If you have ever been in a meeting about digital media, at some point you will have heard the words "Facebook strategy". It probably came after my other two favourite words “viral vieo”.
Now, the reason that these words are so needlessly bandied about is that marketers understand one thing – the need to reach an audience. So with any number of reports indicating that people are switching off their TVs and turning on their PCs, there is little wonder that social networks hold us all in their thrall.
As a result, we are seeing individuals, businesses and agencies developing campaigns designed to do deep-dive into the socially-networked world (check out Julian Cole’s very handy list of Facebook campaigns). These executions bring brands up-close-and-personal – often employing the mechanisms (such as “friending and un-friending”) used by Facebook as part of the engagement strategy – see the Sacrifice 10 Friends for a Whopper campaign by Burger King.
A core component of these campaigns is the concept of “co-creation”. That means that content is produced by the participant (ie the holder of the Facebook profile) and the brand and/or Facebook. But a recent change in the Facebook Terms of Service sounds a potential death knell to such projects.
As Chris Walters explains:
Now, anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later. Want to close your account? Good for you, but Facebook still has the right to do whatever it wants with your old content. They can even sublicense it if they want.
This has huge ramifications for individuals who regularly upload photos, personal movies and so on to Facebook – after all, you will no longer be able to OWN your content. How would you feel about seeing your newborn child’s face on some advertising for Facebook? How would you like your wedding photo being used to promote a Dating application? I am sure you can see where I am going with this …
Now flip it over. How will marketers react when told by their agency that the content from a recent campaign is being used in unsanctioned ways? What happens if there is a retraction required (after all, the content remains the property of Facebook in perpetuity)? How will your brand and reputation be managed well into the future?
And what about bloggers who use a variety of applications to post their RSS feeds? Sure, like me, you may license your content under Creative Commons – but this changes everything.
This change in the Facebook Terms of Service is a significant about face in the way in which Facebook treats its members. It may be too late for the content that I ALREADY have on my profile, but I will clearly be more SELECTIVE about the content I upload in the future. Because I won’t just be uploading, I will be GIVING it away.
UPDATE: You can join the People Against the New Terms of Service Facebook Group and join the discussion with the Facebook spokesman, Barry Schnitt.