There is much that can be written about Facebook’s disastrous IPO last month. Prior to its May 18 launch on NASDAQ, there was excitement on both Wall Street and Main Street with almost everyone wanting a piece of the company thought to be valued at anywhere from $76- $95 billion just days before its IPO. Momentum clearly seemed to be building with newspaper headlines claiming just one day prior to the launch that the sale would create more millionaires and billionaires as well as regional spending booms.
So how did the sizzle turn into a fizzle? And should we have been surprised?
An ominous sign that the offering could be overvalued came on May 16 when The Wall Street Journal reported that General Motors planned to pull its paid advertisements from Facebook. But even before that there were signs that the company was struggling to convince advertisers that it is beneficial for them to advertise through Facebook. One story, which had largely gone underreported until too late, was the company’s failure to connect with the many Facebook users shifting their usage to mobile phones where the company had only just started to sell advertising. Although Facebook had taken efforts since March to advertise on its mobile website, the chart below (measuring the sentiment of all articles within Dow Jones Insight specifically regarding Facebook and mobile phone advertising) shows little unfavourable sentiment practically right up to the IPO even though Facebook itself realized the implications of reaching out to this market too late. Coverage was in fact occasionally positive during weeks in March and April with news articles showing Facebook competing well in mobile ads against Google.
Only ten days prior to the launch was there significant attention paid to Facebook’s struggle to make money from mobile devices. The number of unfavorable news articles rose steadily in the days prior, peaking the week after the IPO (as the value of the stock, which remained virtually the same on the opening day, began to decline) with the sentiment almost entirely negative as the second chart indicates.
So should we have been surprised by such a disappointing performance by Facebook on the day of its IPO? The charts above indicate last minute apprehension by investors regarding Facebook’s ability to generate advertising revenue among an increasing mobile telephone audience, so for users tracking this sentiment through Dow Jones Insight, there probably would have been less of a surprise.
For Facebook, the struggle will remain: the amount of time users spend on the mobile version has now surpassed the time spent on the browser version and advertisers are increasingly uncertain about the effectiveness in advertising through Facebook in any form. (A study indicated that four out of five Facebook users do not buy products or services through the site.) Convincing advertisers not to follow the route of General Motors will be Facebook’s greatest challenge in the months ahead.
For more background, watch the WSJ.com video Unfriended: The Facebook IPO Debacle
Tags: Facebook, General Motors, media analysis, media measurement, Social Media
What did people spend the most mobile phone time doing in the first three months of this year? Using mobile social networking apps. Average daily minutes on social networks increased by 60% versus the same time last year, tying with News and surpassing Games. A new study by Flurry, which provides mobile app developers with usage analytics, was examined by Thomas Loftus for WSJ.com’s CIO Journal, and he recommends that executives developing a social media strategy, “don’t forget to take mobile social into account”.
WSJ.com: New Study Shows Boom in Mobile Social Networking Usage
Tags: Facebook, Flurry, LinkedIn, media strategy, Social Media
These days, mobile should figure into virtually all of your communications programs. Channels used to reach out have become fractionated just as Web 2.0 tactics started to make sense. So, now it’s the mobile channel’s turn. The whole framework of the Web is based around the idea that everything is in a compatible format. Now with iPhone, Android-based devices, Kindles, iPads, Xooms and TVs connecting to the Web, that’s no longer true.
After years of hearing that this year is the year of mobile PR, 2011 will probably be the year. Here’s why:
According to data from Morgan Stanley, global shipments of desktop PCs will have remained virtually flat from 2005 through 2013. And, while notebook PCs will trend up over this same period, smartphones will have overpowered both categories in terms of worldwide shipments by 2013. In fact, it is estimated that next year, global shipments of smartphones will outstrip notebook PCs for the first time. And in countries with savvy technology users, such as Japan, mobile page views are dramatically eclipsing desktop page views.
This is essentially an Internet land grab by mobile devices, especially Apple products like iPhones, iTouchs and iPads, which are ramping up aggressively. Whenever there are major share shifts in technology, there are always big winners — and big losers. Indeed, this should prompt PR professionals to look inward and question whether they are leading or lagging. Are PR pros asleep at the switch? We know the PR industry is still grappling with the shift from traditional media to social media. Making matters more complicated, in comes a whiplash swing to mobile. And unlike their marketing brethren, public relations practitioners have yet to fully exploit mobile’s opportunities. But why is this so if mobile is how people are increasingly consuming media?
Sometimes PR is about how to influence stakeholders without the use of media. Still, according to the findings of a PR Week / CC Group survey (sign in required), respondent data shows that using mobile to reach these influencers can be a complicated business. And significantly, 61% of the 28 tech and business media journalists surveyed said that they prefer desktop tools to mobile ones when it comes to reviewing PR material.
But this may be changing, as there is a growing body of research to support that journalists leverage the blogosphere and social media sites for research and story ideas.
Brevity is bountiful: To be more mobile and global going forward, PR pros need to structure their releases so that they’re shorter, more concise, and with bullet points rather than a release of corporate gobbledygook loaded with every key message. And according to The Hodges Partnership co-founder Jon Newman, marrying “PR with apps … and making sure your Website is optimized for mobile and increasing brand exposure on SM platforms will help you crack mobile devices.”
Almost as important as the message itself is the channel that is being used to push it out. The message is important, but if it doesn’t get out via a medium that will reach your end user and in a format that will be relevant, then the message really doesn’t matter, now does it? If money follows eyeballs in marketing, then influence follows mobile in PR.
Tags: Mobile, Morgan Stanley, PRWeek, Public Relations