Facebook Matches the Meteoric Rise of Internet Giants Google and Yahoo

facebookSocial networking giant, Google, hit $2 billion in annual revenues in a shorter time than Yahoo!, and at a pace only slightly slower than Google posted in its giddy ascent from a garage-based startup to crown jewel of the Internet. BusinessWeek reports that Facebook is well on track to match truly ‘Googlesque’ numbers.

Facebook is a privately held company and as such is not required to disclose financial data, yet BusinessWeek reports that revenues for Faceboook will hit $2 billion in 2010, up from a previous forecast of roughly $1.5 billion revenues earlier this year. With its founder, Mark Zuckenberg, being named Time magazine’s “Man of the Year,” this is truly the year that Facebook, and social media in general, came into its own, a trend that big business has noted.

“The love affair of consumers with social networks is an abiding one,” Karsten Weide, an analyst at IDC, told BusinessWeek. “All the big brands are there.”

“Facebook’s more than half a billion users,” BusinessWeek notes, “have made it an attractive target for [deep-pocketed] advertisers, including Coca-Cola Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Adidas AG.”

Facebook surpassed Yahoo! Inc. in terms of the number of global users in October, BusinessWeek reports, replacing it in the “Big Three” of Internet destinations behind only Google and Microsoft, according to user statistics recently released by ComScore Inc., a research firm based in Reston, Virginia.

The much bandied-about statistic, however, is that Facebook’s 500,000-odd members “post a billion pieces of content, such as photos and messages every day,” a figure Time notes in its cover page article about Mr. Zuckenberg. The sheer volume of users and the content they produce acts as a very powerful magnet for advertisers, large and small.

Its two billion dollars (and rising) of annual revenue is also reportedly drawing the attention of investors. “The company has a valuation of $43.1 billion,” BusinessWeek reports, citing numbers from SharesPost Inc., an exchange for privately held stocks. “That’s up more than 60 percent from three months ago,” they report, “and almost quadruple the level in March.”

At that price, and with that pace of revenue growth, it is difficult to say what (if any) company can realistically eye Facebook as a potential merger or acquisition target. Google, of course, has $33 billion sitting in cash reserves, but any Google/Facebook coupling would kick up an even bigger regulatory dust storm than raised by Microsoft in its epic anti-trust battles with federal regulators and prosecutors during the 1990’s.

What’s next, then, for Facebook and its social networking wunder-kind CEO? Only time will tell . . . and 2011 is likely to be that time.

James Barry covers social media marketing and related topics for Wolf21.com, a Toronto-based firm offering a full line of SEO services.

Branding With Facebook

facebookFacebook is the second most popular website in the world. If you really want to raise your brand awareness or sell your products and services then you need to be on Facebook. That’s it, you can stop reading now because this is all I am going to tell you. Well not really, there is lot to mention but the message is the same, get your business on Facebook.

I call it the Book of Face because marketing your business is all about your brand and your brand is the face of your business.

Marketing

Advertising on Facebook is great value for money because you can define your demographic and market only to them. Let’s say your target demographic is Australian males in Post code 2250, aged between 35 and 45, Facebook let’s you display adverts only to people that fall into that demographic criteria. How good is that and you can also target people having birthdays that are between the ages of 55 and 60 in Gosford and the cherry on top is that it’s all pay per click.

Get a free website

Facebook lets you have a free website, that’s right a free website, so if you have a personal Facebook account you can create another set of pages linked to your personal account that you can brand.

So as I said in my opening paragraph, get on Facebook today, don’t delay and if you want to see an example of a branded Facebook site look at Sitemaster on Facebook and if you want to hire someone to create your branded Facebook page, please consider contacting me.

10 Ways to Create a More Engaging Facebook Page

Facebook pages can be a huge way to connect to audiences. Facebook statistics tell us that the average user (at the time of this writing) is connected to 60 pages, groups and events. This means that aside from all the other Facebook friend activity that goes on, your page is one of 60 trying to grab attention a fan’s attention.

For a more effective social media marketing program, here are ten things that you can do to turn your Facebook page into a dynamic and engaging destination for your Facebook fans.

1. Be unique

There’s nothing worse than a bland Facebook page. Think long and hard about how your page can be different. Remember, your page is one of at least 60 things that an average Facebook user is giving attention to. It’s insanely important that your page is unique and stands out from the rest.

Design is a major part of being unique on Facebook. Check out these excellent examples of creative Facebook fan pages for inspiration. You can never go wrong investing time and resources into a great design for your Facebook page.

