(UPDATED 5/17/12 DUE TO SUDDEN FLASH ON NEWS FOR FACEBOOK, INCLUDING GOING IPO, AND NEGATIVE REPORTS IN THE MAINSTREAM NEWS ABOUT FACEBOOK BUSINESS MODEL)
We’ve all had our concerns about Facebook and other social networking sites. This is based on watching them evolve, and how our privacy is being invaded and sold, without it actually “looking” like it is. The growing impression in the last few years, coming to a head now that Facebook is going IPO, is that – you can be paranoid.
Facebook IS stealing your privacy, and the media encourages the promotion of Facebook (and Twitter) as online mediums “for positive change and salvation”, in a sense. This is based on several Mid-East countries supposedly overthrowing dictators or rulers who were abusing their citizens because the “revolution for democracy” was enabled by Facebook. One major news source actually showed a video clip of the Egyptian “revolution” that consisted of several people running by the camera holding up a 20 foot banner with one word on it: FACEBOOK.COM. The news story on television seemingly tried to sell the unbelievable accomplishment of a social networking site as being the reason why Egypt got rid of their dictator. What a coup! (For Facebook).
However, the more frightening redirection of that logic is this: If the “revolutionaries” used their Facebook account to inform their friends and co-revolutionaries of where to be, what to do, and posted pictures and other information to accomplish the “overthrow of the current government”, that information is now owned by Facebook. So tens of thousands of “rebels” in Egypt have their information logged into the company with the largest compilation of personal data in the world. Facebook.com.
Will Facebook protect the information of these “rebels”? What if the same thing happened in America? Will Facebook users information be protected by probing “counter-attacks” by potentially favorable dictators/despots who know how to manipulate friendships with the corporate interests of the U.S.? Or will Facebook accept advertising requests from governments interested in their citizen’s political interests?
Who knows? But I do embrace this singular truth: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” (English Prime Minister, William Pitt The Elder, the Earl of Chatham, 1770.)
Facebook’s lure of easy communication with friends, family, and the world has built it into a singular source of almost 1 billion humans today. At least a percentage of them have read or worried about the placing of personal information into the hands of Facebook, and forgave the company for its trickery, slow re-visiting of disliked invasive features and clandestine rebuilding of those same privacy invading features to be introduced in a more “acceptable way”. Serious Facebook users have an addiction to sharing their lives among all their friends, and even “faux friends”, to somehow satisfy their desire to confirm their “acceptance” and popularity. I know, because that was my feeling when I opened my Facebook account four years ago.
I put over 300 photos, with details, tags, locations, emotions, and more into my Facebook account. It wasn’t until I went to post a comment on a Newsweek article when Newsweek’s website instantly displayed my account profile photo (my wife and me) in my comment field, and asked if I would like to “use my Facebook account to register and comment.” I was shocked. I never gave Newsweek my information, and when you want to make an anonymous comment, your IP address and personal photo being displayed kind of nips the anonymity in the butt. (that’s another story – why companies using Disqus and other “social networking” sites to “instantly register” to make a comment is actually backfiring, preventing websites from getting thousands of comments because of the lack of privacy. A popular domain blogger just announced he has stopped using Disqus as a requirement to post a comment on his site. Simply put – nobody posted comments anymore.)
However, this article isn’t about the sad addiction of Facebook users. It’s about the false impression marketing professionals have bought into “social media” advertising. This article is an opinion regarding how stupid major companies are by thinking social media as being the golden path to follow, and thinking as advertisers paying Facebook, that Facebook will give them the data that Facebook already controls. The monkey spit of what’s happening on Facebook with advertisers is: The path of social media isn’t supposed to be the path that diminishes the company’s brand.
There are thousands of stories from users, developers, internet gurus, privacy advocates, and even marketing professionals regarding how dangerous Facebook and other social networks like MyLife.com, MySpace.com and many others, can be. Check out this story about how social networks assist hackers to get easy access to your personal info.
The Domain Industry really has one path to take to gain the best profits on their investments. That is communicating directly with End Users (I like to capitalize that term!) for your domains. It won’t come from other domainers trying to pick off your domains for cheap, or even parking traffic, although the latter can generate income if you have the right domain, it obviously isn’t going to be top of the revenue path.
Domain investors need to be concerned that their potential domain name sales are being replaced by Facebook account backlinks, which are actually being promoted on national television and magazine ads. Think about it: Facebook charges a lot of money for these companies to come in with their own advertising account, and allows any advertising company to have “open season” on every sucker who “likes” (clicking the infamous “thumbs up” icon) the advertisers’ Facebook site, based on their commercials.
