Social Capital + Facebook Photos = Advertising Nirvana?

While on Facebook this afternoon I stumbled across a few funny photos where someone had apparently used Photoshop to add UGG boots to a number of their friends’ pictures. In other cases, they had taken photos of celebrities wearing UGGs and added their friends faces. The results (pictured below) are comical but also suggestive of innovative advertising opportunities that brands would do well to consider…



A couple thoughts:

-Brands could easily build an application allowing their products to be mixed and matched on friend’s images (accessorize your friends).

-Brands could work with Facebook to create images of their products overlaid semi-transparently on photos. Imagine an UGG advertisement actually being the image of a pair of boots superimposed on a photo you are viewing. In this case, UGG’s would be superimposed on all your friend’s feet until you “x” out of the fake boots in order to view an ‘un-altered’ photo. Done well, the product placements might not even hinder the photo viewing experience

-Seeing your face superimposed on celebrities is fun and inherently viral. If the celebrity happens to be wearing UGGs, that’s genius marketing

-Eventually brands might compensate or ‘pay’ users in virtual gifts if brands are allowed to ‘doctor’ profile images or create social advertisements featuring a user’s photo with the brand’s product added into the background

This last point is important because it also highlights a trend I expect we will see more and more. While many web applications are beginning to embrace virtual currencies swapped between users, I think currencies get even more interesting when a third-party (advertiser) can get involved. eBay and Etsy have proven that by empowering users to with a platform to produce income, a businesses can achieve epic virality and engagement. Digg has a black market where users get paid to provide Diggs and strategy.

To quote from a recent comment on Howard Lindzon’s blog: “We need to start recognizing customers as assets”…

It is amazing how fast the world changes. 50 years ago the biggest asset for most companies was their equipment. 15 years ago the biggest assets for most companies were their employees. Today, in 21st century – the time of social networks, the biggest assets for new companies are their customers. All this suggests that an entirely new revenue models need to be created – models, where customers give and receive back something of higher value than their own contribution. The new companies’ role is to bring together people, who are able and willing to help each other. But how are they going to profit out of this? – by sharing profits with their customers.

I expect that brands looking to leverage the social capital of their customers will be a major trend going into 2009

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