Think creatively about how you can add value to Facebook users. Can you give them something? Can you provide them with help, or resources? These are the things that will get people joining your Facebook page and keep them coming back.

2. Don’t use a generic landing page

Facebook allows you to customize what page different types of users land on. You can show people who have never been to your page before a completely different message than people who are already fans on your page. It’s a great idea to show potential users a page specifically tailored for them. It might give a little background about your company or site, and would give them a great reason for joining.

Never let new users land on your Wall. The Wall doesn’t really tell anything about your brand, and it won’t have much impact on new visitors.

3. Give something away quickly

Your die-hard followers won’t need any reason for joining your fan page. But if you’re trying to really grow your Facebook presence, consider giving resources back to your community and niche. This allows you to reach other potential fans within your niche that might not have known about your Facebook page.

4. Use a large profile picture

People on Facebook want to see photos. After all, Facebook is far and away the biggest photo sharing site on the web. So make sure your page has a large photo of your company or brand as the profile picture. This helps with branding and adds trust to your profile.

5. Tag fans in photos

This is a great tip if you’re a brick and mortar business. If you’re somehow able to take pictures of your customers, tag them within the picture. Many people have Facebook notifications that alert them when they’ve been tagged in photos, and this will bring them back to your page.

Your fans also have the ability to upload photos as well. (This might require some moderation on your part. As with anything user generated, you might get some spam, etc.) Allowing fans to upload and tag themselves and friends in your pages automatically adds a nice social “hook” to your page.

Not only are you giving back by adding photos, you’re also keeping your brand planted firmly in the fan’s mind.

6. Use contests

Contests are a great way to make your fan page more engaging, and they also give incentive for potential fans to join. Contests that include giveaways can be excellent marketing tools if they’re done properly.

7. Integrate multiple social networks

You can use multiple Facebook applications to pull in your other already existing accounts from other social networking sites. With the help of some nifty applications, you can pull in Twitter, Flickr, and many others fairly quickly.

8. Thank people for becoming your fans

When someone becomes a fan on Facebook, immediately thank them! Give them something in return, like an ebook or coupon, or at the very least send them a quick “thanks!” message.

This small gesture can be huge in spreading goodwill about your page and brand. It might even give users more incentive to share your contests and resources on your fan page.

9. Don’t treat your fans like kids

In case you haven’t noticed, Facebook has grown up a lot in the past few years. What used to be a place for college students and younger is now a place for everyone. According to this report from istrategy labs, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook in 2009 was adults aged 55 and over. The largest overall demographic on Facebook is ages 35-54, which makes up 29% of all Facebook users.

So don’t write for an audience of teenagers. Everyone is now on Facebook. Sure, your brand might dictate the writing style for your target audience. (Seventeen magazine sounds quite different than AARP.) But don’t make the mistake that the only people visiting and joining Facebook Fan pages are teenagers and college kids.

10. Keep at it

Oftentimes people will create their pages and leave them. Facebook pages are breeding grounds for excellent feedback and engagement. Many people are starting to find that Facebook pages have excellent discussions and high interaction rates, oftentimes higher than Twitter and other social networks. Photos and contests are great interaction tools, and posting stories and articles also add lots of value to the community.

There are plenty of ways to stay involved with Facebook fan pages. Growing a fan base on Facebook for your page requires work, but engaging with your community on Facebook pays huge dividends. For more Facebook Fan page tips, check out this post.

Facebook: Advertisers Have Quadrupled Since 2009

Amid all the furor over Facebook’s handling of privacy following the launch of its Open Graph protocol at the F8 developer conference — a storm of controversy that resulted in an op-ed piece by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the Washington Post and the rollout of some new privacy controls — it’s easy to forget that the social network is still growing rapidly. And not just in terms of the number of users, which has likely crossed the half-billion mark by now and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, but as a business as well. Facebook told Bloomberg today that the number of advertisers it is working with on its platform has quadrupled since the start of last year, and that it doubled its advertising staff last year.

Mike Murphy, vice president of global sales, told the wire service that the company is “very well positioned as people come out of this current economic situation” and has become “absolutely core to marketing campaigns.” Facebook is definitely becoming a substantial force in the world of online display advertising — according to traffic measurement firm comScore, the network became the largest publisher of display ads in the United States earlier this year, passing former market leader Yahoo.

