May 8, 2010

Might Facebook be on the Fundamentally Wrong Path?

Posted in Facebook, Marketing 2.0, Social Media tagged , , at 2:17 pm by Doug Brockway

In early May Dan Yoder posted this article on Business Insider:  10 Reasons To Delete Your Facebook Account.  One of the key points made in the analysis is that “Facebook’s Terms Of Service state that not only do they own your data (section 2.1), but if you don’t keep it up to date and accurate (section 4.6), they can terminate your account (section 14).”

In defense of their privacy changes last January Facebook said ‘People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.’ In introducing the Open Graph API Facebook says ‘… the default is now social,’ meaning Facebook not only wants to know everything about you, and own that data, but to make it available to everybody.

“At the same time that they’re telling developers how to access your data with new APIs, they are relatively quiet about explaining the implications of that to members.”  Claims Yoder, “Since they are in the business of monetizing information about you for advertising purposes, this amounts to tricking their users into giving advertisers information about themselves.”

And lastly to my point, “At this point, all your data is shared with applications that you install. Which means now you’re not only trusting Facebook, but the application developers, too, many of whom are too small to worry much about keeping your data secure.”

There are many data privacy concerns that come to mind reading this.  I’ll add that the approach is simply wrong-headed from the point of view of marketing.

Yoder’s article made me think of a fantastic post by David Meerman Scott.  In Social media marketing explained in 61 words.  Scott writes, “

  • You can buy attention (advertising)
  • You can beg for attention from the media (PR)
  • You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales)

Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free: a YouTube video, a blog, a research report, photos, a Twitter stream, an ebook, a Facebook page.”

When Facebook claims ownership of our data and makes that data available to under managed and under controlled developers and  advertisers, they are using a social media medium to buy, beg and bug me for attention.  They are violating the basic tenets of social media marketing and being a world-class pain in the ass to boot.

Yoder makes other points.  He’s not technically impressed with Facebook, says it’s really hard to delete your account, that Facebook doesn’t support the Open Web, and their user interface [is sub-standard].  I certainly appreciate the last.

My guess is that Facebook will experience solid success for a while but that can, likely will, come to a screeching halt if their user-base ties the link between the “land grab” for personal data and annoying, unrelenting, old-style push marketing and advertising.

In its own way this is similar to Goldman Sachs et al claiming that they’re creating liquidity that makes life possible while at the same time taking every dime from every source they can in any manner that crosses their minds.  The concepts clash, or, as they say in Harvard Square, “that there’s one heckuva’ lotta’ cognitive dissonance.”

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