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Monday, December 03, 2007

These petitions just aren't doing it for me. So I deleted my Facebook account. Actually, they won't let me delete (only "deactivate"). So they're probably still selling my data.

Doh I'm just not OK with the new Facebook marketing practices, or their efforts to 'lighten' them. Or the way they've handled it. To me--and this is solely my own take--this business model doesn't qualify as "innovative". More like creepy, arrogant, annoying and nothing I would say any good things about.

And I would never, ever, not for all the money in the mint, advise my clients to follow such practices. It's socially irresponsible marketing and that bell is a bugger to un-ring. So instead of signing petitions and the like, I've deactivated. To be sure, I tried to delete.

But you can't do that.

So I guess you can never opt-out of Facebook? (Seems consistent at least.)

What's really telling? I went to delete and it gives me a whole host of "Why are you leaving?" options to choose from. Ten of them. Not a single one cites the privacy issue. And wouldn't you think that maybe, just maybe, Facebook might have seen even one of the millions of posts, articles and comments that are railing against them and add that as an option? Uh, nope.

Wait, we all know that, most of the time, people won't take time to comment--or explain why they're discontinuing their use of brands...so wouldn't they want to know the percentage of user attrition over these practices? Um, nope.

Rest-assured, I will continue to (actively!) participate in the marketing community through my blog, your blogs, community-oriented programs, contributing at The Daily Fix and, of course, my new home over at Twitter (which I'm thoroughly enjoying). I'm not "going" anywhere...it's just that I won't be on Facebook. Too bad as I was finally starting to get the swing of it and I liked leaving some silly messages on your walls.

Insofar as the "reason for leaving" submitted to Facebook, I wrote this under "other":

"My reason for leaving wasn't mentioned in the 10 options above...how can that be? So I'll give it here: you need to keep focusing on your users, instead of focusing on how to manufacture WOM (otherwise the WOM that is created becomes a lot of angst and jokes about you, see?). And making us opt-out is nearly as laughable as it is deplorable (opt-out was a 90s fad; it never will come back "in style"€).

But if you guys actually do read these, then here's my biggest tip: You did a really good job of creating value and innovating through opening the platform (bravo!). But trust is a high-ticket item to win back. Unfortunately most don't learn this...until after they've lost it. (tsk.tsk)"

Valeria wrote a well-researched piece (it's like a portal to all recent news on FBook, truly worth the read) and in it she hit on this:

"Let me spell it out for you: if you push a recommendation unknowingly (you are being broadcast), or are being compensated to give it, is not the same as sharing a review because you are passionate about a product or service and they exceeded your expectations. I think we can do better than that. The true holy grail is one that will manage to help market and sell products and services and at the same time respect that the people it seeks to engage can think for themselves."

I concur.

PS: And yes, I still feel the same way about loaner cameras. Some things just never change :-).

PPS: A great article--from last month's Fast Company--portending this intentional decision is here. It's actually a great article on the value of opening networks. The problem? Here's the info. right from the mouth of their newly hired marketer:

"It is only day 67 for Palihapitiya at his new job when we sit down to talk, but he already sounds like a true believer. While cagey about details, he isn't shy about the potential he sees for targeted ads to fill Facebook's coffers. He madly sketches on a notepad, drawing a fine distinction between demand fulfillment (I want a cheap ticket to Hawaii. Now!), which the Internet has become quite good at, and demand generation, the shape-shifting set of marketing messages that conspire to get a consumer to want something. That, he says, is where he sees serious money on the table. "Facebook users are more engaged with each other," he says. "Aren't you more likely to be interested in what your friends are doing?" Google, which focuses by and large on demand fulfillment, is a $160 billion company. "For every dollar that goes into fulfillment, there are hundreds that are spent on generation," he says, particularly by the big brands. So what could Facebook be worth? Five times Google? Ten times? "Could be," he smiles."

Sorry Facebook, you'll have to "conspire" without this marketer. I'm going to focus on creating value for customers--so that they authentically "buzz" about offerings--instead of treating them like commodities.

PPPS: Oops, almost forgot! In the last 24 hours my purchasing history entails: (2) MP3s from iTunes (one was an old Psychadelic Furs tune, the other was by the Pixies), (1) tube of Colgate toothpaste and (1) Kashi granola bar. Colgate and Granola bought offline, at a local NYC deli with the brand name "Deli".


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Nice move CK. And I agree, it's not a viable practice. It really seems like they are digging for value in the wrong places.

The big question for me is is there any real value there at all? Valerie's 'holy grail' is noble, but her use of a term that generally implies a futile search might be more apt than she realizes :).

@Paul: I just can't promote the practices I do over here--and to my clients--and then be over there. As being a FB member, for me, signals my support. It would be like my accepting a loaner camera and then railing against the program.

There's targeting and there's pollution of privacy. When users become commodities, I'm outta there. I don't need any brand that badly. Thanks for understanding and I loved Valeria's thoughtful post.

Thank you for the shout out, CK. The post started as a research into the issue to see what everyone was up in arms about.

As a student of the classics, I am fully aware of the meaning assigned to Holy Grail. A noble ideal to pursue even when all the evidence points to easier and more convenient goals ;-)

We need to coin a new term for Facebook's myopia. Chuztzbook?

@Cam: meant to tell you I loved your post on FB. I've just really taken the last week to ponder this...and whether they "lighten" their model they still have it--and still launched it. No more trust from this user.

But, here's the gem: it gives rise to a new category of social networks (ones that you can trust). Be interesting to watch and I like your buzzword.

