Industry Perspectives: Q&A with Roy Pereira and Colin Smillie of Refresh Partners

As more brands seek to establish a presence within Facebook, a number of social media agencies are helping to bring brands into the fold via the Facebook application platform.

Refresh Partners is one such agency based in downtown Toronto, Ontario. The company was founded in May 2007, and has focused on the opportunities for marketers in the social networking space, particularly on Facebook. We spoke with managing partners Roy Pereira and Colin Smillie to learn more.

Roy and Colin, thanks for your time. Can you give us a little background on Refresh Partners?

Sure – we founded the company in 2007. We both have marketing backgrounds, and we basically came at social networking from a marketer’s point of view.  We started looking at what was happening in Facebook in terms of them opening up with their framework, and we realized that this was going to be huge for marketer’s to gain access to all those millions of users and to really interact with them instead of just posting a simple banner. We originally decided to focus on Facebook, because that seemed to be the number one interactive social network.

At the same time, we started looking at coming up with a Facebook developers garage up in Toronto. There is a lot of interest in Facebook in the area, and we started to see a lot of Facebook developers popping out of the woodwork. We held the the first FaceBookCampToronto in August 2007, and we’ve done four altogether, usually seeing over 400 attendees.

What services do you provide?

We have three core business units. The major one is really application development, or marketing in social networks. We mostly do Facebook apps, but we have done MySpace and we are getting some more interest on the OpenSocial platforms. We work with a marketing agency or just a client that has an idea and we take their concept or we build a concept for them and we make sure that its viral and that it will be successful in the social network, and then we build it. For example, we recently launched the Poll-a-Rizer application for Burger King.

We have one property that we manage called Dogbook, and we also manage other customers’ applications on an on-going basis. For Dogbook, we currently manage both the advertising and the overall strategy for growing the application.

Finally, we offer Refresh Analytics, which is a fully featured analytics tool for application developers. We tie it in to our branded apps, and we’ve found that marketing agencies love that data. We’ve added an API that allows advertising networks to actually plug into our analytics engine and pick up data, and we have one large advertising network that is actually using Refresh Analytics as the gatherer of data for their network. Our current goal is to get as many publishers as possible to use Refresh Analytics in its free state, and we will plan on offering future value add features.

How has the recent Facebook profile redesign affected your business?

With Dogbook we were on a traffic incline prior to the new profile, and obviously that change affected a number of applications and we are starting to recover from that. We saw a straight line decline from Sept. 10 to Sept 13, and these days we’re far below normal traffic lows. We are seeing some uptick, but we haven’t reached the pre-new profile levels yet.

What parts of your business are you the most bullish on?

We are really bullish on the branded apps side. We are expanding our team in both development and sales. Right now branded apps are still very hot, and we expect them to be hot next year as well. We are also very confident on the Refresh Analytics side, especially given the strategy that we have going forward for some of these features that we plan on adding to it. Finally, we’ve been doing work with Facebook Connect as well and we see it is an exciting opportunity to bring apps outside the Facebook box.