Is Facebook completely nuts? In Austria at least that's the impression you get. I only recently reported on the Innsbruck case. Hannes Treichl had his well visited fan site taken away and given over to Innsbruck Tourism. The removal may be in itself totally legal. But to take all the fans over to a new site without even asking them is outrageous and highly dubious.
And what I find even more thought-provoking is that fact that Facebook – as the worlds largest communication channel – has not bothered to communicate with the people using its own platform.
Facebook + Communication = a dead loss!
For days now Hannes Treichl has been waiting for an official statement from Facebook about his case, a statement he was promised in a phone call. Since then total silence. Is that how your most active users should be treated?
It appears Facebook doesn't give a damn! Trust that has been built up over the last 2 years is being trampled on. And it is becoming clear now who actually owns Facebook pages – Facebook do! Not the person administering the page.
Now another, more prominent case has popped up. Two days ago the Facebook page for Vienna Tourism, instead of the 6,000 fans it had boasted on 28th October 2010, suddenly had 145,000 fans. Wow! On the Vienna page this can be read:
Dear Vienna fans! Our Vienna tourism fan page has been merged with other Vienna pages. We're really pleased to have such a lot of fans. On this page you will get up to date information and (insider) tips from experts on Vienna. To be able to offer you a better service in the future, we are asking: what would you like, what are you interested in: culture, concerts, events, food and drink...? We looking forward to hearing back from many of you!
Possibly brought about by the countless comments on, opinions and criticisms of the way things are happening in the social web, during the course of last weekend administrators of Facebook pages with the name Wien, Vienna etc were informed via succinct messages that their websites had been taken over. If there were any objections, a complaint could be instigated. What happenend next: user numbers for the Vienna Facebook page jumped sudenly from a few thousand to 143,000 – the fans had been transferred too – whether they wanted to be or not!
I have just been speaking on the phone with my colleagues at Vienna Tourism to get their side of the story – the result: they are amazed themselves at the sudden turn of events with Facebook. The Vienna Tourism colleagues found it hard to deny that they now have resulting unwanted negative PR via comments or posts to deal with.
Facebook is starting totally openly, at least in Austria (I have no idea what the picture is in other countries), to utilise its position as market leader and to take huge advantage of the owners' rights it undoubtedly holds. At the expense of normal, involved fans and in favour of strong brands, the ones who often have problems in interacting in an authentic and relaxed manner or in forming strong connections with their fans. They often lack the finger tip touch and the right strategy to deal appropraitely with a community.
Is the power shifting on Facebook? Thats the impression you get. And I, at least, don't like it at all. There is a possibility a paid-for model for Facebook pages is being put together, as I have suspected for a few months. I am positive – it will come.
I will in future always discuss in detail with my clients, as has happened in the past, whether creating a Facebook page is effective and makes sense. Or whether other elements of social media would be more exciting. At the moment social media is much to heavily concentrated on Facebook for my taste. But social media is not just Facebook! Social media is (happily) much more multi-faceted. There will be another article about this tomorrow (here a link to "Social Medis is not just Facebook").
I am saddened by the way Facebook has acted here. Owners' rights are right and important. And that brands should have certain rights is absolutely appropriate. But to hit involved fans with a sledgehammer and to avoid (as Facebook) any communication about it, does not fit the image of the Social Web's forerunner. Facebook is threatening to develop in a very unattractive direction. If there are more such instances, they will lose much of their reputation and with it many involved fans.
Which would be a shame. Because I still really like the platform.
- Facebook dreht durch – Innsbruck und Wien mit 139.000 neuen „Fans“ auf Facebook (Teil 2)
- Die „gestohlene“ Facebook-Seite – Innsbruck auf Facebook (Teil 1)
- „Unser Star für Oslo“ und die Fans auf Facebook
- 10 Bausteine für eine erfolgreiche Facebook-Fanpage – 1.000 Facebook-Fans in 6 Wochen
- 10 Faktoren für den Erfolg einer Facebook-Seite: 2.000 Fans in 2 Monaten am Beispiel von McFit
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