Put that aside.
Here’s the real news, and Facebook should be embarrassed with a capital E. For at least six months, I’ve been reading about Facebook’s lack of a mobile strategy. Its mobile platform is nada; as in, it practically doesn’t exist.
When it was privately held, mobility was a nagging problem. Now that Facebook is public, developing mobility solutions are front and center. How could a behemoth the likes of Facebook with 900 million users allow a slow-to-market debacle?
CrowdStar, an app developer, had 50 million daily active users in 2010 on Facebook. It just stopped making games for Facebook and has put its eggs in the iPhone and Android baskets to focus strictly on mobile solutions. Guess why?
Games for Facebook are not accessible via Facebook’s mobile site. (REALLY?!) When Facebook users access their personal pages using smart phones and tablets, we see limited versions of the News Feed and friends’ profiles. Alas, no games, either.
Apparently, Facebook ego may’ve gotten in the way. It didn’t want to develop mobile apps for iPhone and Android because there wasn’t a combined platform to develop one solution for all mobile devices. Alas, HTML5 isn’t going to hit the market for about two to three years; a lifetime in social media. Facebook can’t wait. Maybe its acquisition of my favorite social sharing app, Instagram, will help push development of mobile solutions. The fact that Facebook has no rapport with handset makers will not.
During its investor roadshow pre-IPO, analysts asked about Facebook’s mobile strategy. The conclusion was that Facebook’s lack of mobility was the number-one risk for the entire IPO experience.
The Point is PR
Did I sound smart up there? Truth is, I read the Wall Street Journal every day; always good to enhance the smarts a notch or three. Because my life is about regurgitating content, this topic is absolutely fascinating.
Let me add one further angle to this debacle; I imagine the Facebook PR team is all wrapped up in the situation room sweating. They’ve got a #RockHot crisis on their hands!
- Pre-IPO, General Motors pulled the plug on $10 million worth of Facebook advertising (and garnered a hefty amount of publicity for that strategic move).
- The IPO was not impressive and shares dropped the Monday following. Although shares are certain to move up soon, right?
- Mark Zuckerberg married his long-time girlfriend the day after the IPO (this probably doesn’t matter, but I liked the surprise addition to the news).
- A mobility strategy is lacking, but likely forthcoming.
- A major game developer just jumped ship to the competition.
My PR Counsel
If you were part of the marketing team, what counsel would you offer from the PR perspective? Here’s what I might toss onto the table:
- Every single Facebook user is now a potential shareholder (if we can get our hands on some of the stock). That means Facebook needs to begin caring about 900 million global individuals.
- Facebook should create a grassroots thought leadership team and begin making the rounds on the speaking circuit to improve the brand.
- Zuckerberg needs to be media trained with heavy-hitting messages targeting monetization, advertising, relationships with developers and those who can jump start its mobile strategy.
- For us bloggers? How about a blogger relations program? Establish a team of Facebook marketing interns to monitor and respond to the blog posts we write like this one. Imagine what good PR that would be.
- Launch a team to address the Facebook advertising crisis head on and fix the issues one by one. When a $10 million account goes belly up three days prior to IPO and others follow suit, there’s a problem.
In the publicly traded world, NOTHING is private. And, Facebook? No more back-of-the-envelope weekend deals, CEO-to-CEO, to acquire Instagram-like companies anymore; NOTHING is private.
Image by amboo who? via Creative Commons