What slowly began as a dorm-room phenomenon has developed into one of the world's most essential business strategies. Facebook advertising, pages, and places have positioned the social networking site as a staple in the marketing industry.
Social media strategies are important, but before businesses jump headfirst into a campaign, they may want to take a closer look at Facebook's power over every account, page, and photograph.
1. Forget control in this hierarchy; Facebook is king
Every Facebook page is assigned directly to a user. When a company's page is created, one user becomes its administrator. When that employee leaves or changes position, a logistical problem arises. Or, if the page administrator decides to disable his or her personal Facebook account, the company page also goes away.
Adding multiple administrators seems a logical recourse; but if Facebook views page activity as "suspicious," it may disable every account associated with it. Moreover, when an account is disabled, all of its pages, fans, content, applications, and ads are lost.
And the road to getting the account re-enabled can lead to a bureaucratic black hole: After you submit a form requesting the account be re-enabled, there is no support, timeline, or guarantee that it will be.
2. Facebook can can change features at the drop of a hat
Besides disabling an account without warning, Facebook also has control over when to change its layout, application programming interface, or setup. In all those instances, Facebook doesn't deal with the change; the user does.
Adaptability is not only important but also necessary for page owners. If Facebook goes down for an hour, or a day or two, there is little that can be done. Any post, photo, or video upload that was planned that day could be postponed due to a Facebook problem.
Another problem with Facebook use is that any user can tag any business, place, or person in a status update. You have no opportunity to review and approve the tag before it goes public. Therefore, companies have no control over the public information that is released via Facebook by third parties.
3. Facebook doesn't make money for its people skills
Facebook offers no customer service options for disgruntled users. There is no phone number to call or public support email address. Companies spend thousands of dollars on Facebook ads, and there is no representative to contact regarding their account.
However, it requires that its users be customer-friendly, as noted in its terms and conditions page: "You will make it easy for users to contact you. We can also share your email address with users and others claiming that you have infringed or otherwise violated their rights."
4. Though Facebook doesn't own your content, it owns access to it
Posting videos? Music? Photos? A company may spend thousands of hours building a new campaign, but once it goes on Facebook that content can be used however the Facebook staff chooses, as stated in its terms page: "You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook."
Along similar lines, if the account is disabled, there is no way to access its information, potentially leaving a company at a standstill. Facebook seems to work wonders for the companies that post the most content, but if that content ever becomes unavailable, the companies could be in trouble.
Since Facebook is a free platform, most users rarely see any cons. Even though we aren't paying in dollars to use it, we are risking our privacy, our information, and our companies, because the social media giant can knock us off its platform with the flick of a wrist.
Would you have joined Facebook had you known it would sell your data, exploit your content, and make billions of dollars—and still have the power to shut off your access at its own discretion?
5. Your content isn't protected or saved anywhere
Facebook advertising and applications have done quite well for many companies. But some companies are literally built with Facebook as the sole foundation of the consulting, the products, or the services they provide. Also known as the "single point of failure," this vulnerability makes businesses susceptible to Facebook's domination.
Have you worked for a year (or more) to build content and a following? All the money, work, and time spent adding content to Facebook could be gone with no means to retrieve it if a glitch or other problem results in its loss.
Furthermore, if the content is lost, it isn't worth more than $100.00, according to Facebook policies.
6. The fine print changes every day
Though a company may understand the rights and the privacy that it does or doesn't have in regard to its Facebook content, those rights can change in an instant.
Facebook has the authority to change its policies, terms of agreement, and codes of conduct for any reason, at any time; and as users, we must succumb to and accept the changes.
* * *
If Facebook is your company's primary means of generating traffic and revenue, diversifying your investment in other strategies may be a good idea.
We should all be skeptical of any business that controls so much of the market that it can destroy the competition, or even its own customers, without even flinching.
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