Facebook hosted over 176 billion display ads in the U.S. in the first quarter of this year, comScore said, up from just 70 billion a year earlier. The latest figure gives the social network more than 16 percent of the market. The actual value of those ads in terms of revenue is an open question, however, since industry analysts say ads on social networking sites tend to be priced lower than those on regular web pages (according to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook had $500 million in revenue last year, with the bulk of that from advertising). Facebook has had an ad partnership with Microsoft since 2006, which was expanded in 2007 when the software company acquired a 1.6 percent stake in the social network for $240 million.

Google came sixth in the latest comScore rankings — behind MySpace and AOL — with just 26 billion ads and a 2.4 percent share, but of course it also controls the majority of the global market for search-related keyword advertising. The comScore numbers also include only those display ads that are served on a company’s own domain. Yahoo and Microsoft run advertising networks that display ads through a variety of partners, and Google is building one as well, called AdX. The search company also reportedly just acquired a small ad-buying platform called Invite Media for $70 million, which makes it easy for ad buyers to work with multiple ad networks and exchanges.

A Roundup of 20 Effectively Branded Facebook Pages

Nowadays, pretty much every company has its own Facebook page, which is hardly surprising, considering what a superb and absolutely free platform it is for brands to interact with, and get valuable information from, their customers and fans. What is surprising, however, is that very few organizations have gone beyond the standard Wall, Info, Discussions and Photos tabs to create a Facebook page that’s in any way out of the ordinary.

Facebook allows developers to create their own custom tabs, using either Flash or Facebook’s own markup language. Some more forward-thinking companies have now taken the opportunity to do this. They’re reaping the rewards by getting more fans and engaging with them to a greater extent. Below, we take a look at 20 of the most effective Facebook pages around, acknowledging pages with great custom tabs and others which reward fans in more traditional ways.

1. Pizza Hut


Pizza Hut tends to use Vote! as its home tab, allowing visitors access to polls about different pizzas and deals, which gives the company access to lots of valuable information. The best thing about Pizza Hut’s Facebook Page, however, is the Pizza HutInterFace App, which lets uses order a pizza without ever leaving the comfort of Facebook.

2. Victoria’s Secret PINK

Victoria’s Secret PINK

Victoria’s Secret interacts with customers through The Scoop tab. Visitors can take part in quizzes and play games to find their perfect underwear. Once found, the chances of visitors making a purchase are greatly increased.

3. Livescribe

Livescribe

Every bit as well crafted as the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen itself is the Livescribe Facebook page, which is one of the most interactive in this list. As well as watching a range of videos, visitors can leave comments on specific pens. Livescribe makes it as easy as possible for people to buy their products by providing a Buy Now tab as well as links to shops like Amazon.

4. Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures’ page is barely recognizable as Facebook. Using the Our Films home tab, visitors and fans can watch trailers for all the latest releases, “Like” particular films, and link to other sites with ease.

5. Red Bull

Red Bull

It came as no surprise to me to learn that a company as progressive as Red Bull would have such an excellent Facebook page. Its home Red Bull custom tab allows users to instantly link to information regarding Red Bull sponsored events and athletes. Some videos are accessible only to fans, giving lots of incentive for people to click that all-important “Like” button.

6. 1-800-Flowers

1-800-Flowers

Right from the outset, 1-800-Flowers attempts to interact with its visitors through its Welcome page. Polls which aim to ascertain the most popular flowers to send on Mother’s Day, for example, engage visitors and act as terrific market research for the company. Users can also send gifts to friends.

7. Slightly Stoopid

Slightly Stoopid

This isn’t the most visually stimulating Facebook page you’ll ever see, but it is one of the most accessible and usable. Quite simply, you’ll find a clear list of the band’s next concerts, all of which lead to Facebook Events if clicked on, as well as a video and music player.

8. Cranium

Cranium

Most people are on Facebook and Twitter, so integrating the two wherever possible is a very good idea. On the Cranium page, recent updates from Twitter are provided alongside a video. Visitors can also take part in a quiz to find their own Cranium character.

9. Threadless

Threadless

Trendy clothing company, Threadless, is keen to get visitors involved in its designs. On Facebook, they do this by letting people comment on new T-shirts they’ve created. This also allows the brand to show off its latest collection in detail.

10. Starbucks

Starbucks

Rather than try to cater to everyone simultaneously; Starbucks uses its Around The World tab to segment the Starbucks community into markets based in different parts of the world, so that that they can be targeted more efficiently. On the Starbucks home tab, fans can manage their reward cards thanks to a very handy app.