@Valeria: Thanks for a great post; I appreciate your taking the time to provide all those great links along with your insight.

@CK - interesting, you use toothpaste? I'd have never thought of that, I must get myself some :)

@Valeria - apologies Valeria, for both getting you r name wrong and assuming you didn't get the metaphor.

@Paul: Yes, toothpaste--go WOMmy with that, wontcha? I've also bought a cup of coffee. I'll publish my purchases tomorrow for ya...I mean, what else would we talk about besides brands?

(oh, here's one to spread...you HAVE to be at Social. I'm gonna bug you about that over e-mail as we have so many greats coming in from all over the globe next April to NYC and I want you there ;-)

Thank you, CK for adding from the FC article and for participating in the conversation. I love marketing and want very much social networks and media to succeed -- while remembering that we are talking about people.

@Paul, now you must come to the social and meet in person ;-)

In their defense, I'd be very surprised if privacy cracked the top 10 reasons that people leave Facebook. How far down that long tail do they need to go?

And Facebook actually respects users' privacy in a lot of other ways and is actually a pioneer in that regard. Consider the granular degree to which you can protect parts of your profile from coming up in search engines. LinkedIn is the only other network I've seen that comes close to this. (See a story on that here: http://www.marketersstudio.com/2007/09/facebooks-seo-f.html )

Facebook, like most companies right now, is learning. They launched Beacon, experienced the backlash, and changed their system from opt-out to opt-in in just over three weeks. To me, that shows a company that's listening to its users, even if it's not pleasing everyone, and even if some of this right now is catered to benefiting its advertisers.

@David: Thanks. We're gonna disagree...and I'll happily talk it here and then over beers and burgers with you. Because I so very much respect your sage advice.

I feel they went too far. I do not feel they respected users and, during the weeks that you introduce your revenue model, you most definitely track user attrition and add it to the list of reasons users opt to leave. I think they're making some adjustments and then waiting for everyone to get over it.

Do I think they'll disappear? No. But I don't trust them. And this system is a BS way of trying to manufacture WOM. I'm so against that. The thing is, if you enable convos/exchanges...you'll get your WOM (so long as you create value for the audience your target).

Also, what I have not seen, is what you hit on - the learning curve. Any marketer knows to test these concepts, did they? Do they even have a Customer Advisory Board? If so, they would have found out (duh!) that they would be ruining people's holiday surprises. We all make mistakes and features fail, but privacy is too important. And I hope that advertisers stay weary for a while.

PS: And I would love to see them get stinkin' rich...but not this way.

My problem with the FB model is less about privacy than about relevancy.

I like and admire CK, but the fact that she downloads songs from iTunes and buys toothpaste is hardly a revelation.

I suspect that 99% of what my friends do online will be run-of-the-mill transactions, e.g. buying a book from Amazon.

And since it's not news, it's spam.

So FB isn't creating a new (and lucrative) advertising medium. It's creating more worthless spam.

@Toad: Agree on relevancy, too. Funny...you're still hitting on relevancy and I'm still fighting for the customer.

It kinda feels like old times, eh? Or maybe we're too old to change ;-).

("aside" for new readers: Toad and I had our issues with the Nikon blogger outreach program in May/June--these were the same issues on that front, too. We even did a podcast.)

Now, for teens, I could see them wanting to acquire the same songs/makeup/whatnot. But they buzz over that of their own volition. It's part of the fun of being a teen (at least a teenage girl).

And the thing is: while most won't care about this violation of privacy, we know that it should never be. There's innovation and then there's efforts to manufacture WOM.

No wonder the world hates marketers.

Feel free to drop me a note when your clients start asking for Fan Pages on Facebook and all the works. I'll take care of it for you ;)

I've raised significant awareness (and cash) for my clients on Facebook. Some of which have been charitable causes (did you try the Causes application before leaving?)Facebook is, and will continue to be, a viable tactic in social media marketing. Particularly for consumer, entertainment and lifestyle brands targeting Gen Y (me). Facebook is part of our internet CK. It's synonymous to the internet to millions of young adults with lots of disposable income.

Like I said, feel free to e-mail me or call at 781-895-7705 if you'd like to chat more about it. I totally understand why you wouldn't want to be involved in it. But, if it ever becomes an issues of marketing capability, I would be happy to help out. Guess I'll have to keep tabs on you via Twitter now.

@Yianni: Sounds good. Love to chat it, seriously. In the next post (the day after this one) I say that I'll show my clients the good and the bad of FB. See, the client will need to understand if it's right for them. Anything else would be myopic.

You know this, but just to be really clear...this is just isolated to CK not using FB. It's the right decision for me, feel good about it. Not looking to push anyone else. Just explain why I can't contribute to it.

I'll follow ya on twitter too. I'm really enjoying that platform (just started on it, so it's like my new FB ;-). And of course I'm still very active here and on others' blogs...and I might even be having an announcement or two in the not-so-distant future.

I agree. Facebook its not right for every client. I would actually say that for most of my clients, there is no significant value in developing a Facebook tactic. Nevertheless, it works beautifully with others. This article by the WSJ titled "Facebook, A Marketer's friend" shows some good examples http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB119612078598804556.html

Twitter is not a bad tool for clients either.

@Yianni: Yeah, social media is but one part of what I do (for clientele). Mostly, social media is my own enjoyment, meeting new colleagues, learning, etc. While many are asking about 2.0, my work has been in marketing strategy/planning and program development. That includes as much offline as online.

That said, there's no doubt I'm a huge social media advocate. I'm hooked ;-).

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