A Journey into the Offices of Facebook with Eric Forman
By Daniel Denning
On Thursday, February 5th, the Newhouse NYC students taking COM 400: Social Platforms, Process, and Perspectives (aka the Social Media class) had the opportunity to visit the Facebook office at 770 Broadway. We were hosted by Eric Forman, CSM of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook and a Newhouse alumn (ADV ‘11). He shared a lot of insights about the continuing importance of Facebook and how it’s used by advertisers. As an Advertising major myself, it was a really eye-opening experience to hear him talk.
When the doors opened, we found ourselves in Facebook’s stocked kitchen area. As soon as Eric encouraged us to take snacks, we crowded the food shelf and fridge and took our pickings of everything from veggie chips and Kit Kats to soda and iced tea. After a full day of interning, it’s amazing how happy some snacks can make a group of fatigued college students.
Stocked up on food and drinks, we approached a work area brimming with computers. It was after 6:30PM, so with the exception of a few stragglers, most employees had already left the office for the day. Those still around didn’t appear to be bothered or surprised at all by us 25 curious strangers.
Then we settled in a conference room and were treated to free Facebook merchandise: T-shirts, water bottles, and clay mugs!
Then, Eric’s presentation began. He opened by saying Newhouse is the reason he has his current position and assured us that we “are at the right school.” However, he also told us to enjoy our college experience while it is still unfolding because the real world is “infinitely harder.” That’s when he described his journey from Syracuse University to Facebook. It all started when he got a job out of college at a media agency through a connection he made during his time at Newhouse. He worked with digital media for AT&T, which is where he learned the ropes and gained enough knowledge about the field to propel himself into a career at Facebook.
At Facebook, he works on both big and small clients, mostly in the consumer tech sphere, and assists them with their Facebook ad campaigns. Something interesting we learned is why Facebook is such a good platform for these brands to advertise on. “On Facebook, you can accumulate reach quickly and reach people across platforms,” he said. Essentially, this means Facebook is better than say, a TV commercial, because it reaches a much larger percentage of a brand’s target audience and is able to reach them on more than one device (i.e. both a person’s computer and smartphone).
He also shared a lot of technical knowledge about digital advertising, including a really user-friendly explanation of the concept of attribution. There is no way I could explain it as clearly as him (mostly because he used the whiteboard pictured to the right), but in simplest terms, it is the question of which ad gets credit for making a consumer make a purchase. How do brands know that a consumer saw an ad on his phone if he makes the purchase on his computer? It is something Facebook is working hard on. As an advertising geek, this extremely technical information was so intriguing to me.
Finally, he shared some insight about Facebook’s work culture. Some choice quotes that I personally love include:
- “Nobody has an office here at Facebook.”
- “It is a culture built on trust and openness.”
- “Scaling and maintaining the company and not becoming a corporate drone is something we are all about.”
The trip ended with a visit to the real life Facebook wall, which everyone got to sign.
It was such an amazing experience both to hear Eric speak, as well as to simply be in the office where so much cutting-edge work is done. To anyone considering Newhouse NYC in the future, I highly recommend taking COM 400, if only for this field trip and the others we’ll be going on. I will be recapping them throughout the semester (stay tuned for Twitter next month!).
For a play-by-play of the event, check out the @NewhouseNYC Twitter account to see the live tweet session of the event done by my fellow advertising student, Lauren Newfield.