Facebook: it’s about money, not privacy

There have been lots of conversations recently about privacy, specifically in social media. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and head-honcho at Facebook, got very sweaty when discussing the topic recently. So if Mark Zuckerberg, one of the pioneers of the share everything world we live in, is getting sweaty about ongoing privacy concerns, then perhaps we should all be worrying.

But I don’t think it’s really about privacy. It’s actually about money. And egos.

Facebook is changing the parameters it originally set out when Facebook was created. It was about sharing, but sharing with your friends, not all and sundry. But why is Facebook making everything more public (even if it denies this change) and why does it keep ‘suggesting’ a new page for us to ‘like’. From a PR and marketing perspective, I’d say it’s because Facebook wants more people to engage with brands so they can charge more money to the advertisers of these brands. And also so that Facebook’s share price is as high as possible when it eventually lists.

Social media arose because people love to talk about themselves and they love to hear what everyone else is up to. This hasn’t changed. It happened digitally because that was the latest platform available. Brands jumped on the bandwagon and realised that you could talk ‘with’ rather than just ‘at’ people. But they were, and are, still trying to sell products and services at the end of the day. Money makes the world go round and I don’t blame Facebook or anyone else for trying to make their money.

It might be a little more annoying than it was before, with regular prods and pokes to adapt your profile to include as many brands as possible, but it’s still ultimately your choice how, or if, you use it at all. And it’s still great for keeping in touch with people.

Even Twitter, which originally proclaimed it would try and monetise its platform in ‘different ways’ has now started with straight-up advertising. It’s even led to a key developer leaving the company.

So, what’s the take-out? Don’t hide your true colours. Social media is a great way to make public relations campaigns fun and useful for both the brand and the consumer. But don’t let that stop you from saying what you’re selling and where people can buy it. It’s called business.

  • Alex Erasmus is an account manager at Bullet PR.

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