How Facebook Will Steal Your Customers

Facebook_cracked_icon "The idea that a single company has that much control over your digital existence should be enough to scare anyone. Throw in the fact that Facebook is well known for its arbitrary suspending or deleting of accounts  and if their march for dominance on the Web doesn’t worry you … well .. here’s some more kool-aid for you."

[Steve Hodson, codenut]

Do you know what Facebook is going to do with your fan base? Whatever they bloody well please, that's what. They have a track record.

If you felt bad when we asked, how do you feel about Facebook owning your content? How do you feel when Facebook uses your database?

The value of a fan? Yeah, multiply that by 600MM — none of it yours except on borrowed or leased online space. It is a bad idea to put all of your data in any one basket you don't own.

When you build a program that relies solely on your Facebook page and with the main goal to increase the number of fans, guess what? You're doing Facebook a favor.

That database you spent social ad money to attract? It's not YOUR database. It's Facebook's, too.

Building a marketing program around a Facebook page is tempting, and it will allow Facebook to sell access to your customer base to a competitor.


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0 responses to “How Facebook Will Steal Your Customers”

  1. Thank you for emphasizing this point. Completely spot on. I wrote a post for DigiDay titled “Facebook Fans are Worthless”. (
    You hammered home the takeaways wonderfully: Facebook is an incredibly important experience and has to be a part of every brand’s marketing “toolbox” — but if you’re only highlighting a Facebook page, you’re doing a great job building Facebook’s brand, not yours.
    Thanks for making the case with such clarity — love it.

  2. Interesting point and worrying for FB marketers like myself. I recently uploaded 20,000 + emails from a client (opt in so all fine there). To invite existing email subscribers using the “Tell your fans” resource. Sat back and hardly a blip. I tested this using friends and my email.
    I have done some research into this and many of the FB blogs and forums say this doesn’t work. Apparently FB uses this data to ‘suggest’ your page not invite this. But are they just sucking up huge amounts of emails to use themselves?

  3. And the other part of this conversation is that companies like Facebook and Google are quietly building massive amounts of power. Thus far it’s been very mutually beneficial for these companies and marketers…but we have to keep them in check, and not fall completely dependent, build our own tribes and channels or else be completely at the mercy of these juggernaut companies.

  4. I think this is all consistent with my guest article last week on the continuing worth of blogs and branded websites.
    Facebook has value — but that value isn’t free. It’s reckless for business, in particular, to plunge into a Facebook program without considering potential downside. Sharing your proprietary information with Facebook (and perhaps your competition) is a real consideration.
    So is the possibility of weeks, months, or years of community development flying out the window if Facebook ever decides to arbitrarily blot your account off the face of the interwebz.

  5. Or the interwebz get tired of all the Facebook billionaire media coverage and moves on to the next MySpaceBook-type thing.
    Plenty of coverage lately suggesting increases in the number of people deleting their Facebook accounts in the US, UK, and EU. Much of the growth is in developing societies. The bigger you are, the bigger the target on your back. No shortage of FB animosity out there these days. How long before someone capitalizes on that?
    It makes sense to keep an outpost on Facebook, but that’s about it.

  6. Thanks for a very smart post that pulls no punches. I continue to be astonished by those who think putting all their eggs in Facebook’s basket is not only smart, but somehow mandatory “or-else-you-will-die.” As if that’s not bad enough, they go on to claim that you must also tear down or abandon your company web site, since nothing but FB will do. What are these people smoking?
    The content argument alone should be enough to dissuade companies from going all Facebook–even if their database of customers were “safe.” The rented space analogy is right on.
    For a company to abandon their site and go all Facebook would be like a sharecropper selling their only acre of land in order to expand their lease operation with a plantation.

  7. one tactical execution, not the whole thing. Thank you for sharing a link to your take on the question of worth. I wrote a post at about the time that conversation was heating up that said “how much is your brand worth to a fan?” I believe that’s the right question.

  8. an educated guess on both of our parts would be based on their track record. Given how unstable that platform is on top of constantly changing rules, I recommend focusing on building value in owned Web properties with the earned and paid to support those.

  9. that article inspired me to dig deeper and curate my own archives and content for a more meaningful experience. So thank you for that.
    I continue to use the Facebook page as a place to communicate and inform, an outpost. As you know, I never use my profile.

  10. people have been asking “what is the next Facebook” for a while. As long as we focus on the shiny objects, we lose sight of what is within our control – building community, delivering great experiences and service, and providing value at every interactions. The rest is tactics 🙂

  11. there’s a little of bit of small town effect — everyone is doing it, we can do it, too — going on there. People still get things done through search and offline, yet I don’t see much of a rush to improve Web properties, navigation, experience, content, etc.
    Call me old fashioned, I think there is value in building and nurturing your own community.

  12. I completely agree with you Valeria. Use Facebook as a tool to build a relationship with your customers, serve them, and when Facebook decides to take them away, it won’t matter because you would have served your customers well and they’ll follow you!

  13. Facebook can be a great marketing tool, but it should really only be one part of an online marketing strategy. The best strategy is diverse. This is especially true because as you mention, you are putting a lot of power into other people’s hands, whether it be Facebook, Google, or any other outlet that is used to connect with customers.

  14. Interesting article. Facebook is definitely growing to be a giant in the digital world and has more or less monopolized social media. While I have fears that they will abuse users personal information down the road, I hope that Facebook will maintain its values as they continue to grow and revolutionize the web.

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