Think About This...

What do you think of when you think of an exclusively online company who has enormous brand equity?  Overstock.com came to mind immediately, then the likes of Amazon.com and eBay.  Ultimately I chose Facebook because I am utterly fascinated by the company, by their founder, and by how they accidentally built an unparalleled brand – exclusively online – and how that brand is now woven into the fabric of our culture.

I started my social network experience on MySpace and was a late-adopter to Facebook.  I have since canceled the MySpace account and now I am absolutely fanatical about how it works for my social life, for my business life, and for my daily life. What started as a way for co-eds to hook up has transformed the way we do business, well, it has transformed the way we do everything. Facebook is a verb.  Think about that.  An exclusively online brand has so much equity that it has become a part of our vernacular.  We no longer ask people to e-mail us.  We say, “Facebook me”.  We no longer exchange business cards but instead ask people if they are on Facebook and immediately take out our smart phone to add them immediately.  We do this at happy hour, at the gym, at the office, in board meetings – everywhere.

It seems almost ridiculous to say that Facebook keeps reinventing itself since it has only existed for five years.  But they constantly make updates and add new features.  They have become a portal to the Internet.  Think about that for a second, too.  Facebook is not where people go once they are online but it is online. Even the Today Show has that little blue “f” in the corner of the screen inviting us to interact with them on the social site. This is another reason why the brand has so much equity.  Facebook is no longer a link from a company’s web site but rather to it. 

The thing that spellbinds me the most about it is the impact that it has on business.  All business.  Facebook doesn’t sell anything to its own consumers however it has made millions and maybe billions for everyone else’s business.  Businesses of all sizes can inexpensively target their market with precision.  Moreover, it is quantifiable!  So, while upper management may not quite understand how it all works, they have seen the results in the bottom line. Of course, it’s mostly free.  The power of WOM in growing social media , but what we are seeing is that as Facebook uses WOM to attract new members, our own companies gain an incredible advantage over our competition who may not “get it”.

For a company or organization that understands how this medium works and how to effectively leverage an integrated marketing approach to brand building, there really is no comparison or limit to what we can achieve for own brands by utilizing social media. Again, I ask you to think about that for a moment.  We use the power of someone else’s brand equity to build and leverage our own.  Facebook is a verb.  Facebook has transcended and transformed the social culture and business landscape, not just in the U.S. but globally. 

In December, Time magazine announced their person of the year for 2010 is Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) citing that Facebook is changing the way human beings communicate with each other in unprecedented ways and we may not fully understand its impact for generations. Wow.

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