Digital Insights

Part I: Are Facebook Changes & Privacy Concerns Impacting Your Brand?


Published: November 25, 2011

Is Facebook being unkind to brands?

With all the media and legislative attention on Facebook’s privacy practices, Digital EYE Media thought it would be helpful to brand marketers to assist them in their considerations of the impact the controversy may have on the brands of companies participating on the network. The major questions include:

First, is there a reputational risk?  Is that risk higher than the perceived rewards?  How can you manage risks?

Next, what do you want to do on Facebook?  What is your overall brand strategy and how does Facebook support that strategy?  How much interaction will you need with Facebook users to meet your marketing goals?

The answers to these questions might be affected by Facebook’s troubles over data tracking and privacy concerns.

Tracking Non-Member Web Surfing

Facebook is currently finalizing a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to resolve charges by privacy advocates that Facebook engaged in deceptive behavior in changes enacted to its privacy policies two years ago.  The social network website is accused of violating users’ privacy by making public too much personal information.

Even more controversial is what Facebook is learning about any and all visitors to its website.

Facebook officials are now acknowledging that the social media giant has been using tracking cookie technologies to create a running log of the Web pages that each of its 800 million or so members has visited during the previous 90 days.

Facebook also keeps close track of where millions more non-members of the social network go on the Web after they visit a Facebook Web page for any reason.  (The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.)

The stakes in this business drama are huge.

Corporate Brand Marketing Campaigns = Success

Pre-initial public offering (IPO) stock in Facebook has cooled down considerably since the summer, and private markets are having trouble hooking up sellers and buyers, according to multiple sources.  Business Insider reported Nov. 18 that Facebook employees are lobbying for an exit.  As the price of Facebook shares cools (down to $30 a share in the private markets from $32 last month), talk of going public is heating up at Mark Zuckerberg’s company.

The success of the Facebook’s IPO, expected sometime next year, hinges in part on the company’s ability to move beyond the bread-and-butter text ads that appear on members’ home pages and emerge as a key player in graphical display ads and corporate brand marketing campaigns, says Rebecca Lieb, advertising media analyst at the Altimeter Group.

In advertising, knowing as much as possible about consumers’ preferences is critical.

“More data means better targeting, which means more revenue,” says Marissa Gluck, managing partner of the media consulting firm Radar Research.

Because there are multiple ways for a company’s brand to interact with users through Facebook, the privacy implications will vary.  The good news is that you can choose a path with privacy risks that best meet your goals.

But brand marketers must also acknowledge what is happening:

From this point on, each time a Web surfer visits a third-party webpage that has a Facebook Like button or other Facebook plug-in, the plug in works in conjunction with cookies to alert Facebook of the date, time and Web address of the webpage the visitor clicked to.  The unique characteristics of the surfer’s PC and browser, such as IP address, screen resolution, operating system and browser version, are also recorded.  Facebook thus compiles a running log of all a surfer’s webpage visits for 90 days, continually deleting entries for the oldest day and adding the newest to this log.  Whoever visits Facebook or uses a plug-in must expect that he or she will be tracked by the company for two years.

This means that brands’ cyber-citizenship ethics will be challenged at all times.  What to do?

Part II:  Is Your Brand Cyber-Citizenship in Good Standing?

Contact Digital EYE Media for information on how to Create and Manage your Social Media Marketing Campaigns: P: (714) 556-0576;