Behind the Noise: A look at Facebook and the Future Battle for Leadership with Google

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on May 17, 2010

Recently, we’ve endured a blizzard of articles on Facebook and its handling of privacy.  This is an important and serious issue, but the result is that Facebook has created its own cloud of noise that is hiding some really cool progress.  Here’s a summary of what I’m hearing that sounds leading-edge.

#1 – Open Graph has promise – basically, Facebook wants to map people’s relationships and their connections to all objects and content on the Web. For consumers, this is as simple as being linked to restaurants or books you may like.  For corporations, this has the potential to help us reach the right people within a 500MM+ population more effectively.  Open Graph could help us find all people, for example, interested in laptops or corporate social responsibility topics with greater ease.  We have talked about Facebook for several years as being “the fourth largest country” in size.  Well, it may finally be possible to start meeting like-minded citizens of this country village by village and individual by individual.   

#2 – The difference between links and Open Graph – we have been conditioned by search engines to view “links” as the most important way to get to your next piece of information.  With Open Graph, think of it as a way that these links are being bought to you directly based on your content patterns.   In reality, all search is doing is figuring out what you want.  Same with Open Graph, just without links.

#3 – The “Like” feature – this is a more precise way of the user saying what they believe is important.  This is actually better than a search engine trying to infer what you like from the words you use.  It is more direct. Facebook treats all people and things (movies, books) as objects.  They then map out the links between them, based on what people say they like.  It’s really our way of voting on what we like, so that we receive relevant content.  Once I thought that through, I started using the Like button more often.

#4 – The battle is over choice and informed consent more than privacy – what Facebook is not doing well is being super clear on what changes they want to make and why.  This makes the personal  user feel like they are being duped.  It is really more about the user having the right to choose their level of privacy in a clear-headed way.  Facebook has work to do here to make it simple.  My recommendation is they dust off their Marketing 101 text book.  We learned in school that every brand is defined by its promise to the customer.  If you start messing with that promise, you better be super clear on why.  You don’t just change things (New Coke comes to mind).  With Facebook, their promise included the belief that it is a walled garden…and your content is safe.   That’s a pretty big part of their brand DNA.  I wouldn’t take privacy lightly in the future and I would stop writing policies that are literally longer than the U.S. Constitution in length.   Time for the lawyers to take a vacation, perhaps.   

#5 – At the end of the day, Google and Facebook are starting a long battle for leadership —  Facebook is trying to add socially intelligent metadata to the entire Web.  Google has more data on what web pages we care about.  Facebook can figure out which pages/topics matter to real people far faster with their approach…..or can they?  The battle between these two titans is just getting started.  As they say in Vegas, let’s get ready to rrrrrummmmbbblllle……

#6 – Privacy is a web issue more than a Facebook issue – in general, anything that is online should be assumed to be available publicly eventually.  The online population is becoming increasingly comfortable with this reality, but it will be visited by bumps in the road.  It’s really a matter of how Facebook proactively explains its position in a way that is clear and easy to understand…..if they do this….people will spend more time reflecting on the tremendous progress they are making that is being overshadowed today. 

All the best, Bob

By: Bob Pearson

Bob is the President of W2O Group, an independent network of digital communications and marketing companies. He is an author, frequent speaker and instructor for Rutgers center for management development. After the success of his book Pre-Commerce, Bob is currently working on a new book on the future of media titled Storytizing that will be available in 2014. Prior to W2O Group, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell to develop the Fortune 500’s first global social media function -- an industry-leading approach to the use of social media, as highlighted in the best seller, GroundSwell. Before Dell, Bob was Head of Global Corporate Communications and Head of Global Pharma Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. He also serves on a variety of Boards in health and technology. Highlights include serving as an original member of the P&G digital advisory board and being appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as chair and vice chair of the emerging technology fund for the State of Texas.

Find me on: Twitter Facebook
Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on! Join the conversation #precommerce.

One Response

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Tweets that mention Behind the Noise: A look at Facebook and the Future Battle for Leadership with Google | Common Sense -- linked to this post on May 17, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Pearson and SunStar Strategic, davidweiskopf. davidweiskopf said: RT @WCG_Engage: Behind the Noise: A look at Facebook and the Future Battle for Leadership with Google […]

Some HTML is OK


(required, but never shared)

or, reply to this post via trackback.