What Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz and Facebook Can Tell Us About Engagement

Did you see the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress presentations at the Oscars? This year they tried a new format in which five former winners take the stage and each in turn speaks to one of the nominees. More than their male counterparts, the women winners spoke from the heart. And in almost every case the nominated actress seemed on the verge of tears (Best Supporting Actress nominee Viola Davis clearly wept). Each seemed genuinely affected by her peer's personally and intimately expressed admiration. A hundred million of us were eavesdropping on these tender moments.

In a way Facebook is like that, I am discovering. And it is leading the way to deep connections that really define "engagement" for any Web publisher willing to learn. Facebook is showing us the potential for people to reach each other in unexpected ways. People who seek and find us there and can then engage us in ways that really transcend traditional Web site experiences.

I say this because of several experiences I have had on Facebook over the past month.

When I was in sixth grade, I was crazy about the girl who sat next to me, but I didn't think she could possibly have the same feelings about me. When Mrs. Rothaar changed everyone's seats, the girl sent me a note through an intermediary, Sheila, who was now sitting next to me. The note said, "Do you like me?" I turned around and saw her sheepishly smiling. After recovering from a brief but intense panic attack, I sent back a note that told her I did. Ah, first love!

Last week I got another note from her. This time the intermediary was not Shelia, though. It was Facebook.

Facebook is affecting my life in ways I wouldn't have imagined just a few short months ago. In addition to the innocent hello from my first flame, I have had a dialogue with a cousin I haven't seen in 25 years. And based on these two compelling connections, I reached out to a guy I was close to in high school but haven't seen since graduation. And I have had a series of chats with a friend whom I haven't seen since I was 11 years old. We told each other our about our lives since childhood, and I had a chance to make amends for some things that I was not surprised he remembered well. All these years later -- we were friends again.

And when I tell people in the media business about these Facebook moments, I find that I am hardly alone.

My experiences with Facebook over the past month are probably old-hat to my nephews in college and the most passionate users of the site. But they tell me that at as it approaches 200 million members worldwide (probably tripling the viewership of the Oscars!) Facebook is only in its infancy of potential.



When you think about the metrics that matter most to people in this business -- audience reach, composition and engagement -- you realize that there is no site in the world that will be able to compete with Facebook in delivering results to advertisers. Who will have greater reach? Who will know more about who comes to their site? And Facebook no doubt will become the master teacher of what engagement really means. The best online media companies -- those that know a passionate audience is their raison d'etre -- will be the ones who learn these lessons well.

6 comments about "What Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz and Facebook Can Tell Us About Engagement".
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  1. Sherry Heyl, February 26, 2009 at 12:13 p.m.

    Good post about how our experiences on Facebook shows our media empowers relationships and relationships can power transactions.

    Facebook's growth is a launching point to the rest of web will be like in a few short years - which means do not look at Facebook as the end all be a friend told me recently - Facebook is equivalent to what AOL was 10+ years ago...

    Sherry Heyl

  2. Lisbeth Kramer from Identities, February 26, 2009 at 12:29 p.m.

    I so applaud your piece!

    Personally, this is my overall issue as a VERY impassioned marketer, and integrating much for a long time.........this whole aspect of cool as twitter is, for me, the piece that is missing is the true EXCHANGE, a REAL connection..and I believe that is what any great brand emerging or icon has to fulfill on as a "brand." To me in the 21st century, that old school definition, "a brand is a promise..." well I think today, it certainly need to stand by product, but a thriving brand, I see as " a deep connection" with its audience, but I mean connection not, tap on the shoulder...

    While I must admit, I have not even built my FB to where it needs to be............i think any lasting RELATIONSHIP (this the defining term???) has to be built on ENGAGED, AUTHENTIC connect...


  3. Patricia Kirby from Radius Magazine, February 26, 2009 at 1:14 p.m.

    I can certainly see how Facebook reaches out to old friends and lost school mates, but I must admit I am still perplexed as to how it can help reach clients and advertisers. I wish someone would explain this idea completely.

  4. Daniel Bader from jackpot ventures, February 26, 2009 at 1:22 p.m.

    " realize that there is no site in the world that will be able to compete with Facebook in delivering results to advertisers." Wait a minute, not so fast....
    My fledgling site, although although only 6 months old and still in its infancy, has already attracted regularly returning members in 94 different countries around the world, with no advertising, no SEO or search engine placement. Unlike Facebook, members to my site can only have 1 account (and that's verifiable). And the information my members provide is as pure as the driven snow. You see, my site can and will generate 3x - 4x the ad frequency of Facebook - and to a captured audience. The total membership market universe for my site is in the many hundreds of millions and crosses nearly every demographic. So now, I've got to get back to work so I can prove to you that one should be careful when they make such predictions as site will ever be able to compete' with Facebook. Feel free to check it out. And while you're at it, try it out because it's free to join... just like Facebook...MyFreeLotteryPool.Com

  5. Monica Bower from TERiX Computer Service, February 26, 2009 at 1:44 p.m.

    Marketers, unfortunately, are too often prostitutes. We have no interest in a relationship and would actually find it tiresome; what we want is to get paid. In a nutshell this is why agencies and advertisers fail (call it what it is, an epic fail). Only four comments and already one is about the money and one is selling something else, though at least there's some reason to sell it here in context. Too often there isn't even the thinnest of connections between the advertising and the viewer; I don't mean that since I knit, I need to see ads for yarn (though it's a good idea). What I mean by connection is a willingness to actually relate to the customer in a way we normally reserve only for business partners. In the new economy our customers are in it with us; and it's very hard for a customer to love a prostitute, certainly impossible on any lengthy timeline.

    We have to change the way we think as marketers when it comes to social media, because this isn't about the media, its about how our customers RELATE to the media, and more importantly how they relate to each other within the media. Maybe you have a product that allows them to relate to you too, directly, as a 'friend' on facebook or a follower on twitter. Maybe your relationship will be more oblique. Either way no other media even resembles this one, so get used to not wrangling it the way you wrangle the other media.

  6. Bruce Christensen from PartyWeDo, February 26, 2009 at 3:52 p.m.

    Engagement like what you experienced on Facebook is indeed a powerful tool for marketers. Your journey back into Memory Lane is part of the magic that Facebook and other networks deliver. This "memory enhancement" may be why so many Baby Boomers are moving into this space.
    Our family stays engaged on the internet during memorable life-events, even though we are scattered across the country. Last Christmas we were riveted online for 19-days, making over 700 comments and sharing nearly 100 images.
    Our family memories are expanding thanks to the social networks like Facebook.

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