Facebook, Privacy & PR

Yesterday afternoon I sat down with the folks from PR Week for the Video Podcast to discuss the recent changes to Facebook's privacy policy, and how they have handled the PR around it. Here is the vid;

This was filmed ahead of last night's announcements from Facebook about the next steps in Privacy control with the "masterswitch" that will be rolling out to users in the coming days.

Below is the video posted on the Facebook blog from Mark Zuckerburg about the new changes. Which, in terms of content is great. It terms of delivery however... well it speaks for itself - AWEFUL. A monotone CEO is every PR's nightmare, let alone visibly reading from an AutoCue. Now we all know Mark has never been the best communicator, he is no Steve Jobs, and we have no reason to expect him to be.

However as I mentioned in the podcast - we are talking about one of companies that is encouraging and enabling, sharing, openness and sociality - and they respond to a problem that effects nearly 500 Million people in a totally unsociable way.

So what can we learn here?

Simply:

  • Respond early and openly - don't hide in the shadows of a looming crisis, move swiftly
  • If your brand image is one about friendship and community - choose spokespeople that reflect that brand image
  • If you are socially enabled business - BE SOCIAL - use what is at hand to your advantage - a direct link into the homes of over 500 million people is a tool worth using when necessary

Social Media Measurement - A Search For A Unified Theory, PART 2

Blowing our own cover…

You see the honest truth is that, as anyone who has been around advertising, direct marketing, experiential, public relations or “New PR” for any length of time knows that at some point the ROI figures that make or break client relationships were at some point or another made up. This is not a new point, and I do not wish to labor it here, but it is a good one to make, as it puts all of this debate around the measurement of social marketing in context. The fact is at some stage or another in the offices of professionals around the world men and women sat down and looked at their sums and made assumptions about how much what they were doing for their clients was worth. These assumptions were not fool proof by any means, but neither were they shots in the dark, but either way at some stage a leap of faith was taken and these professionals put down their tent pegs and said, “this is how we are going to do it”.  At which point it became purely a matter of who could come closest.

If a man stands at a distance from a wall and then periodically halves that distance and halves it again, and then continues to repeat the process he will get to within a point that subatomic forces will not allow him to actually ever come in true contact with the wall, however he comes close enough that he rounds down to zero and concludes he has indeed reached the wall. (More on that here - it's called Zeno's Paradox) In much the same way with this kind of measurement was refined and refined by those who sought to answer the question until they came within what they deemed to be small enough measures of discrepancy that they rounded down and concluded they has indeed reached their wall – that all hallowed ROI figure.

However in an industry as young as my own, if is difficult to make such assumptions, as we currently still seem a great distance from that point in which can round down. This is for a a variety of reasons, although the traceability of online interaction is so clear, the way in which people interact is not such a tangible, and indeed measurable fact as it may at first seem. This is in part due to the ever changing ways in which people use the web, services like Second Life, Twitter and even the likes of the Disney owned Club Penguin (in which children can interact within one another by manipulating the life of their own Penguin on it’s own island) are changing the way that people use the web, meaning that in reality if we are to ever reach our rounding down point we must consistently and regularly reevaluate the criteria which we measure the social web with.

Having said this however, it is fair to say that even with the new and emerging platforms that the web has to offer, the task at hand has not changed from the three pillars that I outlines above, reach, perception change and call to action (CTA) are still the primary goals of our clients, and these goals have clear results in people, be they on the web or in the coffee shop.

If you missed part 1 of this article - find it here: PART 1

Sociality, n.

The rules, well maybe not rules, but the ways we share stuff online is beginning to change. For those at the top of the curve (social communication addicts / tech enthusiasts) this is nothing new, but for many (scratch that - MOST) people the changes to what and how you share your life with others may be far more subtle.

The image above, coupled with the announcements last week at F8 (Facebook's Developers Conference) has got me thinking about this, how there are some very subtle nuances about what we do in the online world. For most people whether you become a "Fan" of something or a "follower" or as with the updates facebook are bringing in just "Like"ing something, doesn't play a bit part in your decision making process to make these actions, for many they are just automatic.

There is something deeper going on here I think - a new form of consumerism if you will. For decades since the consumer revolutions of the early 60's (Mad Men anyone) people have consistently been more and more defined by what they buy. That self definition then became public when those goods or services that you have cashed into begin to be publicly on show (i.e. take the car out of the garage, branded shopping bags over plain paper or books getting covered jackets, rather than functional spine-based titles).

However as more and more of these goods and services become intangible (Insurance, Shopping Delivery, eBooks), and particularly the process for buying these moves online we verge on the edge of moving away from this purchase=self definition model. Or, maybe not.

It appears now that as the web moves into the era of the "open-graph", where our online social (and commercial) activities are enabled to be public, shared and real time, a new form of consumerism is being born, one where we are actively choosing to share, like, tweet, buzz or blog our purchasing behaviour. This of course drastically impacts the way in which brands harness these actions, or more to the point proactively encourage them, but I think it begs even bigger questions for consumers - what will be your level of "Sociality" and how will you govern that, what rules are you setting, what is too much or not enough.