CTAM in NY: Harvard's Piskorski: Marketers Are Using Facebook Wrong

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The online world allows for interaction that would not be as easy in the "offline" world, yet most marketers have no idea how to effectively use it.

That was according to Misiek Piskorski, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School during the "Unconventional Social Media" session at CTAM in NY Wednesday.

"At some fundamental level, it's really interesting to see what other people are doing... but in the offline world, it's [a bit] awkward to ask," said Piskorski. "It would be really strange if I asked [a random person], 'What did you do last Saturday, can I see pictures?'"

It's that type of interaction that Facebook allows, but he argues that marketers miss out because they think that setting up fan pages or simply posting ads on the side will do the trick.

Piskorski argues that ads on the side of Facebook pages don't work because people that's not what people are there for. Piskorski said that 70% of Facebook activity is spent "stalking" people (reading status updates, looking at pictures etc.) and don't want to leave the site for an ad.

Facebook pages don't work either because -- as in the case of Best Buy -- their wall was used mainly for complaints. "People know you can't really be ‘friends' with a company," said Piskorski.

Piskorki says that marketers need to tap into the social component of Facebook. He said that companies need to "actively think about ways you can connect people to eachother."

One such company that Piskorski says should be the standard for effectively using Facebook is Zynga, a social network game developer. One of their more popular games, CityVille, allows for each user to build their own online city within Facebook, which can be shared and "visited" by their Facebook friends. The point Piskorski made was that they key component to this game is that to succeed the user has to interact with other Facebook users who play the game (20 million people play every day).

eBay is one of the few companies, as Piskorski noted, that have tapped into the true value of Facebook, by allowing "group" purchases. Users who are signed up can post on their wall that they are trying to buy a particularly expensive item and can ask their Facebook friends (or anyone who can see their profile), to "pitch in" and help pay for the item.

"The online world really helps us to step in and achieve these very simple tasks that effect a lot of people and are very interesting," said Piskorski.