The rat in the pudding most Facebook users don’t understand, or maybe don’t care about is this: Facebook is releasing everything you had set as “private” to the advertisers who you just “liked”. Why? Because privacy for your records only applies among Facebook users, not those companies who you end up “liking” or connecting to because you want to be informed of their newest prodservs. In essence, when you click on a company’s Facebook link and “like” them, all your private information will be released to that company. Facebook can actually hone down their advertisers’ searches to a particular type of demographic, and you can imagine the thousands of separate niche categories Facebook has compiled.
As the facts of this “advertiser intrusion” leaks out and becomes well-known amongst Facebook users, will there be a backlash against those companies that tricked them to “join” or “like” them, just to have that company/advertiser be able to collect your likes, dislikes, photos, school contacts, business contacts, friends, family, and other ridiculous information you put up on Facebook? I think once people realize that when they respond to the commercials asking people to visit Facebook sites and sign up or “like” them, that their private info no longer applies , they will be very very angry.
Already, major corporations are starting to think twice about advertising with Facebook, although the above “concerns” aren’t what is pulling them away from Facebook. There seems to be other facts that are surfacing in the marketing space that are making advertisers hesitate using Facebook. According to a new AP/CNBC poll, over 50 percent of Facebook users believe that Facebook is a “passing fad”. Reports vary , but at least 44% of Facebook users do not click on ads in their Facebook account. Ouch.
Beyond that, let’s just discuss the stupidity, and moronic decisions, made by some ad agency or company marketing director to include FACEBOOK.COM in their national TV commercials, actually placing Facebook’s domain name (brand) in front of their own! I’ve attached more than a few photos of TV commercials where well-known brands end their commercials with a request for people to contact them through the advertiser’s Facebook account. Think about it. The advertiser pays Facebook for the data collection rights (and Facebook does their typical toady two-step telling their users they’ll “never sell their private data”, but says indistinctly that they don’t “control third party privacy usage” if you click on their ads.
I would like to hear from at least one advertising VP who will state, on the record, that placing another company’s website or name in front of their own, in a paid advertisement, is a smart move, and is actually working for them. Please, let Successclick.com hear from ONE marketing expert who thinks that the “benefits” of Facebook information trumps the “backseat promotion” of their company behind Facebook. Please, someone stand up for Facebook or any of these idiotic ad directors who allowed the following TV ads to be placed nationwide. Or, agree that each should be fired for being this lame to allow the following ads to appear:
The facts regarding advertising are simple: Your brand, your brand, your brand.
Stupid advertising techniques and “branding” mistakes have happened thousands of times, but now they are happening in huge groups of Dumb. Now all these companies are completely dependent on Facebook to continue their “relationship” with their consumers. What’s wrong with the company forming their own “social network page”? A forum? A simple “share your story and photos here” page? “Login and have fun!” That’s not possible anywhere but at Facebook or Myspace or 100 other completely ridiculous privacy invading wannabee social network websites?
(Speaking of MySpace, anybody remember them and how huge they were?)
- Which brand name consistently makes its name seen and recognized instantly in these commercials? Where are people going to go as directed by the commercials? Most importantly, what company controls all the data given by consumers who choose to click on an advertiser’s Facebook powered commercial?
- Any marketing director, VP of Marketing, VP of Advertising, Advertising Executive, and most of all, the ad agency itself, that recommends and directs their client to use Facebook for consumer interaction and data collection, sells out their own brand for Facebook’s brand (on their client’s dime) and then controls and maintains all the data for the company, SHOULD BE FIRED. IMMEDIATELY.
- About a week ago, a popular domain blogger wrote about how uneducated real estate companies and agents were about the power of geo-domains. His article stated that real estate businesses were the “worst” at understanding the advantages of owning geo domains representing their area of marketing. Most domain investors have seen this lack of understanding from real estate professionals, and most agree. So it’s no surprise that Real Estate Contacts, Inc., just sent out a news release discussing their choice of Facebook for “Social Media Marketing Expansion“. If you’re a domain investor with experience, that news release endorsement by a real estate company should spell out how “smart” it is to use Facebook as your source of business promotion.
- As of this time: 7:20 AM PST, just 40 minutes from the IPO offering, Marketwatch expert makes a call on Facebook compared to Google stocks. Keep your money in your pocket.
- Most Moronic Advertising “Scheme” Ever Perpetrated On Businesses.