A Letter To Facebook From The Rest Of The World

Dear Facebook,

A couple of weeks ago you launched your new location service, Places. We all think it’s great and are really excited that you’re opening up the world of location to a whole new audience. We can’t wait to start finding new and exciting ways of using Places to connect consumers and brands. But we can’t.

The thing is that you’ve dangled this shiny new toy in front of us, but only our American friends get to play with it. And you’ve done this before, with lots of your other new launches, as have your friends Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Twitter, Apple and even MySpace. And we’d really like you to stop doing this.

Whilst we understand that the US is undoubtedly your biggest advertising market, and indeed the world’s biggest advertising market, most of your users live somewhere else (nearly 80% of them in fact.) And many of these countries would be perfect markets to test new products, with populations adopting new technologies like nobody’s business.

Like Sweden, a country with internet penetration of 92% (as opposed to 77% in the US) and the first country in the world where internet ad spend overtook TV. Or Indonesia, which might only have a tiny internet population, but is already one of your 4 biggest markets. Or the UK, where you’re now more popular than any other media brand (apart from the final of X-Factor, but even you can’t compete with Simon Cowell.) Or Italy, where there are 1.5 mobile phones for every person.

We realise that there are some things we have which you don’t (like Spotify or BBC’s iPlayer) but these are for contractual reasons, rather than out of choice. But you see, the thing is, we love the web (hell, it was an Englishman who invented it) and we love you, and all your friends and we’d really love to get a chance to try out some of your new toys before our American cousins. And not only would it make us happy, it would also, for all the sorts of reasons I listed above, give you new audiences to test these services out, before rolling them out in your most profitable market.

Here’s hoping that the next time we write to you, it’s to thank you for making Sweden/Singapore/UK/Japan/Italy/wherever, your newest test market.

All the best,

The World x

PS – if you could pass this on to Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple & MySpace next time you see them, that would be great.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search & Social


About The Author: is the Head of Digital for Mindshare Ireland, as well as holding a global role for the media agency as Director, Emerging Media. At Mindshare he works with both local & multinational clients, helping them to integrate on & offline, and to utilise search, social, mobile & video in their broader marketing mix.

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  • coplandmj

    I don’t really know how much it’s changed in eight years (eight years yesterday!), but I was stunned when I moved to the US how behind many of the rest of us they were in adoption of technology. In 2002, none of my university peers used text messaging. None. Some people may view this as a good thing; it certainly made you make more phone calls, but for an 18 year old who’d used SMS for three years already, it really changed the way I communicated. It wasn’t until much later–2005 or 2006–when people really got into using mobile phones.

    The mobile phones we used in New Zealand were pretty awful, but we did somewhat beta test a lot of their uses quite early on. In fact, New Zealand took to online communication pretty quickly, it seemed, as many people appeared to realise that it was a big barrier-buster for a very small country, three and a half hours away from its closest neighbours. Sadly, I believe that this is no longer the case, according to friends and my parents who still live there.

    Facebook and other online services could well see a higher uptake from smaller audiences. And besides, at one point didn’t London have the highest Twitter usage per head of population of any city, anywhere?

    Anyhow, although I’ve got absolutely no interest in using Facebook Places (Ciaran is in the pub. Ciaran is in his flat. Ciaran is playing Farmville :p), I reckon we could do beta testing justice and agree we should get the chance :)

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    To be fair, Google did give the old British Empire Broad Match Modifiers before we got it in the states :-)

  • http://marketingtenerife.com Leslie Beeson

    Yes its shocking the liberties those new worlders take! Makes me think of one of those old maps of China where the rest of the world is depicted as a tiny little squggles of irrelevance on the peripheries.

  • Ruth_OL

    Hear hear! It’s really annoying to keep reading about great new features on pretty well every big-brand site and then find that you can’t use any of them. The combined European market must be huge, and yet we constantly get hobbled versions (hello Bing!) with seemingly no prospect of ever seeing the full-featured one. Why should we have to beg for the privilege of being a beta tester? Why can’t they just launch the thing in multiple territories? I understand that in some circumstances there may be legal or contractual difficulties (such as with the marvellous BBC iPlayer), but mostly it just seems like they don’t really understand or care that we exist.

    Hey! Stop being so parochial! Don’t you want our money?

  • http://www.itamer.com sarahk

    coplandmj is right!

    When I did the standard Kiwi thing and worked in the UK back in ’90 & ’91 I had a job setting up eftpos terminals at Shell petrol stations. Most were upgrading from basic tills and even shoe boxes. I was stunned, we’d had integrated pump->eftpos systems in NZ “forever”.

    We also used to be the test bed for consumer products. Get it wrong in NZ and its no drama, get in wrong in the US and you kill your brand. We’re a small but educated country with a western culture that is close enough to both the UK and US to be a valuable test bed.

    One classic example was a laundry detergent which turned clothes gray (go figure). Even once they’d ironed the problems out and launched worldwide they couldn’t sell it down here.

    Wouldn’t it be great if the big social networking sites used us for testing. Think of the fun we could have :)

    Better still, just roll out worldwide… surely it takes more effort to restrict functionality?


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