The Only Answer to Facebook Beacon is a Deleted Account

Marc Orchant, the other day, announced he was deleting his Facebook profile. For him, it came down to a matter of usefulness. I am considering also deleting my Facebook profile for completely different reasons – Facebook Beacon.

In case you’ve been under a rock for the past few weeks, Beacon is the program that Facebook marketed as a B2C advertising platform. Companies utilizing Beacon would benefit by automatically getting postings in the profile of a user utilizing the company’s website in some way, whether for purchase or otherwise. It was marketed to businesses as completely “opt-in” but as turned out to be exactly opposite.

The privacy concerns that have been demonstrated by the Beacon program is well documented. One guy bought his girlfriend a an engagement ring on Overstock.com and she found out about it by reading his Facebook profile where Overstock had posted this fact on the guy’s profile without him knowing. Personally, I’ve been dismayed to find my Gamefly activity documented as well as a car rental I purchased through Hotwire for later in the month.

Lots of people have proposed methods of “blocking” Beacon, but the fact is that whenever you are logged in, Beacon companies can (and will) post data to Facebook. Even if you opt to never show these details on your profile, Facebook still collects the data and quite possibly shares that demographic data with interested companies. Dare Obasanjo has detailed how broke Beacon really is

Awhile ago, I wrote an article entitled “The Art of War: Facebook’s Strategy for Ultimate Victory“. In that article, I outlined how I thought Facebook had made all the right decisions and as a result would eclipse MySpace and other social networks as the premiere network around.

I am taking that article back. Facebook has not only violated all sense of trust on this matter, but faced with the problems, they’ve only made matters worse. (Sidenote: If you have a few hours, go through these court docs and tell me at the end if you trust Mark Zuckerberg or find him to be completely slippery. Also read this lengthy “pieced together account” of Facebook’s origins).

The real question here is there any real way to opt out? I don’t think there is.

  1. The Privacy tab in Facebook – good for taking companies that use Beacon and that you’ve already engaged with out of a newsfeed – but what about future companies that I do business with?
  2. Companies still sending data to Facebook regardless of if I’ve turned the privacy level way down. What is Facebook actually doing with this data? Telling me that it will be deleted is not a good enough answer for me. Beacon should be opt-in ONLY at the Facebook AND vendor levels.
  3. The firefox extension for blocking sites. This is a good idea in principle but I shouldn’t have to do anything to maintain my own privacy!

To me, the only option here is deleting your Facebook profile – something I am very close to doing.

Cómo aprovechar la Reputación de Nuestro Producto

Manejando de regreso a casa estas vacaciones, vi un Toyota accidentado en el borde de la autopista y no pude evitar pensar “Es una trampa!” recordando el famoso comercial de Toyota (click aquí para verlo en YouTube).

En este comercial, el malo de la película se disfraza como una bella modelo en apuros, accidentada al lado de la carretera en su Toyota Corolla, pero es descubierta cuando sus victimas se percatan de que el auto es un Corolla y estos “no se accidentan.”

Toyota aprovechó la impecable reputación de su Corolla para crear este comercial. Lo interesante es que el comercial vino una vez que la reputación existía y no para crear esta reputación. Esta estrategia solidifica la reputación de Toyota como una marca confiable.

El caso contrario, tratar de convencer al cliente de una supuesta característica de nuestro producto casi nunca funciona (ver el caso de Wal-Mart y su blog) y menos ahora que estamos todos conectados, cualquiera puede montar una página web y nuestras quejas llegan a millones de oídos en un click.

¿Tienes algún ejemplo para compartir? Deja tu comentario y enciende la discusión.

Never Trust a Chef…

Remember Sy Sperling? He was the President of Hair Club for Men who is famously quoted as saying, “I’m not just the president, I’m also a client”.

Other phrases such as, “Never trust a chef who won’t eat his own cooking”, or similarly, “Never trust a skinny chef” have come to represent the sentiment that the best vote of confidence in a product is when the owner/producer/creator also uses it.

Last night, Biz Stone, one of the founders of Twitter blasted this message out to his Twitter followers:

looking at an email receipt from iTunes for a vampire series I apparently bought””but I haven’t any vampire shows!

