It’s not generally well known that when you click the Facebook ‘Like’ button on a website, you’re giving the author of that Button permission to message you in a newsfeed. So, if you LIKED a bingo card while shopping, then the owner of that site has the opportunity to message you when it goes on sale by way of your newsfeed.
It’s a point brought up by Patio11 (Patrick McKenzie) over at Bing Card Creator. He’s a great entrepreneur, and I dare say, analytical thinker. His concern is that this functionality will enable marketers to spam people.
It’s a valid concern.
The world is filled with absolutely stupid and inconsiderate people. Just look at what they’ve done to email:
It’s an open standard that enables, to this day, tens of thousands of spammers to generate incredible volumes of unwanted messages. In spite of them, email marketing continues to be very useful for customers and extremely cost effective for marketers. Utility survives in spite of the negative externalities generated by the few. I value many of the communications I have opted to receive from companies. My of my friends have views that intrigue me and I have subscribed to their newsletters.
By the same token, if I figure a company is no longer telling me things that are relevant to my interests, I will hit the spam button. (Most companies fail in terms of compliance with unsubscribes lists…so, why not hit the spam button?)
Ultimate control rests with the consumer. Which is why on this whole Facebook Like button side, I predict that in spite of stupid people, it will end up being a net positive in the end.
In one breath, there will be people who simply generate irrelevant content in a bid to drive impressions. Such marketers will completely endanger brand equity and could significantly erode the value of their fan bases. Such negative behavior will correct itself out sooner (if they have a measurement program in place) or later (when they burn through 250,000 fans in a month).
In the other breath, I believe that such behavior will be corrected over time. Indeed, Facebook, by virtue of it not being an open standard like Email is, will have to gradually police it. Consumers will LIKE certain things so that they can get updates about those things ported directly to their newsfeed. At least, that’s if marketers are quick enough to demonstrate that kind of utility, and customers ultimately derive utility. It’s in Facebook’s best interest to curb spam so that the user experience is good. That’s not to say that companies always execute strategies that are in their best interests. (But there it is.)
To Patrick’s other points – especially around permission and education – perhaps.
I thought everybody concerned was supposed to quit Facebook. That’s not to say they should tempt a Congress filled with politicians who demonstrate a need to protect. They shouldn’t. That is their choice, now isn’t?