Not Just About the "Like:" Facebook as Marketing Platform - AJ Vernet

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It's all everyone is doing and talking about these days, with Facebook nearing 1 billion users. You realize that's almost 15% of the world's population? If Facebook were a country, only China and India would be bigger. Half of my conversations with clients tend to be about how to integrate properly with Facebook and how to capture more likes, interactions and fans.

At this point, Facebook isn't just a social fad where people post arm-out, chins-up photos at cool parties and announce that you "like" the cutest dog in the world. It's become a network of human interaction that is constantly reaching further and further into the veins of the Internet. And believe me, there are no plans for it to stop growing or stop being an influence or stop determining how we communicate with each other. Its growth is fueled by the Facebook Platform's development motto of "Move fast, be open." Facebook will continue to grow with a society that is constantly being given new ways to share and interact.

With all this growth and influence, Facebook is just too big not to have a plan for everyone. Brands, on the other hand, continue to try to engage their consumers through Facebook, but often struggle on two fronts: 1) strategy and 2) production.

I can't pretend to be a strategist for Facebook, but I live on Facebook as an individual and I help brands build the very experiences that have survived the brand's strategy period. In short, I engage both sides. I've "liked" a few brands. But, I'm not sure what that means.

Brands have engaged audiences on a one-way pipeline forever. TV spot. They make it. We watch it. Print Ad. They make it. We look at it.

Not with Facebook. Facebook suddenly gives the audience a voice to like, dislike (no button, you have to say it), possibly even love or hate. They can embrace or lash out, and I bet this leaves brands feeling a little vulnerable. It's suddenly a relationship and everyone knows that those can get complicated.

Therefore, brands have hired armies to analyze, provide a point of view and help them navigate Facebook as carefully as possible. Brands ultimately discover that a "safe" page about their business with benign commentary or a fun little app that "something-izes" a picture doesn't really move the social needle. Or, if it does, it doesn't for long.

Thus, whether brands are asking directly or Facebook is just paying attention, Facebook has a strategy to help.

On April 18th, Facebook announced the Preferred Marketing Developer Program. This article will go on forever if I break down every badge and initiative that Facebook intends. But, in short, as it says on their site, Facebook's mission is simple: "To help developers build products that make social marketing easier and more effective."

As it happens, my company has been selected by Facebook as a PMD. Being a development company, we concentrate on how to build for Facebook. Strategy inevitably trickles into our world, and we'll happily advise our clients if their strategy is misguided or counter-intuitive to the build or user experience. But, our primary purpose is to develop.

Development for Facebook can be tricky. Much like the roads of a large city, Facebook is always under construction. The front-end experience may stay the same, but the back-end is in constant flux, which makes development for Facebook a challenge. Since we have a direct relationship with Facebook, our PMD status comes with the opportunity to see under the hood, know how the platform is evolving, and therefore develop faster and more effective Facebook experiences for our Clients.

So, as the Facebook infrastructure grows, we, too can grow with it and the questions we should all be asking ourselves is what's the best experience we can offer our audience so that in turn they become evangelist for our brands. We should all embrace the opportunity to leverage Facebook to its fullest potential as a platform – and for our brands.

AJ Vernet is Founder and CEO of Rey Interactive, which is a Los Angeles and New York based digital and video production company positioned to partner with agencies, creative firms, publishers and brands as a scalable and seamless production resource. AJ can be reached at

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