Facebook backlash reaches the tipping point?
We've reported before in Monday mashups about the growing Facebook privacy backlash, but it looks more and more like a tipping point may have been reached; May 31st has been declared Quit Facebook Day and "how do I delete my Facebook" has become one of the most-Googled search queries of recent times. danah boyd argues that Facebook is now a utility in the same sense that water and electricity are, and should be appropriately regulated as such, while Ben Parr argues in defence of Facebook.
It's very easy to boil the whole controversy down into "Facebook should better protect its users" versus "users should learn how to protect themselves", but the points raised are more complex and subtle than just that. Jeff Jarvis's blog post on what exactly "public" means is a much more informative and nuanced approach to it.
...maybe not just yet
Don't dismiss Facebook just yet - those pages could still be worth a lot to you and your brand. And then there's Facebook's Community Pages. There's been some confusion about what they are, but Dave Fleet's analysis is quite helpful - think of it as "earned media" rather than "owned media". The difference between a Twitter search for your brand name, and your brand's own Twitter profile, if you like. A brand owner has no control over these pages - which is a double-edged sword; great for finding out what your consumers think of you in realtime, but without any real control or interaction. Jeremiah Owyang points out it's an example of Facebook's "Innovation Means Asking For Forgiveness Later" strategy - and it could by no means last; we already have Groups and Pages, and yet another form of brand interaction may prove too confusing or redundant for it to take. Nevertheless Jeremiah's advice is well worth taking.
Twitter's Business Center launches
Twitter has been quietly rolling out business features of its own. The new Twitter Business Center offers facilities for brand owners. It allows multiple users to handle the same account (incredibly useful for anyone offering 24/7 support) and allows people to DM brands, even if they aren't following them, so that sensitive info such as account details and email addresses can be safely exchanged. Meanwhile, the Promoted Tweets programme that was rolled out last month is reported to have been a success by the advertisers in the US who piloted it, with Virgin America recording its fifth-highest sales day in its history the day it went live.
In a separate move, Twitter is now parsing short URLs for keywords in searches, allowing you to get back not just Tweets, but matching URLs for your query. Great news for publishers but also for anyone gathering insights into what relevant conversations are linking to. In both cases, these are useful and timely improvements to the system, and a prime example of what Twitter does very well - innovating iteratively to meet the demands of the community as they evolve, as this excellent presentation by Jack Dorsey discusses.
Engagement rising as brand loyalty falters
Two very interesting surveys caught our attention this week. The first from comScore charts how brand loyalty is dropping compared to two years ago, with consumers deserting their traditional brands; this phenomenon is now spreading to sectors where it has not been previously seen, possibly because of the economic downturn. It looks like brands can no longer count on loyal customers as a base, which ties in with a separate survey by Hall and Partners which notes a positive correlation between engagement and profits. Of particular interest is the growing emphasis on integrity and corporate responsibility as part of brand identity, something which has been shown as evidence by the recent Nestle palm oil furore; it's further evidence of how integrity is an important factor in how a brand should engage online.
Travelocity: "ChatRoulette FTW!"
Apparently Travelocity's social marketing team have been hanging around on ChatRoulette a lot. Although they skimp a little on the details, they apparently entail having their mascot hang around and pitching to random people. Spamming? You be the judge of that. But this is the crucial bit for me:
No one in the wider world will know it was ever associated with those elements, unlike on Twitter or Facebook where a negative or disturbing Wall post or tweet can be read by everyone.
Problem is, this means nothing positive can remain permanent either. So when the person they've pitched is booking their holiday and trying to remember, or try and tell direct their friends to it, with no permalink, nor any way of finding it on Google, the recall factor is lost.
Finding the right fit between brand and community
News that Ford [disclosure: a We Are Social client] are testing their new cars with Mumsnet brought this revealing post from Reputation Online, advocating that these tie-ins only work if the audience are a perfect fit. While I don't think they have to be an exact fit (good marketing should never be just about preaching to the converted), the discussion of iVillage was very interesting - they have turned down offers from several brands as they didn't feel appropriate to the audience. They felt the importance of keeping the community outweighed the advertising revenue - something anyone considering a buy-in to a community site needs to keep in mind, especially when dealing with more traditional buying philosophies.
TopTable gets flak for censoring reviews
An example of how not to meet your community's needs is TopTable's recent admission that they delete negative reviews of restaurants. The reason given is that they could face libel accusations - which is no doubt a possibility if the reviews turn out to be maliciously false. But to censor negative reviews altogether destroys the point of the site - people join a reviews community is to give honest opinions about places; being able to get balanced reviews is central to its authenticity. Whether this is common practice across all restaurant review sites is not clear, but we really hope it's not the case.
Bloggers disagree with one another; film at 11
A PR blogger got annoyed this week at an ill-advised pitch he received. He blogged about it. A lot of other PR bloggers held a different opinion. They blogged about it too. Heated debate followed. That's it. Move along folks, nothing to see here. But if this a topic that particularly interests you then I recommend the Inconvenient PR Truth survey that is going round right now.
Choose Your Own Adventure on Twitter
And finally... we really liked this innovative "Choose Your Own Adventure" use of Twitter by French Connection - even though the chap in the background looks a bit like Sébastien Chabal...