11. The Children’s Place

The Children’s Place

I really like The Children’s Place’s home tab, it’s really well laid out- very clear with plenty of white space. Customers can find their nearest store, sign up to the newsletter and link to the The Children’s Place website with ease.

12. Honda

Honda

Besides links to fan pages for every single one of Honda’s most popular models, visitors to Honda’s Facebook page are invited to take part in something they call The Experiment. It’s an app which aims to prove that everybody in the world either loves a Honda or knows somebody who does. It all sounds a lot more interesting than it is, but nevertheless it really gets people thinking and talking about the brand.

13. St John’s University

St John’s University

Not many people use the Boxes tab on their Facebook page, but I can’t for the life of me think why. St John’s University, which uses Boxes as its home tab, shows just how great it is for showing off images and making links more clickable. Creating something similar to this for yourself is very simple.

14. Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Reckon you’ve got a lot of fans on your Facebook page? You haven’t got as many as Barack Obama. The US President, who famously utilized Facebook, Twitter and other online means to secure his resounding win in the last election, has 8,246,632- beat that! What makes this page so successful is not the design, but the quality and regularity of the updates and messages on the Wall.

15. Lacoste

Lacoste

If you run a stylish company, you better make sure you’re not being let down by an ugly Facebook page. As is often the case with many iconic fashion houses – minimalism is key. On its home tab, Lacoste provides nothing more than a video of its latest catwalk show- simple and effective.

16. Facebook

Facebook

The success of a Facebook page doesn’t just come down to how unusual it looks or how many unique custom pages it has. The most important thing is, and has always been, the extent to which the page engages and updates its readers. This is exactly what the Facebook fan page does extremely well.

17. iTunes

iTunes

The iTunes custom home tab, called Features, looks and acts just like a “proper” website, letting you search for songs, albums, movies and more in iTunes and access the iTunes chart. Importantly, iTunes rewards loyalty by giving everybody who becomes a fan 15 free songs!

18. Ashton Kutcher

Ashton Kutcher

Ashton Kutcher’s not only a human being, he’s also a brand, and Facebook is one of the most effective ways for him to reach his audience. In order to watch his live webstreams, you have to become a fan and RSVP, which is a very good way to get people to sign up.

19. Skittles

Skittles

Skittles has made its Facebook page just like its sweets – colorful and fun. All of the great Skittles ads are available at the touch of a button, as are various Skittles related polls, some of which decide the direction of new ads for the brand, which really empowers the fans.

20. Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson has gone for the “website look” with its Facebook page. This can sometimes detract from the more interactive elements of the Facebook platform, but Harley seems to have made up for this in other areas- like providing freebies such as wallpapers to fans.

There have been many high profile cases of organizations getting things very wrong when creating a new Facebook page. This is, after all, a very new way of interacting with the public and the ground rules are still being set. Recently, for example, Nestle (never far from controversy) took offense to fans using the Nestle logo as their profile pic. Needless to say, this sparked somewhat of a backlash against the brand and more than a few cries of “Big Brother”.

There are so many Facebook page flops out there that I almost feel bad singling one out, but the page run by DePaul University really is garbage. It’s not that it’s offensive, difficult to use, or anything like that. It’s just incredibly boring and ugly. Come on DePaul – you can do better than that!


James Adams is a writer working for Cartridge Save where he reviews products such as the HP 300 ink cartridge. Check out their blog for more articles on media and design.

Are Facebook’s Views on Privacy ‘Naive and Utopian?’

Although an attempt to marshal support for “Quit Facebook Day” appears to have more or less fizzled, the social network continues to fight the perception that it either doesn’t care about privacy or hasn’t been diligent enough in giving users a way to control their private data, despite the recent changes to its privacy settings. In the latest move, a member of the House Judiciary Committee sent the company a letter on Friday saying he’d like more information about its privacy policies, and is considering holding a committee hearing into the recent changes.

Communications studies professor Nancy Baym said in an interview that she thinks one of the biggest problems for Facebook is that it has a “fundamentally naive and Utopian” view of what privacy means online, which stems from the fact that the company is run by “a bunch of computer science and engineering undergrads who don’t know anything about human relationships.” Baym, who teaches at the University of Kansas, also writes a blog called Online Fandom, where she wrote recently about why she hasn’t quit Facebook despite her concerns about the way it handles private information. She said it’s ironic that Facebook “understands so little about human communication, since it has built what is effectively the largest interpersonal communication network in the world.”

