Facebook Marketing: The Washington Post Seeks to Crack the SocialCode

ScreenHunter_02 Jan. 20 09.54

It’s been an active week for The Washington Post Co. First, it added to its portfolio of vertical sites with the launch of Service Alley. Now, it is hatching a subsidiary brand — SocialCode — to act as a full-service Facebook marketing agency. First and foremost an advertising service, it will also specialize in hard-to-hold applications such as social commerce, fan monetization and competitive analysis.

The idea of a media company diversifying into integrated marketing is nothing new. Tribune Co.’s 435 Digital and GannettLocal both have expanded marketing efforts beyond their own proprietary products to further leverage relationships with local clients. In Tribune’s case, this includes social media optimization and monitoring. Similarly, this past April, McClatchy struck a search marketing partnership with third-party reseller WebVisible.

The concept of a company planting its entire stake on top of Facebook has already gained ample traction, too. Marketing agencies such as Buddy Media, social commerce-enabling middleware providers such as Adgregate Markets and Payvment, and promotions builders such as Wildfire are all tethering themselves to the network.

What is new is the notion of a traditional media company rooting itself entirely in Facebook. However, taking into account Facebook’s 650 million global users and recent estimates pointing to $1.2 billion in domestic ad revenues in 2010 (the majority coming from smaller businesses, the kind that a media company like The Washington Post may have established local relationships with), a singular focus on the big F makes more sense.

Then there’s the personal angle. Post CEO Don Graham serves on Facebook’s board, and his daughter, Laura Graham O’Shaughnessy, is leading SocialCode.

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