Here’s a little piece I originally wrote for The Wall Blog:
I’m not saying we should rewind the clock. But I am saying we need to discuss the future.
I spend a lot of time noodling around Facebook and on blogs and forums, much of it for professional reasons.
But the blurring of editorial and advertising via personal (and apparently editorial) endorsements is starting to genuinely worry me. I therefore really like the fact that in the last couple of days, regulators on both sides of the Atlantic seem to have started to pay close attention to how the world is changing
In the United States, a coalition of consumer privacy groups has written to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) complaining that Facebook’s proposed changes violate a 2011 agreement by making it easier for the social network to use personal data about its users, including children under 18, in advertising on the site.
And in the UK, the Committee of Advertising Practice (the body that writes the rules the advertising industry has to follow) recently reminded advertisers of the rules around ‘native advertising’ – essentially that brands should not misrepresent paid-for content as editorial endorsement anywhere, in particular online.
Of course the two things are totally separate, but they’re also linked – it’s getting increasingly difficult to understand which endorsements are genuine, and which are paid for. And who gets paid.
And we’re potentially all about to lose our own image rights on Facebook.
Facebook’s proposed rule change, in simple terms, means that unless you explicitly opt-out (which actually seems harder than ever to do), any user can have their name and their image associated with anything they ‘like’ on the platform.
Where once you had to opt in, now you have to explicitly opt-out if you don’t want your face to appear in your friends’ timeline giving a virtual ‘thumbs up’ to a place or brand you’ve liked on the platform.
Oh, and you don’t get any credit/payment for it either. (Tough luck Z-list celebs – there goes another income stream). In fact, you won’t even know when it’s happened. Or how often it has happened. Whoever sees your normal updates can also see branded ads with your face in.
Of course, Facebook’s ads are clearly labeled as ‘sponsored stories’, but the link between individuals’ faces, likes, and ads is now potentially closer than ever. Too close in my opinion.
In the good old days, we could choose which logo or band we would wear on our T shirts, and we’d walk down the street wearing it with pride. But if this change happens then it’s the brands who will get to choose who endorses their products, based on what might have been one casual ‘like’ on Facebook.
Such a massive change in such a short a time.
I already feel sorry for the teenagers who ‘like’ the uncool brands and then un-knowingly advertise it to all their Facebook friends – so I welcome the FTC and CAP’s involvement.
I’ll also urge a degree of caution to our clients. Just because you might be able to use people’s faces in ads, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
And of course, just because Facebook is consulting on these changes doesn’t mean they’ll happen. But clearly it’s what could happen. It’s yet another reminder of who the media ‘owner’ is, how they make their money and how they rely on all of us to do so.
Those Altimeter types remain ahead of the curve, and this post by Jeremiah Oywang is no exception.
The long and the short of it is that all organisations will become more porous, more collaborative, and more – dare I say it – helpful to their customers, and their colleagues, and their supply chain.
We’re already seeing a massive rise in businesses starting up to help people use ‘down time’ and excess capacity in products – think air b’n'b, city car clubs etc etc.
The social tools can now help real-time trading of (not so) scarce resources. And it’s the future.
Strangely enough though…didn’t lasminute dot com start out with that same premise – helping hotels fill up otherwise empty rooms… What goes around, comes around I guess. Who’d have thought of Run DMC as digital role models back in 1986. All they were doing was telling millions of people about a product they loved. Using music, not Facebook.
Anyway – the post is well worth a read…as are the follow-ups
I’m not one to gratuitously re-post other people’s infographics, but I thought this was worth a share…because I was surprised quite how (ahem) rudimentary many companies’ analysis of social media activity is.
According to this research (over 2,000 companies, but not split by size – which I’d hope would show up way more variations), even though more than a quarter of them have dedicated social media teams, 90% of companies measure social media in terms of likes and followers.
Yes, those numbers are useful indicators, but pretty much all companies should look beyond that, at what people actually ‘do’ as a result of exposure to that social media content. Or any content at all.
There’s some other interesting stuff, both in the infographic, but also in the white paper about team structure too. Worth a read.