Fairly innocuous, I suppose. I hope the series was Buffy. Sarah Michelle Geller is HAWT. The point is, unlike many CEOs and company spokesgroupies, Biz is not promoting Twitter outright. He is not telling people the multiple virtues of Twitter, or explaining best practices of Twitter. Perhaps because Twitter doesn’t lend itself to a defined set of rules defining what it is or what it should do, but that is beside the point. Biz’s endorsement of his own product is a plain, everyday use of his own product in a non-promotional way.

Marketers need to get this. CEO’s need to understand this. PR people need to learn this. Your best sales technique is the technique that is not a technique. It’s just use. We’re watching you and how you use your product. The best time to sell is when you are at your least salesy.

Your thoughts?

Nuevas Técnicas para Estudiar Comunidades Online

Tradicionalmente, los mercados analizados para publicidad han estado concentrados alrededor de variables demográficas como edad, sexo, ubicación geográfica y poder adquisitivo. Estas variables ya no sirven como únicas medidas para identificar una comunidad.

Las comunidades online tienden a crearse más alrededor del contenido que alrededor de las variables tradicionales, quizás porque en Internet las variables tradicionales quedan ocultas, permitiendo a personas de distintas edades, orígenes, y clases sociales compartir experiencias que normalmente no hubieran compartido.

Comunidades Creadas Alrededor de Contenidos

Mientras en el mundo “real” sería muy dificil conseguir adultos y niños compartiendo sanamente alguna actividad, en la Internet es muy normal encontrar grupos de adolescentes jugando en linea contra equipos de adultos, por ejemplo.

Las comunidades con más éxito en Internet están construídas alrededor de un contenido particular y no alrededor de un grupo demográfico en particular:

Siempre existirán productos que necesitan ser mercadeados alrededor de variables demográficas tradicionales (por ejemplo, productos de higiene femenino, algunos juguetes, medicina anti-acné), pero las oportunidades y herramientas para expandir los mercados nunca han sido tan buenas.

When a Brand Fades

 Today is the New, New Internet Conference, the biggest web 2.0 conference on the Eastern Seaboard this fall. More than 800 attendees are expected. The roster of speakers is impressive. The conference will focus on the larger business aspects of the new Internet economy.

Though I am one of the speakers, I will be in the lobby working during the opening keynote (as well as the first session).  Why?

aol_logo1) I need to get some work done. And 2) the opening keynote is AOL’s Vice Chair Ted Leonsis. And I just don’t think he or the AOL brand is that relevant anymore.  In short, this was one of the sessions I could most afford to miss.

Look, AOL does have some great things going on. My fellow panelist Frank Gruber for one. And no one can deny how powerful TMZ is in the gossip side of things.

But at the same time AOL the brand has faded, it’s lost its luster. And that’s because it’s not really dominating much, and its leadership — like Leonsis — seem to be following, not creating earth shaking vision.

For many, including me, AOL just means dial-up.  And that’s because the brand promise was safe, easy dial up access for so long it’s permanently etched into my brain. This is in spite of the many things AOL is doing in 2.0. And is it any coincidence that one of its most successful efforts is branded TMZ and not AOL?

Perhaps it is me, but wouldn’t all of AOL’s current social media efforts benefit from a re-brand.  I just think the dial-up legacy kills it. As a result the company seems to be fading. What do you think about AOL’s efforts?

Rant: Silicon Valley Fenetics

Yes, intentionally misspelled. Phonetics.

Phonetics and mashup are all the rage in Silicon Valley web 2.0 start-up naming conventions right now.  When it was Digg, FaceBook and Skype, this was different.  It was cool, fresh and neat.  You could not help but ask yourself, what’s that?!?

Now, it’s not cute anymore (‘sup Pownce and Jaiku!). Instead it signals, “Oh, another 2 dot-bomb.” OK, maybe we’re not there yet, but you get the point.

