Outrages against FaceBook – Is it exposing the downside of Social Network Marketing.

I believe there is something out there watching us. Unfortunately, it’s the bloggers who act much faster than other mainstream media. In other terms they are more responsible to spread a buzz about other side of a story and render valuable thoughts to educate readers. Recently bloggers breakdown on privacy issues on FaceBook Beacon and raised many questions about the security of user’s database.

Just to remind, Facebook’s ad delivery system called Beacon is largely differentiate with Google’s one as Google only deliver ads to individual IP’s and doesn’t store any detailed information, where as FaceBook will be delivering ads are targeting on “Stored user Information”, these ads will pop up as per likes and dislikes of individual users, and that raised the questions like privacy issues.

Unlike Television, Radio or Print Media, Internet will not welcome advertising. Still advertising does appear on internet, but it’s a company, who has to decide which form will improve consumer relationship in achieving advertising objectives.

Today online companies should clearly explain their privacy policies and provide users the right not to store their information stored in a database. They may face many questions in adopting online advertising strategies.

Recent breakdown on FaceBook privacy issues reminds me one of the consumer’s outrages against American Express tie-ups with Knowledgebase Marketing Inc. Till today American Express is regarded as leaders in privacy issues. They have acted very fast and killed the partnership as it may disclose the data of over 200 million Americans to any merchant who accepts Amex cards. Similarly AOL junked a plan to sell their subscriber’s phone nos.

I am referring below a brief about 2 stories which look like a simple consumer/user acquisition strategy:

Recent Story #1: Walmart store started a FaceBook group targeting college students. The growing user base of Facebook appeals brands like Coca-Cola (KO), Sony Pictures (SNE) and Verizon (VZ) and over 44 websites like NYTimes, BlockBuster, Trip advisor etc. have signed up with Facebook to send their data to FaceBook’s Ad delivery system.

Older Story #2: Unlike other networks, Facebook launched an innovative system where they have opened the door in May 2007 for developers to build, add and run applications to Facebook system. Any one with the innovative ideas can create applications like Games, Wall, RSS sharing and others which may have larger user base.

On the surfaces it looks like an innovative strategy and alliance to push targeted content and ads to those who might be interested in any product and services. When an internet company works with another one, they end up with advertising each other as well as sharing their user bases to build a revenue and profit model.
Seems nothing wrong with it?

But bloggers are smart enough to sense the wrong side of these stories. The recent outrage by media and bloggers like Om Mallick, Nate Weiner of IdeaShower and many more raised the questions about security of user’s privacy, which kept FaceBook’s PR department busy enough to explain the possible updates to its users.

The primary questions rose in contest of above 2 stories, still remains the same:

  • Does FaceBook is using user’s touch points as “organized database”? This might be fair enough for a product selling company but is it fair for a Social Network?
  • What is the security of “Stored user Information”? What is the guarantee that it won’t be shared by partner sites?
  • How FaceBook will prevent use of it’s application development system to be used as marketing trick to reach a wider FaceBook users?
  • I am anticipating some certain misses by while studies towards understanding the user’s relationship prior to launch this innovative ad delivery system. There are still some concerns which are yet to be explained:

  • Does companies really studies about User’s relationship and do a survey on how many people will accept ads on their pages?
  • How many users provide real information on what they like and what they dislike? The loyalty towards a product or a brand changes in every consumer’s lifespan.
  • Do people really like to share their information to online companies selling consumer products? What happens if a “Valued Customer” of Wal-Mart is having a page in FaceBook, dislike ads in his system?
  • How does FaceBook react, when a smart marketer use developers to develop an application to use as a marketing tool to FaceBook Users or someone buy some “extremely popular applications” to reach existing users?
  • I strongly feel, Success of Social networks like FaceBook are largely dependent upon its users, and they must think of retaining the same for long run. New technologies advances are needed but companies and marketers need to analyze the impact of new tools and practices before implementing the same.

    Have a look on the buzz around web where some people are questioning the Facebook Privacy Beacon, and some trying cash on the publicity using Facebook’s fame.

    Quality blog posts a must read:

    1. Is Facebook Beacon a Privacy Nightmare?: GigaOM described the new Facebook advertisement delivery system called “Beacon” might turn out to be a privacy hairball for the company. Read the post clicking the link above.
    2. Facebook Revamps Ad System Following Backlash:If Facebook adheres to the new “opt-in” standard, “it would be a significant step in the right direction,” said Adam Green, a spokesman for MoveOn.org, which launched the petition drive to revamp Beacon just nine days ago. “It also says a lot about the ability of Internet user to band together to make a difference.” Read the full story at CIO.com.
    3. Facebook Beacon: Two Weeks Later:You should not miss how Nate Weiner keep track on Facebook. He has some interesting points and he provides more insightful information about the system.
    4. MySpace and Facebook launch new Advertising products, why Hyper Targeting, Social Ads and rise of the “Fan-Sumer” matter to brands, here is the post that describe the deals in details.
    5. Did Facebook Lie About Beacon to Gain Advertisers? Now who’s better: the company with an application in the number 1 spot, or the company with more apps in the top 10 list? Read this excellent post at Mashable.
    6. Facebook’s Beacon More Intrusive Than Previously Thought: A Computer Associates security researcher says that Facebook’s controversial Beacon online ad system goes much further than expected in tracking people’s Web activities. PCWORLD’s take on issue.
    7. Liveblogging Facebook Advertising Announcement (Social Ads + Beacon + Insights): This is how TechCrunch takes FaceBook Beacon. A detailed post on recently launched Social Ads (ads targeted based on member profile data and spread virally), Beacon (a way for Facebook members to declare themselves fans of a brand on other sites and send those endorsements to their feeds), and Insight (marketing data that goes deep into social demographics and pyschographics which Facebook will provide to advertisers in an aggregated, anonymous way).
    8. Facebook’s allure is fading…rapidly: Dennis Howlett Takes of FaceBook, “I’ve consistently said that FB is a metaphor for what could be a sensible alternative to business portals but as a business tool in its own right, “FB is failing.”
    9. Facebook Beacon woes are overstated: other side of coin, An interesting take by Matthew. Will I have to ignore news feed items about people like Charlene buying coffee tables? Sure. Just the same way I ignore people telling me they just added the Zombie application. Big deal.

    More Cool stuffs to read:

    • Some Kevin Mercuri trying to promote Grant Carter’s newly launched Social Network site called, Capazoo.com offering free signups to Disgruntled Facebook Members, Capazoo issued an open letter to disgruntled Facebook members earlier today via their website and offered free VIP memberships by using the promo
      code “facebook” on their registration page. Read the Press release here.
    • Coke Is Holding Off on Sipping Facebook’s Beacon, Read the full post at NYTimes.
    • Short Answers from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive opened the fourth annual Web 2.0 Summit in San Franciscothis afternoon. He answered – or at least, addressed – some questions from conference organizer John Battelle. Here are some excerpts from the conversation.
    • MoveOn.org takes on Facebook’s ‘Beacon’ ads Online activist group MoveOn.org is poised to announce a campaign targeting Facebook’s “Beacon” advertisements, which post information about users’ activity on partner sites (movie rentals, purchases from online retailers) onto their friends’ News Feeds.
    %d bloggers like this: