The Facebook Backlash and Your Social Campaigns: Should You Be Worried?

Posted on May 18, 2010

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Not everybody is happy with Facebook right now. Accusations of breach of privacy and disregard for online safety have prompted grassroots protests and mass deletions of accounts on the premise that not only does the social network do nothing to protect user privacy, but actually encourages distribution of information not necessarily meant for everybody’s eyes. If you use Facebook, perhaps you’ve seen viral status messages from friends imploring you to make adjustments to your settings to ensure that the complaint you make about your boss isn’t broadcast to the free world. Reports that some users prefer to delete their profiles altogether may concern other diehard Facebook fans, and as a business with a strong Facebook presence you might wonder if this backlash will affect the way you promote your products and services.

The privacy concerns making the news, naturally, concern users who are wont to share personal information and photographs on their networks. While they believe at first only select friends have access to the data, neglected privacy settings may allow certain (read: embarrassing) information to be found in Internet search. We’ve all heard stories of people getting fired from their jobs or losing out on other opportunities thanks to a slip of the keyboard – an outsider might opine, “Well, don’t post anything you wouldn’t shout into a megaphone,” yet one can argue users and Facebook need to meet halfway on ensuring security measures.

As a business, you want exposure for your Facebook page. Despite the grumbling, Facebook is still one of the most used websites on the Internet – it’s a powerful search engine and marketing tool, and as you amass fans (or people who “like” your page and company, per the new policies) the opportunity to expand your reach grows. If you are concerned about losing fans due to a protest against privacy settings, know that you do have a few options for keeping your page visible and the information available, even to people who don’t use Facebook.

1) Integrate the content into other networks. Feed status updates into your Twitter account to capture that audience, and place a fan box on your main website. If you use Squidoo, there is now an option to embed a fan box in a lens, too. Anywhere you can place your page’s RSS, take the advantage.

2) Keep your page active and visible. Offer as much data on your page to new visitors and those who do not use Facebook. As a business page, you should feel comfortable with the information you post there. Don’t give away any trade secrets, but encourage participation with the content you do provide.

3) Be respectful of current fans. Make sure whoever monitors comments on your page is courteous to posters. Just as the products and services you impart online are available to others, so are bad vibes. If you receive a complaint, be tactful in your response, because that’s what people will see. The impression you make on Facebook coupled with the timeliness of your information will keep people on your page.

How will Facebook fare in the future? Like Google, it may continue to grow and offer amenities we can’t live without, or it could go the way of lesser social networks if and when another player comes along. Whatever the fate for this network, it is still a top used site and as such holds importance in your social optimization. Mind your p’s and q’s on your Wall tab, and you should be fine.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media promotion and Virginia Beach web design. Clients include European hotels, real-time global trade forums, and vendors of pet supplies.

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