Branding gurus are charging clients tens, hundreds of thousands for not-so-cheeky plays on phonetics or slamming two words together.  Read TechCrunch, and you’ll find posts littered with examples:

Out of the three of these, there’s only one I like: TasteBook. Why?  Because it tells you or at least gives you an idea of what it does.  TasteBook allows Shazam-Poster-C10097475users to create and order custom hardback cookbooks (“tastebooks”). BTW, that’s what a company name is supposed to do. Tell potential buyers, partners and investors what kind of business it is.

One must wonder how much longer this latest naming fad will continue.  And if you don’t think it’s a fad, how many eGoofy cos and .bombs can you name in five seconds? Pets.com, eHarmony, eLuminant, etc., etc.

P.S. As a result of this rant and as a tribute to Doug Haslam, I’ve decided to rename my PR firm Shazaaamr.

La Regla de Oro de Twitter Marketing

This post is the Spanish-translated version of “The Golden Rule of Twitter Marketing“, published earlier on this blog. It was graciously translated by Twitter friend @cosmic_sailor. Gracias!

Usted conoce Twitter, correcto? Es la red social que trae a personas juntas en una conversación penetrante acerca de cualquier sucede en un momento dado. Como Mensaje Instantáneo o como Blogs. Pero en 140 caracteres o menos. Desde Blackberries y teléfonos celulares a applicaciones de la computadora y la red. Twitter es la manifestación de una nueva tendencia fresca de microcontent.

Yo adoro Twitter. Yo lo he estado utilizando desde febrero y mientras yo no fui el adoptador más temprano, yo fui un adoptador temprano. He visto Twitter surgir como el facto “atrás canal” en conferencias, el catalizador para el meetups improvisado y sí, como un dispositivo del marketing.

Cada vez mas, yo he mirado expendedores saltar en abordar el carro de Twitter, pero yo me pregunto cuántas personas realmente “lo consigue”. Vea, Twitter cultiva transparencia. Las mismas personas que dejan caer pepitas diarias de la penetración profunda en Twitter durante el día, quizan Tweet acerca de tomar sus niños al paseo. Cada vez más, la gente pueden Tweet sobre sus ubicaciones como ellos toman roadtrips con órdenes especiales destinadas para tramar su ubicación en un mapa. Estas mismas personas en el próximo aliento explican por qué es que esta compañía o el político son el trato verdadero.

La energía de Twitter está en la autenticidad y la transparencia. He dicho a menudo que la marca de fábrica no es algo que se puede controlar por las compañías. La marca de fábrica es controlada por los clientes. La confianza es controlada por las compañías. Si los clientes no confían en a compañía, su marca de fábrica es inútil. Si confían en a compañía, esa compañía ha asegurado a vendedor para la vida. La confianza es construida por la autenticidad, por la transparencia. Es la cosa que permite que las compañías funcionen en el siglo XXI.

¿Así que cómo trabaja Twitter para expendedores? Bien, para algunos expendedores, ellos son inconscientes a la transparencia. Por ejemplo usted siempre puede decir quién esta “en la conversación” y así más transparente y confiable, por mirar la proporción de “Seguidores” a “Amigos”. Nunca confíe nadie que tiene un número apreciablemente desproporcionadamente más alto de amigos a seguidores. Los amigos son definidos como personas que usted escucha. Los seguidores son ésos que escuchan a usted. La conversación de un solo sentido es nunca un gran catalizador para la comunicación ni transparencia.

Otros expendedores quizás sigaran mas gente y tendran muchos mas amigos que los siguen, pero si la totalidad de sus Tweets consiste en la promoción de sus productos, usted tiene una calle de sentido único. Otra vez, nunca confía calles de sentido único. Hay dragones en esas colinas.

Yo siempre encuentro obligando tremendamente los productos vía Twitter simplemente por entrar en la conversación con personas. Hay varias gente en Twitter que ha reconocido el poder de Twitter como un medio para la promoción, mas ellos comprometen sus seguidores en la conversación – a veces no relacionado a su producto. El asombrar dinámico aquí es la marca personal.

Cuando un ejemplo, NewMediaJim es un cámara de NBC. El no promueve realmente NBC en lo que él hace, mas todos estan enterados que NBC es su empleador y basado en ese conocimiento, es muy intuitivo leer sus Tweets acerca de sus varias excursiones en su vida de la carrera – entrevistas con gente, manejanadas a bases militares para encontrar con las gente militares que regresan de la guerra, etc. Esto obliga el contenido.

