Friday, August 3, 2007

The Risks of Social Networks

Reported today (via Mashable) was how Facebook lost Vodaphone as an advertiser because its skyscraper ads were placed on the same page as the British National Party (a far right party that wants to rid the UK of all non whites). On that same page were T-Mobile and Virgin Media which so far have not said anything. This is just another example of the difficulty with advertising on social networks. The message cannot be controlled. I cannot imagine actually having someone troll through each and every single page on Facebook to make sure that ads are placed exactly according to the criteria of the advertiser. Does ad placement make Vodophone guilty by association? Were these criteria even given to Facebook?

I think as brands we need to understand what is happening within the Internet and that we cannot control the message as much as we'd like. Look at what happened with GM and their viral video contest. It would be a different issue if Vodophone ONLY showed up on the BNP's page. Regardless, as brands we need to tell media outlets what we definitely do NOT want to be associated with. To have Facebook assume that they don't want to be on BNP's page is ridiculous. We are losing control whether you like it or not so we have to adjust ourselves for it. Provide media outlets with criteria that would cause you to pull your advertising; but don't try to ask them to read your minds...

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