Thursday, February 19, 2009

Facebook retracts?...but why?

Something very interesting happened yesterday….

In a late-night blog post responding to the recent outcry over a recent change to Facebook's terms of service, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social network's TOS will revert to a previous version.

So what really happened? If you dig deep, you will notice the real reason behind this retraction. Facebook found itself in an unenviable position in the face of strong public activism. Now this public/consumer activism is not something new, but of late this silent force has gathered quite a momentum with advent of technology. So here we had 80,000 + facebook users signing up for People against the new Terms of Service’. Facebook certainly was not prepared for this backlash from its own user base.

Most organizations today are grappling with a force that they don’t understand, one that is growing all the time. This force is broad, ever shifting, ever growing, and it is global. It encompasses blogs, discussion groups, Wiki’s, You tube... Consumers whom we have never met are rating the company’s products in public forums that we have no experience with or no way to influence.

Any person today with a broadband connection has a substantially better chance of influencing the public's perceptions of billion-dollar corporations than ever before. People connect with other people and draw power from other people, especially in crowds. ( Also refer to my earlier post on Tuangou)

This trend is unstoppable, and it affects every industry – media, automobile, financial services, healthcare etc.

Take the above Facebook example – case was well argued by lawyers and founders, but they lost out to the most powerful force on the internet- the People. And as we found out- people empowered by technology, won’t always go along.

To understand this better –let's do a quick test. Just Google your (company name + complaint) on the internet and read the search results carefully.

And now tell me- Do you see this as a ‘threat’ or an ‘opportunity’?

I for sure know that we cannot stop it, but if we understand it well and see this as an opportunity, we can certainly thrive in it. We need to understand that the traditional hierarchy of companies is being replaced by networks. Networks do not obey strict organizational protocols. Can we think of ways to collaborate with customers and partners by internalizing the power of social networks? I think we can...

Do post your comments…


Preetam said...

What does "internalizing the power of social networking" mean... is it that organizations should behave like an online social network to interact with its customers/partners? If so, what are the practical areas of implementation...

Gaurav Sharma said...

Thanks for your comment Preetam.....'by internalizing...', I mean leveraging this social phenomenon for organisational gains. Yes, companies should recognize the power of networks, both internal and external, and effectively weave a cohesive strategy to guide this force in progressive direction ( be it for brand building,marketing, customerservice, innovation and feedback, organisation development etc)