With users now in the range of 200 million, Facebook has become the stethoscope which monitors the pulse of the modern world. But despite a near unlimited amount of potential, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his board of directors refuse to tap into the potential revenues from their presiding ownership over a global online community. Shiv Singh, VP of Razorfish, believes that Facebook is sitting on a gold mine of untapped potential. Singh’s advertising agency pays brand monitoring firms between $5,000 to $40,000 a year for insight into what online consumers are saying about their clients. Singh also says he would pay Facebook twice as much for a similar service.
Facebook has a free service called Lexicon which compiles and analyzes millions of Facebook Wall posts and provides a database of searchable trends. However, people like Shiv Singh are looking for a Lexicon that does much more than just that. Singh outlines a Lexicon that includes these features:
- Ability to type in a brand name and see the amount of conversation about it.
- Ability to compare and contrast two different brand names and the amount of conversation about each brand in relation to the other.
- Ability to narrow brand name research to zip codes, IP addresses, demographics, and interests.
- Ability to view common words brand names are associated with, ie, “Ford” and “cool”.
Providing these services to various companies, agencies, and firms at a fee could prove to be the cash cow Facebook needs. But in truth, how valuable would the service be? While there are no doubt some brand names mentioned on the wall of the average Facebook user, it seems that the most valuable data would be lost in the diction. For example, would the average user say “[Name] thinks her new Apple Mango Tango Gain Fabric Softener smells great!” or would they say “[Name] loves the smell of her new fabric softener!”. Because there would be so much of this, the data mined from Facebook could be insubstantial and also not conducive of actual trends (especially if researchers are filtering the data).
While Facebook might not be the best resource for this kind of research, Twitter might prove to be more than ideal. Frequent Twitter users post their thoughts at a rapid pace, and because of the sheer amount of commentary, there are liable to be more brand names and products mentioned. In addition, Facebook doesn’t seem to have interest in capitalizing on this kind of research. While Facebook sits on the sidelines watching opportunities pass, Twitter could wind up being the resource marketers turn to for the next generation in market research.