The PR State of Facebook

In a few days in Silicon Valley there were some rather unusual ideas, stories, and news articles, pitched that insinuated that Google was invading their users’ privacy. PR agency Burson-Marsteller, even offered to assist a highly influential blogger write an Anti-Google op-ed, promising him it would be posted in places like The Huffington Post or The Washington Post.

Not ignorant of their own share of privacy or security shortcomings, they were likely none-too-happy when Burson’s offer fell apart as the blogger turned him down, then publicly posted the emails in which Burton had asked him for assistance in publicly maligning Google. Subsequently, this failure to communicate was compounded as USA Today latched onto the story and accused Burton of launching a “whisper campaign” about Google on the behalf of a client that was unnamed.

In a world of instant coverage on any type of event, those very elements on which Facebook thrives upon, it is quite difficult to understand how anyone at Facebook thought that it would be a remotely good idea, or one that was kept a tight secret. Is this a sure sign that Facebook executives are worried about recent Google social marketing elements such as the +1 system? Will their willingness to execute black hat behaviors cost them enough users to matter? Unlikely, but it has likely done irreparable damage to their reputation, at least for now.


Since many users may actually have seen or suffered from privacy issues from Google themselves. As usual, in most situations, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle of both sides. The problem is, Google has said very little about the incident and as of yet has made no public comment about the failed campaign. In a way, this could also lend the some weight to the original plan by bringing Google privacy issues even more into the public eye.

The real problem is that now that Facebook has made such an irrational and hasty decision that will likely cause them to suffer from some form of back lash, and any real issues that Google may need to address, could have been brought to light a bit more properly, will fall to the wayside as most publicity outlets and news releases will report it and spin it as the story in which Facebook failed in an underhanded campaign to publicly bash another company.

Love-Hate Relationship

Facebook’s most recent PR plan to smear Google was an embarrassment and failure on more than a public relations scale.

In the internet advertising world, Facebook seems to be on the losing end in effective marketing and product branding. If you monitor Facebook regularly, you know it is not uncommon to see someone ranting, raving, and railing at Facebook for some imagined, or even a realistic slight. A week or two later they are back, having forgiven and forgotten their source of displeasure, or at least enough to continue to use Facebook.

As Facebook has begun to integrate itself into everything from daily deal websites to major retail chain, we have largely come to depend on it as our go-to log-in integration of choice. This is predominately because Facebook integration sites will auto-complete most of the information that will commonly be required to complete a new registration for a website’s products or services. Users would certainly be frustrated and disappointed if Facebooks PR flog affected their Facebook experience.

Will Users Boycott Facebook?

Many groups openly boycott websites that make immoral or illegal decisions. However, just as many points above prove, it would be quite difficult to boycott a large interactive element of our social media usage, most certainly Facebook that so many now use for advertising, entertainment, social network, or even just chatting with long distance relatives.

 Of course there are a few obvious boycotting methods, anything from ceasing to use Facebook, refusal to integrate other programs and remove already integrated applications from your Facebook account, and even simply deleting your account.

PR on Facebook

Facebook has already proven to be an effective method of PR for a few businesses.

  • AT&T
  • Microsoft
  • WordPress
  • Coca-Cola
  • The New York Times

Although likely the best representation of the shortlist, many other smaller businesses have also found great advantage to applying Facebook capabilities for better consumer interaction.

Business Promotion

Facebook has proven a very handy tool in managing membership relationships for fans of your products, or even groups related to your business. This is a very cost effective tool for group, member, or fan management that will allow users to create events calendars, or even just supply other leads and information that could provide additional networking benefits for those same consumers.

Facebook Connect

Adding this handy tool allows users to quickly register with your website by allowing them to approve Facebook integration. This easy option is highly encouraging for those who may not want to spend time filling out many fields, even those who have interest in your brand.

Brand Affinity

One of the most important public relations elements that can be satisfied via Facebook. If you have a product or service that directly, or even indirectly meets a need and connects a user to their Facebook presence. With the text and visuals you have the ability to provide for easy viewing, this can be a great beginning in building the brand awareness that can be invaluable to your business.




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