Facebook's 3 Fatal Flaws
Most of us don't see Facebook doing anything wrong by dominating the internet. After all, it's free. While we're not paying for Facebook in dollars and cents, we are paying for it by risking our privacy, content and now our businesses to a company that can turn us off with the flick of the wrist.
As a social media consultant, I’ve always been leery of advising my clients to invest in Facebook. My fear is that the company would be forfeiting their investment on a platform that may or may not be here in a decade.
In recent months, however, I've started to believe that the risk of Facebook disappearing has largely subsided. Therefore, I’ve been more open to speaking with clients about building strategies within Facebook. I do caution them to be aware of the intent of the audience on Facebook. I don’t believe too many folks log in to Facebook to make their next purchase online; it’s largely a social network built for communication.
The addition of business resources and features has largely been an afterthought for Facebook. Those of us who have attempted to merge Facebook Pages and Facebook Places have seen the terrible results. And thanks to no separation of personal profiles and business profiles, I’ve witnessed firsthand the devastation that Facebook can cause when disabling a single user account.
When Facebook recently thought one of my clients had suspicious activity on its Facebook page, it disabled every administrator’s account. That, in turn, disabled my account, which disabled all of my pages and applications. Here's what I learned from this experience:
1. Facebook lacks customer service resources. There's no phone number to call or support email address, regardless of how much money you've spent with Facebook on advertising. After a few days of wondering what happened to my account, it was re-enabled just as mysteriously.
Turns out my client had a friend of a friend of a friend at Facebook who was able to pull some strings and get our accounts re-enabled. It’s nice that I have distant friends in my network that can help in a situation like this. Does your business?
2. You may own your content, but Facebook owns access to it. Posting videos? Music? Photos? Make sure you read this in the fine print on Facebook: "You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook."
Wow. When your company spends thousands of hours on a new campaign that goes viral, it’s nice to know that Facebook can use that content however it likes. Kind of scary.
Facebook may say that you own your content, but the fact that it owns access to it puts your business dead in the water when it’s not available. When my account was disabled, there was no way I could log in to retrieve my content. Nor was I allowed (per an email from Facebook) to register another account. Even if I could, I had blank, unpublished pages that would be presented to folks trying to connect with me on their platform.
3. You don't have any recourse with Facebook. The road to get your account re-enabled once it's disabled is a dead-end. You’re asked to submit a form in order to be turned back on. I only received a single, automated message to verify my identity.
Imagine that! All of your work, content, fans, pages and applications gone in the blink of an eye, with no recourse for your business. I personally spent thousands of dollars on Facebook Ads to grow a following on a few of my pages. All of it was gone when my account was disabled. When my account was finally re-enabled (with no communication from Facebook), I had to republish all of my pages.
Is this a risk you’re willing to take with your business? My advice at this point would be absolutely not.
If Facebook is your primary means of generating traffic and revenue, begin diversifying your investment in other strategies as well. Use Twitter, invest in search, develop a blog and own your content on your domain.