fluctuations due to the economic situation. With the current crisis, Google’ revenues were impacted with a light decrease in advertising revenues in the first half of 2009. However, the main challenge for Facebook is the behaviour of its users: advertising on smartphones seems less efficient than on computers. On the other hand, advertising on tablets shows some results and the growth will come from such devices too.

2. revenue-sharing model: applications and virtual goods

Facebook is getting a percentage of the revenue it generates with applications hosted on its platform through revenue-sharing agreements with developers who created and own the application. Facebook hands over a few categories of public profile data (such as sex, age, location etc.) to the app makers, enabling them to personalise the end-user experience. In 2011, Facebook got 12% out of the revenue coming from Zynga thanks to a 30% revenue share with Facebook (SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, 2012).

The business of micro transactions for virtual goods is booming. When users purchase virtual goods using Facebook payment infrastructure, the firm receive fees that represent a portion of the transaction value. The opportunity for Facebook is not only in social games. Taking the example of Tencent, virtual goods can be used for many other purposes like avatars and other online benefits internally or through other business partners.

According to the report of Strategy Analytics called “Virtual Worlds Market Forecast 2009-2015” (Gilbert, 2009), the worldwide revenue generated from the sale of virtual goods is forecasted to increase to $17 billion by 2015. Facebook currently requires the integration of a payment system in games. The firm should seek to extend the use of online payments to other types of applications and mobile tools in the near future. Its App centre will come handy.

The use of a virtual currency like Facebook credits (editor’s note: Facebook credits were discontinued in 2012 but will soon be replaced) makes easier micro transactions of real and virtual goods over the Internet. Those credits could be used both within Facebook and on partner websites. The decision to have credits in local currencies should accelerate the use of micro payments over the platform.

3. Infomediary services Model: anonymous social marketing?

Facebook could start charging for access to its user data. User data is potentially highly valuable. Facebook collects a rich set of information from its user profiles. Each profile contains not only the user’s demographic data, but also data about the user interests. Every action adds an additional piece of information: adding a friend, liking a brand, looking at a page or a video…The tastes and buying habits of the users and connections (or “likers”) are much better indications of what the user is likely to buy than are its demographics (i.e. age, sex, and location data…). As a consequence, selling anonymous user data is a good way to make money sharing knowledge of people interests, those people being potential buyers of products.

Application developers could have to share a higher percentage of revenue in order to benefit from user data.

Facebook could dissociate its users’ data from its platform and license it to web data brokers or directly to large CPG businesses, once all personally identifiable information has been expunged. External marketers and advertisers might also be interested to use the data to target ads or other content at potential customers either online or offline. A marketer from CPG firms such as Procter & Gamble or LVMH, could compare this combination of demographics and preference data, and determine similarities with people who have bought their products previously.

The sale of users’ data is a good and easy way to quickly monetise Facebook’s assets. Besides, market insights is another source of cash that could be created through Facebook. With its huge database, the firm can sell specific insights matching the needs of its clients.

4. Merchant model with e-Commerce Transactions: Facebook can become a key tool in the purchasing decision process

E-commerce is expecting opportunities to leverage the existing platform thanks to: a massive logged-in user base; insight into users’ interests; and the network’s ability to generate “word-of-mouth”. Facebook should therefore seek to build payment relationships with consumers; and promote its existing billing system. With the amount of volume of activity and users the firm has at its disposal, extending the current business model with its existing customers is easier and faster (Zhenga Lindgardt, 2009).

The firm should therefore be able to charge a fee based on a percentage of revenue sold through the platform. The knowledge of actual tastes and preferences of Facebook users makes the social network very attractive for the discovery of products and services, and online purchases. Provided Facebook sorts out and improves its mobile strategy, mobile commerce could its first source of revenue as early as 2020. The firm could indeed charge a fee per store and asks for a percentage against each transaction (1%-3% according to the product or service). We can expect Facebook to become a link between a brand and a potential customer through his or her history.

For most users, Facebook is able to carry out the promise of personalisation better than any other e-merchant and deliver a purchasing experience around the data it owns. At the time of decision to purchase or not a product or a service, the social connection gives confidence in buying if the perceived value and benefits of the products are recommended by “friends”.

Nobody knows what the future holds for Facebook, and even though the task is difficult and risky, here are two cents and a projection available from my site at

follow in the steps of Tencent!

As a conclusion, as explained, Facebook Inc. is likely to generate much more revenue from user data through mobile & tablet commerce, and infomediary services in the years to come. The profitability of the firm could increase in case the company follows the path of Tencent, one of the world leaders in the business of micro transactions. The business of virtual goods is growing and highly profitable: Facebook should take advantage of this kind of opportunities.


Facebook Inc. (2012, May). Core Concepts – Open Graph – Tutorial. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from Facebook Developers:

Gilbert, B. (2009, June 1). Virtual Worlds Market Forecast 2009-2015. Retrieved January 21, 2011, from Strategy Analytics:

Open Graph protocol. (2012, March 22). Open Graph protocol. Retrieved April 12, 2012, from Open Graph protocol:


Zhenga Lindgardt, M. R. (2009, December). Business Model Innovation. Retrieved April 23, 2012, from BCG:

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