David Kirkpatrick, in his new book “The Facebook Effect,” quotes the social networking site’s founder and CEO as saying: “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” and that “having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” Such a statement, according to Baym, is not only fundamentally naive, but indicates just how privileged Zuckerberg as a wealthy, white, heterosexual male really is — in other words, someone who has nothing to fear from being transparent about his life, and no need to maintain two different identities. As Baym put it:

I don’t think having different online personas has anything to do with a lack of integrity — it’s a reality of human interaction. Why shouldn’t people have the right to connect with people who share their political beliefs but share different things with their colleagues at work? We can go to work but also go to political meetings outside of work hours…This is like having to go to one building and do everything there.

Transparency of the kind Zuckerberg is recommending, Baym said, may be fine for someone like the Facebook CEO or any of the other senior executives at the social network, but it might be a different thing entirely for someone who’s gay and doesn’t want that information to become public for fear of reprisals at work. In that case, she said, having two different identities online is simply a matter of self-preservation. Baym — who has her own book coming out soon called Personal Connections in the Digital Age — also noted that Facebook as a corporation doesn’t follow the same kinds of rules about transparency that it wants its users to obey:

I would buy this whole philosophy about having a commitment to sharing because it makes the world a better place if Facebook did more of that themselves. Why don’t they livestream all of their meetings? Instead, they have top-secret meetings about all of this stuff and don’t tell anyone what happens in them until after they’ve made a decision.

Of course, Facebook isn’t advocating that users share all of their information in the way Baym suggests, so perhaps expecting the entire company to do so is a little unfair. But the professor also said she finds it offensive that Facebook continues to change its tune as to what’s public and what isn’t. For example, users were previously able to keep their friends lists private, but Facebook recently made them public by default (although it later responded to criticism of this move, and changed its options to allow friends lists to be hidden). “It’s a huge ethical problem,” she said. “They keep changing the rules. That’s what really bothers me.” For what it’s worth, Zuckerberg said after announcing the network’s most recent changes that he didn’t foresee changing Facebook’s privacy guidelines again for a long time.

Likejacking Takes Off on Facebook

Security researchers are warning of the newest Facebook threat, something they’re calling “likejacking,” a Facebook-enabled clickjacking attack that tricks users into clicking links that mark the clicked site as one of your Facebook “likes.” These likes then show up on your profile and, of course, in your Facebook News Feed where your friends can see the link and click it, allowing the vicious, viral cycle to continue

According to security firm Sophos, hundreds of thousands of users have already fallen for this new “likejacking” trick thanks to the clever and tantalizing linkbait the spammers use to entice people to click their links. For example:

"LOL This girl gets OWNED after a POLICE OFFICER reads her STATUS MESSAGE."

"This man takes a picture of himself EVERYDAY for 8 YEARS!!"

"The Prom Dress That Got This Girl Suspended From School."

After clicking through on a link, victims don’t get to see the promised content, but rather a blank page reading “click here to continue.” This page contains the clickjacking worm (Troj/Iframe-ET) embedded via an invisible link. Click anywhere on the page and the message is posted to your profile and News Feed, allowing the worm to further its spread.

This particular exploit is made possible by way of Facebook’s new “like button” and its associated developer code. According to the Like Button documentation, the buttons can be customized with meta data that includes things like the title of the webpage, the name of the Web site and the URL of a picture for the page. By customizing these fields, spammers and hackers can easily create links that are, in fact, malicious “likes.”

Told You So

The popularity of this particular attack vector is not surprising. Soon after the launch of the Facebook like button, we reported on its potential as a threat, noting how incredibly easy it is to create like buttons that link to anything on the web – even pages you have never visited.

It was only a matter of time before spammers and hackers started exploiting this weakness for their own purposes. (Frankly, we’re surprised it took this long.)

The problem has to do with the overly simple way Facebook has implemented the “like button” feature. Non-developers can plug a URL into a wizard that generates code which can be copied and pasted anywhere on the Web. Like buttons created this way or manually, via handwritten code, will function properly even if they point to a webpage that’s on a different domain from the page where the button is being hosted.

Kyle Bragger, a Web entrepreneur who just launched Forrst, an online community for developers and designers, warned Facebook users of “like fraud” back in April by way of personal blog post. To circumvent potential likejacking attempts such as these, he created a Facebook “like” bookmarklet which safely “likes” the page you’re on, allowing you to feel secure that you’re actually liking the real thing and not some shady linkbait. (Or likebait, if you will).

