It doesn’t seem possible that I recently celebrated the 10 year anniversary of publishing Facebook Marketing An Hour a Day.
The book was something I had not intended to write – but opportunity knocked. I had worked with Wiley Publishing as part of my role as Business Manager in the Developer Tools Division of Microsoft over the course of several years. I developed some tremendous relationships there, and we tried to do some ambitious things together between the two companies circa 2005-2006.
In 2008, I told them I was leaving Microsoft to create my fourth startup – as my passions were more in the startup world than the corporate world. The folks at Wiley said “hey we could really use a good book on this emerging Facebook platform – would you be willing to write it?”
No brainer – it was a bucket list concept to write a book, but one that came unexpectedly and not when I thought it would happen. That’s life I suppose!
Writing the book itself proved to be a challenge. I was probably more used to writing blog and short-form content. Writing thousands of words a day simply didn’t come naturally to me at first. Additionally, I was starting my company at the time and had some full days both writing/conceptualizing a book, collaborating with my co-author Mari Smith, and getting my company off the ground.
But eventually the writing and editing cycles wound down, and we had a book ready for the market in May 2010.
Being that it was one of the first books on Facebook Marketing in existence – AND we were still in an era where people turned to books for knowledge – the book hit the market at a great time. Over 18 months, we sold over 30,000 copies and we were asked to write a second edition. There were many speaking engagements and conferences to attend. It wasn’t a world I really loved, but it was nonetheless a fascinating experience.
Aside from writing the definitive guide to Facebook marketing for a good 12-18 months, I’m probably most proud of our popularizing the term “editorial calendar” in marketing circles. We drew a comparison to businesses needing to create their own magazine of sorts on social media, and suggested companies talk to customers on a regular basis with editorial deadlines and regular features. I’d like to think we helped popularize the concept – and at the time of publication, I was unable to find any other references to that term. So maybe we achieved that. I’m glad we were able to help people figure it out in the early days.
We had to cover a lot of ground in the book – including long sections on viral marketing and free exposure. I’d probably have preferred writing a book on advertising alone. It never did impress me as a long-term strategy to rely on Facebook – a soon to be publicly traded company – to offer free marketing to companies forever.
In the course of writing the book, my company became an official Facebook Marketing Partner. We’ve worked closely with them, attended their Partner conferences, seen their priorities change, and watched them roll out new Partner initiatives. It’s been a rollercoaster ride but one I’ve witnessed from the front row.
If I had to write a third edition of the book today, it would be all about advertising. Today, it’s almost impossible to make something go viral on Facebook as the company has become an advertising behemoth. So the tactics would certainly tilt way more to the paid media side of the house today than the branding/page maintenance/social presence part of the problem. It’s not that those things aren’t important – it’s just that they deserve so little time, attention, and budget today relative to paid social advertising.
What would a Third Edition of Facebook Marketing An Hour a Day cover today? There are so many issues that are so different than what marketers faced in 2010:
- How should you look at Facebook in the context of the other two digital ad giants, Amazon and Google? What should be used when, and how do you prioritize your ad dollar?
- What is the minimum viable “social presence”, and when should you invest more time, effort, and energy into something more complicated?
- How do you use custom audiences in light of modern privacy standards and laws? And how does GDPR affect what you should do as a company or international brand? An e-commerce company selling everywhere? A multi-unit retailer?
- In what scenarios should you optimize for Instagram over the Facebook experience?
- What kind of data can you collect to better optimize your advertising? Are there things you can do to partner with your CIO to ensure that Facebook advertising remains profitable and critical to the top/bottom line?
- Should you trust Facebook’s budget optimization technology? Or should you do your own thing? Why is Facebook apparently stepping back from it at least today?
- What did Facebook do with its Partner Program after all? And what does that mean for working with agencies and third-party advertising technology providers?
- What should your all-up marketing technology stack include? What can you ignore? What is a must have?
- What types of expertise are needed for what kinds of problems? When should you outsource vs. build teams and expertise in house?
- And overall, have you missed the boat on Facebook? What can you do on a smaller budget if that’s your situation?
Maybe there is another book to write after all. Nah – I’m done writing books for now. These conversations are saved for clients.
But in all seriousness, our book was about the 2010s and the coming of age of a platform. The 2020s are about how Facebook matures and about how you as a marketer can take full advantage. I’m not sure what we’ll be saying in a decade, but hopefully a human’s thoughts on the matter will still be relevant? 😉