Facebook marketers beware. It’s two-way. And public.

August 26, 2008 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment

Every corporate blogger project job description, whether it’s a blogger job, or a broader online communications position, includes some reference to “social media marketing”, often specific to Facebook, MySpace, or other social media platforms.  Corporate blogging is migrating toward using social media platforms for traditional marketing techniques, and skill within Facebook is at a premium.

However, it is entirely likely that corporate blog projects are wandering into Facebook with blinders on.

For example – I’ve been “friending” random famous people on Facebook, out of curiosity on a number of levels.  I want to see if, say, Denzel Washington, or Bob Woodard actually checks his Facebook page.  I learned that some famous people do.

Chatted with CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin once, just to ask if it was really him or his assistant – I’m pretty sure Rachel Maddow and Bob Woodward didn’t friend me themselves – Toobin was there, and said it was him.  That was pretty cool.

I’ve discovered that said famous people are using Facebook entirely to market themselves.  There is simply no reason for Warren Lazarow, world famous venture capital attorney, to friend me back other than to build his list.  Which he did.

Which brings me to The New York Times columnist Matt Bai.

Like Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, CNN’s Rick Sanchez, and MSBNC’s Rachel Maddow, I friended Matt Bai purely out of a political blogger’s interest in his work, and out of curiosity to see if he’d friend back.  He did.  Neither of us know each other from Adam.  But now we’re “friends” on Facebook, which means I can email him, post items to his “Wall” on Facebook, invite him to events, etc., so that all our friends can see it.

I posted on Matt’s Facebook Wall (a hybrid of a blog and email) a hard criticism of a recent column.  Matt took offense, and proceeded to respond via my Facebook Wall.  It led to an exchange which got cumbersome, so I posted all the comments from both our Facebook Walls to my blog, so they were all in one place.

Matt didn’t like that.

Second, serious bloggers don’t post other people’s private communications on their blogs.

My response.

second, this is not private. it’s my wall on facebook, through which you reach 317 other people. you reach more now through my blog. i’d think that would be where you’d want to respond, i.e., in the forum in which i made the criticism.

The conversation between Matt and I was available to the combined total of 777 people on Facebook.  It is not the first time I posted blog criticism of my Facebook “friends” on Facebook, and said “friends” took offense.  Sometimes, I’m even more mischievous than this with my not so friendly “friends”, who use Facebook to merely build their list, unaware that some of their “friends” aren’t really friends at all.

Herein lies the warning to corporate bloggers who seek to use Facebook for marketing purposes.

First of all, IT IS PUBLIC. True, it is not Googlable, and true, it is limited access, but every person who is in your Facebook friendlist, and their friends, will see what you do.  If you use Facebook merely to build a list to which you will market, you are completely missing the point of Facebook and walking into a trap.

Second, the point of Facebook is to INTERACT. Social media is about being SOCIAL with MEDIA, and that means that if you engage in Facebook, you should expect people to talk back to you.  Yes, Facebook will help you build a powerful targeted list, but that list is not static.  It will engage. And it will likely engage, at some point, unpredictably, outside your marketing strategy, and perhaps with critical intent.

Matt Bai certainly “friended” me as a marketing tool, as I’m sure any high profile columnist at any newspaper would do with any random person who friended them.  When Matt Bai found out that his Facebook list could talk back to him, put his comments on a blog, and make a fool of him for thinking Facebook is somehow “private communication”, I’m sure he was a bit surprised.

Corporate bloggers who use Facebook for marketing have a lesson to learn here.

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Entry filed under: political blogs, strategy. Tags: , , , , .

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