En la otra cara del juego de NBC esta el TodayShow, la fuente oficial de Twitter conectado a la exposición de la mañana de NBC. Aquí está un ejemplo de Twitter que vende ido malo. No hay conversación. No hay apelación de unir en la conversación de opf de comunidad. Es una oficina pública de relaciones que libera los comunicados de prensa sobre Twitter en 140 caracteres o menos.

Si tuve que detallar una Regla de Oro de Twitter, sera:

Píe acerca de otros al menos tanto como usted Pía acerca de usted mismo.

Cerciórese que sus esfuerzos del marketing en Twitter entran en la conversación. Asegure que usted promueva otra persona contento tanto si no más que usted promueve su propio. Cerciórese a personas saben quién usted es. Twitter es personal, así que construye su marca personal. Sólo ayudará su negocio. Confíeme.

The Golden Rule of Twitter Marketing

Para hablantes de español, leer Le Regla de Ora de Twitter Marketing.

You know Twitter, right? It’s the social network that ties people together in a pervasive conversation about whatever is happening at a given moment. Sort of like Instant Message. Sort of like Blogs. But in 140 characters or less. From Blackberries and Cell phones to desktop apps and the web. Twitter is the manifestation of a cool new trend of microcontent.

I love Twitter. I’ve been using it since February and while I was not the earliest adopter, I was an early adopter. I’ve seen Twitter emerge as the de facto “back channel” at conferences, the catalyst for impromptu meetups and yes, as a marketing device.

More and more, I’ve watched marketers jump on board the Twitter bandwagon but I wonder how many people really “get it”. See, Twitter cultivates transparency. The same people who drop daily nuggets of profound insight into Twitter during the day, might Tweet about taking their kids to the mall. Increasingly, folks are Tweeting their locations as they take roadtrips with special commands meant to plot their location on a map. These same people in the next breath are explaining why it is that this company or politician is the real deal.

Twitter’s power is in authenticity and transparency. I’ve often said that brand is not something that can be controlled by companies. Brand is controlled by customers. Trust is controlled by companies. If customers don’t trust a company, their brand is useless. If they do trust a company, that company has secured a marketer for life. Trust is built by authenticity, by transparency. It is the thing that allows companies to function in the 21st century.

So how does Twitter work for marketers? Well, for some marketers, they are oblivious to transparency. For instance, you can always tell who is “in the conversation” and thus more transparent and trustworthy, by looking at the ratio of “Followers” to “Friends”. Never trust anyone who has a significantly disproportionatly higher number of friends to followers. Friends are defined as people who you are listening to. Followers are those that are listening to you. One way conversation is never a great catalyst for communication or transparency.

Other marketers might follow lots of folks and have lots of friends following them, but if the entirety of their Tweets consist of promotion of their products, you have a one way street. Again, never trust one way streets. There’s dragons in those hills.

I always find tremendously compelling products via Twitter simply by engaging in conversation with people. There are a number of folks on Twitter who have recognized the power of Twitter as a medium for promotion, yet they engage their followers in conversation – sometimes unrelated to their product. The amazing dynamic here is personal brand.

As an example, NewMediaJim is an NBC cameraman. He is not really promoting NBC in what he does, yet everyone is accutely aware that NBC is his employer and based on that knowledge, it’s very insightful to read his Tweets about his various excursions into his career life – interviews with folks, drives to military bases to meet with military folks coming back from the war, etc. This is compelling content.

On the flip side of the NBC game is TodayShow, the official Twitter source connected to the NBC morning show. Here is an example of Twitter marketing gone bad. There is no conversation. There is no appeal to join into the community opf conversation. It is a public relations office releasing press releases over Twitter in 140 characters or less.

If I had to detail a Twitter Golden Rule it would:

Tweet about others at least as much as you Tweet about yourself.

Make sure that your marketing efforts on Twitter engage in conversation. Ensure that you are promoting someone else’s content as much if not more than you are promoting your own. Make sure people know who you are. Twitter is personal, so build your personal brand. It will only help your business. Trust me.