A Letter to Mark Zukerberg, Facebook Founder
[[Facebook]], the darling of web2.0 adherents faces its greatest challenge yet: How to monetize its enormous social networking capabilities?
The fiercely private company founded by Mark Zukerberg while a student at Harvard in 2004 is now considered to have over 60million users, making it one of the top places on the Internet tovisit, to upload photos and to 'hang out' online. In November 2007, Facebook received another $60 million injection, this time from Chinese tycoon Li Ka-shing, who joined Microsoft (investing $240 million in late 2007) in valuing the company at $15 billion.
The greatest assets of the company are the users' loyalty to Facebook. Young people connect with all their friends and friends' friends, sharing pictures, movies and commentary on just about everything. My kids use it all the time.
Partnerships are a good idea. But it was the way you partnered with these other sites – Travelocity, eBay, Blockbuster and Fandango among others – to integrate purchases with Facebook identities – that you broke a rule. You allowed a users' purchases to be involuntarily associated with other aspects of their life as represented on Facebook.
A huge uproar (moveon.org petition and advertiser withdrawals), forced Facebook to require optin permissions, yet more recently, it was reported that users' data is still sent to Facebook even for optout users.
These tests of users' privacy are indicative of a product management team that is out of control and not clearly understanding how far they can go, and how far they should not. In contrast, the Google anthem – do no evil – seems even now a wonderful idea.
In these cases, Facebook is capturing and manipulating the wrong information. Beacon should be discontinued immediately.
Instead, Facebook ought to think about how it can use [[metadata]] that it already has to create value and solve problems for marketers.
Mark, let me know if I can help brainstorm ideas on how to maximize the marketing potential of your service.
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