If you’ve been hit with this likejacking attack, the best you can do is remove the like from your profile and delete the post from your News Feed. You might want to apologize to your friends with a Facebook status update, too.


Facebook and the Lack of Privacy

By Yoast founder Joost de Valk

Two weeks back, while speaking at SAScon, I said in a panel there that “Facebook is the scariest shit I’ve seen in years”, related to their latest updates. I also said it was a lawsuit waiting to happen, coming from the European Union. I was right. Well, not entirely, it’s not a lawsuit yet. I referred to a blog post on State of Search by my buddy Bas about Privacy, Facebook & Google. He made a very good analogy to real life:

Imagine this: you are buying a bread in the supermarket which has discount passes. That means they know what you bought. You payed with your bank card, so the bank now knows where you spent your money. Meanwhile you get gas outside of the supermarket so the bank now knows you came with the car, bought the bread and had gas. The gas station also knows which kind of gas and the fact that you decided to buy that candy-bar which was staring at you next to the counter. All bits of information which are separately not that important. But now here’s one company which allows you to say whether or not you liked the services. In return, they store every bit of information, so the bread, the candybar, the gas, all of it. And then they sell, or give away, that data to a third party, lets say a gym.

I guess now you get why it scares me? Luckily, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (*cough* nice name *cough*) said in their letter:

Social networks needed to have a default setting in which access to profile information and information about users’ connections were “limited to self-selected contacts”.

There’s no word not to be misunderstood there, and I fully agree. Especially in the light of recent developments, allowing people to search for updates from outside Facebook. Weird thing is, I actually only started to use Facebook a bit better a couple of weeks back, on the day of the F8 developer conference where they announced these changes. I see the possibilities for marketing on & with Facebook a bit better now, and understand the power it has for advertisers. Those advertisers get that as well, it turns out, comScore says Facebook served up 176.3 billion ads to U.S. customers in Q1, being 16.2% of the market.

So I hope they get this fixed. I don’t want to do away with Facebook, not just yet, I do want them to change their way of thinking about and dealing with privacy though, and not just now, but for all eternity.

[Yoast]

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Facebook Hates Girl Scout Cookies

Facebook is now against Girl Scout cookies. That’s right, from this point forward Facebook is banning all discussion promotion and dialogue regarding all of our favorite treats (Thin Mints included)!

Okay, so that’s not true. As far as I can tell, Facebook doesn’t care one way or the other about Girl Scout cookies. However, if the recent surge

of dialogue revolving Facebook’s changes to privacy is anything close to reality, one could assume that Facebook has signed a deal with the devil. To put it simply people are angry with Facebook. Many of Facebook’s new critics sound like a heartbroken teenager who has been cheated on. The talk of betrayal runs rampant through most of the criticizing blog post and comments. Most are asking why would Facebook betray us?

To all those that feel betrayed by Facebook it’s important that you understand one thing:

It’s your own damn fault.

Since when did we think it was okay to trust any one company with all of the personal details and information about our life? Since when did people start to develop real relationships with corporations based on trust and respect? Social media has fooled us into believing that companies can participate with their users in a transparent and authentic way. But in reality every company has an agenda that it must pursue. Every company’s chief motive is its own survival and if that means exploiting their customers contributions then they will do it.

The magic of social media marketing is that for the first time it gives corporations the ability to be more authentic than any other time in history. For example Facebook could have avoided most of the media backlash by simply being transparent about their intentions from the beginning. The tag line could have read, “Join Facebook, where we will collect information about your life and share with the world.” Sure they wouldn’t have as many users with that tag line but in the end they would be executing real authenticity.

The lesson for users:

Don’t assume that corporations engaging in social media have the best intentions just because they’re utilizing a trendy feel-good medium to engage you. You should exercise the same amount of caution engaging them that you would when you engage companies off the Internet. In other words Facebook, Google, MySpace, Twitter and all of the other companies online are not your friends. Their primary objective is to make money not to build trust. Trust, authenticity, and all of the other feel good marketing buzzwords are tools to open your wallet and your guarded privacy.

The lesson for marketers:

State your intentions in crystal-clear language at the beginning. And, throughout the company’s development reiterate those intentions on a regular basis. Make sure that your users are well aware that your primary objective is your own survival. Make sure they understand that if needed you will use their contributions for your own profit. In doing so you will only attract users that truly believe in what you’re doing and will be more likely to contribute to your success.

Now, that we have gotten that out of the way, everyone needs to relax and have a Samoas!


by Joe Hall




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