Your Facebook updates are going public. In what’s being viewed as a response to twitter’s success, and as a protective measure taken before a release of revamped Facebook search, user updates will soon come with privacy controls.
From the release:
Today, we’re launching a beta version of an improved Publisher–the main place to add content such as photos, videos, and status updates on your home page and profile. The new Publisher has been streamlined a bit, and its most significant improvement is the new Publisher Privacy Control that gives you the opportunity to answer the question, “Who do you want to tell?” as easily as you answer the question, “What’s on your mind?”
There’s been a lot written for and against Facebook’s policy. So I’ll refrain from adding to that conversation. But I do want to go down the trail of implications and consequences a bit, as they are interesting. Particularly from the brand’s perspective.
Consider what brands might be able to do, if the analytics tools, campaign monitoring and management services, and campaign managers themselves had the resources to go micro:
- brands will need to develop policies for whether or not to read customer profiles (“profile” here broadly defined as profile, updates, activity feeds, etc)
- profiles may be collected over time
- profiles may be analyzed over time
- social graph information could be used to create social context for a customer: psycho-demographic, consumer interests, personal interests, type of social status, types of online behaviors, type of online personality
- profiles may be categorized, for a new kind of market segmentation
- profiles may be used for market research
- profiles may be used for search engine optimization enhancement
- profiles may be used for future advertising and marketing approaches (advertising into the feed, flow, stream, status update, etc)
This is not exhaustive. Semantic and sentiment analysis could be applied to profile content. Social network analysis could be applied to friend relationships. Conversational analysis to styles of online talk, and activity analysis to online use habits and behaviors.
But much of this is speculative. Most advertising agencies have yet to establish an ROI for micro-targeted ad campaigns. Most do not have the creative skills or resources (not to insult ad agencies — you’re brilliant!) to craft multi-faceted and multi-wave campaigns for proper targeting to audience sub segments. Imagine A/B testing multiple campaigns designed to reach friends of an influencer by means of the topics and interests in which the user has the most influence… But widespread use of this kind of approach is years down the road. On the road to (economic) recovery, perhaps.
Let’s conjecture nonetheless. What would brands have to consider, if they were to make use of information provided by user profiles? Brands would need a
- policy of use on whether or not to act on information learned
- they will need a disclosure policy, informing (or not) customers that they use social networking profiles to learn about customers
- they will need a communication strategy for how to reveal to customers what they know
- they will need rules of engagement to articulate the ways in which personal information gleaned might be used in communication or service to the customer
- they ought to develop a code of conduct that would include recommendations for respect of privacy (when users inadvertently reveal or disclose their own, or friends’ private activities, news, and so on)
Interesting, too, is who in a company sets these policies? What is the job title? And what does the job description look like? Customer privacy, profile reading, and relationship management would each seem to fall under separate roles today: legal, PR/Marcom, and marketing. Not to mention sales. But the information customers make available could be of substantial value to some brands (entertainment, lifestyle brands especially). Brands that make use of social networking profiles will be those that are capable of translating insights across departments, for a better understanding of who the customer is, how s/he relates to a brand, product, event, or service, and how to reach and communicate with him or her (and friends).
Facebook’s announcement: More Ways to Share in the Publisher