For the past couple years, Bill Masterson has served as sales director at Facebook, but left to join Washington Post-owned social agency SocialCode as its chief revenue officer last week. Less than a week on the job, he spoke with Adweek about the decision to leave Facebook; Facebook’s, Twitter’s and LinkedIn’s growing marketing developer communities; and what impact a reported Twitter Ads API could have.
Adweek: Someone leaving Facebook is definitely not unheard of, but it’s always a bit surprising. What brought you to SocialCode?
I’ve definitely gotten that question over the last five days [since starting at SocialCode]. Those “people leaving Facebook” stories seem to get a lot of traction, but in reality I think they have probably the lowest attrition rates in the industry. But really what brought me out is the way that Facebook is embracing the Preferred Marketing Developers community [of which SocialCode is a Strategic PMD member]. Facebook’s really embracing that a lot more. More and more of the shift and the media innovation that’s happening in social in general—not just on Facebook, but with what LinkedIn’s opening up, with what I think Twitter is going to be opening up this year—is just really starting to take off. So when I had the opportunity to talk to SocialCode, when I understood the innovation they’re doing, the stats they have on customers and what they’ve done over the last year, it just became a really interesting opportunity.
Now that you’re on a different side of the table from where you sat at Facebook, what’s some of the feedback you’d heard from advertisers then that you can now apply at SocialCode?
Good question. Advertisers want to know how to engage more. We’ve gone through this era where who had the most fans was the way you won the rep internally. Now they really want to understand more about customers; how to use the platform not just for branding but for [direct-response]; how they can use their fan bases to understand their customers, get word of mouth, get more customers, get information faster than they could through more traditional focus groups.
Before your focus was solely on Facebook, but SocialCode spans Twitter and LinkedIn as well. What learnings can you apply to those other social networks?
I think the big things that Facebook has are identity, how mobile those people are and the massive scale that they have. An important part is how we’re able to cross what Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn bring to the table in the sense of what the psychological commitment is to following somebody versus fanning somebody. What we can do with LinkedIn as far as finding business people that have certain roles, I don’t know what that Venn diagram is going to look like. But I think it’s really interesting if the platforms open up enought that we can start to look at those both separately and together.
Anecdotally at least, it seems advertisers are more familiar with advertising on Facebook than on Twitter or LinkedIn. Can you help change that?
I hope so. I guess on Day 5 it’s still TBD. I guess the reason why Facebook has been the biggest to date is that they were the first one to have APIs open. They’re also the biggest one, and I also think frankly they’ve done the most to answer some of the initial questions marketers have out there, like “Does social work?” That’s clearly been answered “yes” in the past year-plus. As we look at Twitter and LinkedIn, who are just opening up their APIs now, what I hope to be able to bring is an understanding of not just what you’re getting for the fixed CPM or bidded CPM that you put into the platform itself and pay for but also how the pieces connect on the viral side, on word of mouth, on getting more followers and fans.
Facebook has both a developer program as well as an Ads API. Over the last few months Twitter and LinkedIn are following either one strategy or the other. Does one work better than the other?
The developer programs encompass people developing apps, publishing tools, insights platforms and ad platforms. So I think the developer program is more holistic. I don’t think that across all platforms I could say that app development is more or less valuable than being able to run media the right way. I think you’ll probably run into circumstances on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn where the answer is different. I think you’ll also run into brands where the answer is different. I’ve worked with brands who had almost their entire strategy tied to an application at one point in time and then over the course of learning and getting data back in, their strategy started to pivot to page publishing and resonance and engagement. I think it’s the full picture you have to understand to be valuable to the partner. The thing is that the platform can only go so far. They can’t please everybody with one solution.
SocialCode works with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but are there any others you guys are taking a look at?
We are excited and interested in talking to and in some cases have already had conversations with anybody that covers into this space. We look at the space as holistic, not just the Big 2 or Big 3 or Big 10. As those companies are able to bring APIs, we definitely want to evaluate those and write into them where it makes sense.
You’ve been on the job for less than a week, but any business plans for 2013?
At the highest level, it’s just to continue to build out our intelligence and ad management products. You’re familiar with our Community Optics product, which allows marketers better insights into their fan bases and their interests; we’re looking at doing similar stuff with page publishing to provide deeper insight into what page publishing is resonating best.