I had the pleasure of learning more about Facebook yesterday directly from Facebook. I interviewed Melanie Dietch, Facebook Director of Marketing, as part of my new “The Real Deal” Interview Series (see “Facebook talks ‘The Real Deal’ in exclusive interview”).
While not “face to face,” my discussion by phone was informative and left me with the impression that Facebook is confidently pursuing its stand alone social media opportunities regardless of external “noise” about “rumored” acquisition offers.
Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ross Levinsohn, President of Fox Interactive Media, owner of MySpace (see “FIM Ross Levinsohn on MySpace in ‘Real Deal’ exclusive interview”).
Several weeks ago I was honored to welcome Kevin Rose, Founder and Chief Architect, Digg, as my inaugural interviewee (see Digg: Kevin Rose talks ‘The Real Deal’ in exclusive interview”).
All three professionals are passionate about their missions and evangelize an inherent appeal of user generated content to virally power massive and monetizable Web site traffic.
Don Dodge, Microsoft Emerging Business Team, puts forth today: “Facebook worth more than YouTube?” Dodge contacted me asking for my take on the question.
A more universal question with greater ramifications, however, is “Is a start-up, stand-alone, free-to-the-consumer, user-generated viral networking site worth the risk?”
In “MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Digg = $17.7 billion ‘voodoo exuberance’?” last week, I traced the risks:
What will $17.7 billion in “voodoo” worth yield “lucky” takers?
Hundreds of millions of non-paying teenage, student and under 34 year old users,
Continuously escalating bandwidth and infrastructure costs,
Millions of potential copyright infringement claims,
Uncontrolled sexual and anti-social behaviors,
Low production quality amateur content,
No proprietary technology,
No proprietary content…
What will the “exuberant” “lucky” owners be faced with?
Advertising averse non-paying users,
No non-paying user loyalty,
No barriers to competitive entrants,
Legal oversight and regulatory compliance,
The next big fad …
The Yahoo – Facebook story of most significance is not if/when/how Yahoo may buy the Facebook social networking site. Yahoo is indeed on a social networking mission, but not exclusively the one that incites passionate debate.
Yahoo is embarking on a concerted campaign to reassert what it believes is its under appreciated leadership position in social networking. I witnessed the campaign in action this morning at the Shop.org ecommerce conference in New York City.
Yahoo literally “interrupted” regularly scheduled conference programming to make a direct pitch to the 2000 plus retail marketers in attendance that Yahoo is the social media vehicle of choice for their brand messages.
A Yahoo representative was invited to the podium in-between morning featured events to put forth the Yahoo “Social Media Marketing” agenda:
Yahoo asserted that user generated content is “today’s self-expression” and that Yahoo is the destination of choice for users to “create content and consume content of peers.” Yahoo invited retail marketers to embrace content “produced by ordinary people” and “get influence on your side” via Yahoo Answers, Yahoo 360…
Yahoo estimates that every “one” creator of content leads to ten synthesizers of content and then 100 coveted consumers.
Yahoo’s concluding exhortation? Yahoo can make “your” brand part of “their” identities.
Will Yahoo buy Facebook? Ask Yahoo answers!