Posts Tagged ‘contextoptional’

If your company has a dearth of resources and wants to set up a custom page or application on Facebook, it becomes necessary to look for a technology partner. There is a big difference between custom pages and the wall – everything on the wall shows up automatically in feeds, while content on custom pages needs to have a “Share” button for users to post on their profile. One limitation of the Share button is that a pop-up comes up for the user to post on their profile – if users have disabled pop-ups, it is unlikely that they will be able to share at all. This makes the wall a very powerful tool, but most of the focus of partners is on the custom page because this is what brands want to use as their “face”.

In Dec 2009, Facebook published a list of its preferred developer consultant program, and the site promotes this list as a starting point for companies looking to establish a Facebook presence in partnership with a developer. The list is very long, and differentiation between partners low. Several criteria come to mind when picking the right partner.

Facebook is booming, but this boom will last only so long. Many developer consultants have been launched by very young entrepreneurs, and the longevity of these partners is questionable. While researching partners for my company, “going concern” was top of mind for me. I wanted to make sure that we did not invest in a company that may not be around for long. Since barriers to entry are low, so many developers exist and it is very difficult to differentiate among their services, because they all say “we can do whatever you want us to.” Hence long-term prospect is key. The best way to assess this is — for how long has the company been around, who are its clients, who are the founders, and how much investment has the company obtained. Pricing (set-up and monthly maintenance), time to launch, internal and external efforts required, challenges, “click” with the company, proprietary interface, ease of use of the interface, details surrounding changes to custom pages and applications, and tracking are some key factors. One factor I explored was location, since it was preferable that the partner be local.

A freelance can set up a custom Facebook page or application for as little as $500 to $1,000. Larger partners may cost from $20K to $75K to $100K+. I attended the IAB social media event in NY to meet several partners and came away with a wealth of information and contacts. I love all IAB events, and have never had a problem getting a free pass from them. I explored the below developers.

Context Optional: This is among one of the top partners for Facebook, and a friend is using them for her company. They can pretty much do anything you want them to, and given the large number of clients they can come up with good examples of pages. Their fees are reasonable as well.

Always Be Social: I set up a presentation with Always Be Social. The sales team seemed friendly and nice, but it just did not seem to be a good fit. They did not have a lot of examples, so it was difficult to assess their value.

Sprout: I quite liked Sprout’s presentation at IAB and their Alice in Wonderland dynamic ads. I got along quite well with the sales person as well.

Buddy Media: They were at the top of my list simply because they have a proprietary interface and a lot of experience in retail. While I felt that their ready interface and high price limited the level of creativity and viral component that we could add, given limited resources on our end and short timeline we did not want to expend much effort on launch. They were the best fit.

Brand Networks: I reviewed this partner as well, but do not recall my discussion. This was the case with most partners – they had such similar services that I could not recall details and differences except with a select few.

Vitrue: Every single partner I spoke to cited Vitrue as their biggest competitor, and seemed impressed with their service. I liked them, but had a hard time understanding whether they were a good fit because of few examples. The differentiating factor here is that using their tool you can use apps on the wall and track them. They also offer localization which is used by McDonald’s. I just wish they were able to show me more examples and give me enough “meat” to justify using them versus Buddy Media.

Fluid: I really liked Fluid. Their focus is on websites rather than Facebook, and Facebook services are an extension for their site services. They designed the amazing Timberland’s customized boots website. They also use Facebook Connect effectively on sites coupled with product reviews.

Wildfire App: This was an okay partner – not much differentiation but willing to negotiate on price.

Involver: I liked Involver, but what stood out to me is their positioning in the marketplace. They tout their technology as their key product, and have been asked by Facebook to design their Homepage. They kept stressing on technology. But they were selling to a marketer, not a technologist, so to me their pitch had the opposite effect. I am all for technology, but what is the use of spending on a custom page when you don’t have a strategy to increase fan base. I was looking for a company that had a strong base for marketing rather than just technology. They do have good clients though, so obviously their model works.

Allurent: This is similar to Fluid in that they focus on website tools and offer Facebook tools as an extension for a small fee. They had good tools, but I liked Fluid better.

Brickfish: I don’t see Brickfish on Facebook’s preferred list even though they have an impressive clientele. I attended their presentation at IAB. They built a very successful app for Coach. Their services are good, but their sales pitch left much to be desired. If they are able to find sales people passionate about their technology and brands they have worked with, it will make a big difference to their pitch. They have received a lot of free PR – Coach presented their work at the WWD Social Media event – Brickfish needs to find a way to leverage this.

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