This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on August 22nd, 2012.
Some are even beginning to question whether Mark Zuckerberg can continue as the leader of Facebook (somewhere, the Winklevoss twins are howling with laughter). Clearly, the experiment of Facebook as a publicly traded company isn’t going well, though I think it is still too early to be called a failure.
In the past, I’ve made the argument that your privacy is not Facebook’s responsibility, and I still believe that.
How ironic, then, that I believe taking the company private again will benefit it in the long term.
The main problem facing Team Zuck at the moment is how to turn those millions of users into dollars that shareholders can benefit from. That’s the key. Not the profitability of Facebook, but whether the company can increase the value of the company in the eyes of Wall Street.
I don’t think Facebook going public was a bad idea; I think it’s an idea that happened before the company was ready.
While I don’t think comparing Google and Facebook’s IPOs is an apples-to-apples scenario, it is worth pointing out that Google was a much stronger company than Facebook at similar points before their respective IPO’s.
Google had figured out how to be a profitable company before opening itself up to being controlled by people that have no idea what the company is about. It has also transformed itself into a media company as opposed to just a digital company (i.e. Google is much more like Apple, Facebook is more like Yahoo!).
However, by going public before it was completely ready, it opened itself up to control by people who are only interested in turning a profit rather than growing the company, and profits, that promotes longevity and sustainability.
Zuckerberg and the other Facebook principals should buy their company back. It will hurt their pocketbooks in the short-term, but to ensure the survival of the company, it needs to get advertising figured out, and how to monetize all those users.
It can’t do that as a public corporation.
At least, that’s what I think. What do you think?
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on April 20th, 2011.
The chief complaints I hear about Facebook are about its safety and security.
Mark Zuckerberg and his team have heard the cries from the masses, and unveiled a bunch of new tools yesterday addressing these two issues.
I’ll let you read the post to get all the details, but I wanted to highlight a couple of the big takeaways that I see with this announcement.
1. Social Reporting
This sounds a lot like the idea of community policing to me.
You are now able to do more than just un-tag yourself in a photo you don’t like.
Say I see someone post a picture tagging me as a Cardinals fan.
Frankly, I can’t think of anything more offensive than being labeled a St. Louis Cardinals fan. The gall of some people!
Now, I can not only report the above picture as offensive and bullying, but I can automatically block whomever is bullying me.
This can be reported to both Facebook as well as a trusted friend; whomever that may be for you.
I think this amounts to a crackdown by Facebook on the problem of online bullying, and I’m incredibly happy to see it take this step in particular.
I work with kids on a daily basis and, fortunately, don’t witness bullying very often because the kids I work with are great.
However, it’s naïve to think it isn’t happening, and bullying in the social media space is a natural progression of the experience of growing up.Teasing and poking fun are one thing. Harassment and intimidation are quite another.
2. Two Factor Authentication
This is another step in the right direction for cracking down on spammers and hackers by Facebook, which is slowly being rolled out.
If you turn on this feature, you’ll be asked to enter a special code in addition to your password when you log in to Facebook from a new device.
I like this a lot. I’ve argued in the past that your safety and security on Facebook is your own responsibility, and I still think that’s the case.
However, I’m never opposed to Facebook giving us more tools to keep us and our families safe online.
So what do you think? Are these steps good enough? Do they go far enough?
And the big question: what can we do as professional communicators to stamp out online bullying?
Do you like to “like” stuff on the web? Or check-in at your favorite coffeehouse in the morning? If you’re anything like me, it’s as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth. Facebook is rolling out a new way for marketers to harness that information and use it as advertisements on the social networking behemoth. From Ad Age:
The unit will give brand-related action such as a “like” or a check-in a lot more visibility on Facebook by adding them to an ad unit in addition to users’ news feeds.
For example, if Starbucks buys a “sponsored story” ad, the status of a user’s friends who check into or “like” Starbucks will run twice: once in the user’s news feed, and again as a paid ad for Starbucks. Though clearly marked with the words “sponsored story,” the ad — which will include a user’s name, just like the news feed — is not optional for Facebook users.
First of all, this is sure to raise the chorus of voices saying Facebook continues down the shadowy path of privacy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: your privacy on Facebook, and the Internet in general, is not Facebook’s responsibility. Don’t want your info on Facebook? Then don’t BE on Facebook.
Secondly, this is an incredibly valuable tool for marketers. Imagine being able to harness all that word-of-mouth about your brand from all over the country and then TELL people about it; in those people’s own words. Obviously, the danger here is that some negative comments get through, which is bound to happen. However, common sense would dictate if someone is checking into your brand, the three most likely outcomes are: no comment, positive, or neutral. In other words, the benefit of the positive check-in’s far outweighs the potential for negative check-in’s. If you’d rather not take that chance, simply buy the page likes instead.
This is word-of-mouth marketing 2.0. Any REAL comment about your brand is infinitely more valuable than anything you can put in a standard Facebook ad. Or any other kind of ad for that matter.
What do you think? Will this change the face of marketing on Facebook, and potentially the Web, or will this slide by mostly unnoticed?
I hold a rather unpopular opinion currently. It’s my opinion that it is in Facebook’s best interests to make as much of your information public as possible. Facebook is a for-profit corporation that trades in the information of its clients; namely, you and me. The only information they have to trade on though, is what we give them.
The expectation of privacy on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, or whatever other social media or Internet site you use is a fallacy. ANYTHING you post online should be considered public information. Updating your Twitter feed or Facebook status is exactly the same as issuing a press release, or even turning your microphone on at a radio station.
Facebook started out with strict guidelines on the privacy of its users. That was when Mark Zuckerberg was in college, just starting his company. He’s now 26-years old, a multi-millionaire, and interested in growing his company. Protecting the privacy of his clients is not in the best interests of his company, so why would you expect him to do that?
By now, you’ll have guessed that I believe the cross is yours to bear. Maybe it’s because I was in the public eye as a reporter for several years that I treat what I consider “private” differs from most people. My birthday? Readily available (and gifts are always welcome). The city I live in? Readily available. Who I work for? Also, readily available. I’ve made the mistake of posting my home address online, and that’s available too if you know what to Google.
Is it any of those site’s fault that I listed my information? No. I did that, and I’ll have to live with the spam and junk mail that comes my way as a result. I’m willing to stand up and take responsibility for what I post online. In America, we have a great distrust of large corporations. Was anyone REALLY surprised when we learned that Toyota was putting profits ahead of customer safety? Or that BP didn’t have the best safety mechanisms in place in the Gulf? Why would it be any different with a large corporation like Facebook?
Mark Zuckerberg wants to make money, and frankly I find it difficult to blame him. That’s what this country is all about. Building the best, smartest, quickest, widget to meet a need and/or desire. Facebook is his widget. And you’re complaining about a service that costs you nary a dime, assuming you don’t advertise on Facebook.
Don’t shirk your responsibility of protecting your privacy. The onus is not on Mark Zuckerberg. It’s on you and me.