I finally got around to setting up a Facebook profile yesterday and first I must say that Facebook is going to kick Myspace’s you know what. Myspace may not all but disappear off the planet like Friendster, but Facebook will soon be number one from what I’ve seen.
First off, the Friendster application is infinitely easier to use, and I don’t seem to be getting friend requests from random people I don’t know. Facebook is also making the genius move of setting itself up as an application platform and opening itself up to the innovation of third party developers. Facebook has had the wisdom to create an advertising revenue sharing model for these applications, enabling both itself and the developer to profit from the creation of a richer, infinitely customizable user experience. I’m even entertaining the idea of dropping off Myspace in protest of what I see to be a hard to use, prescriptive and flat environment. Seeing the difference between Facebook and Myspace, I wonder how many of Myspace’s superior user numbers could be attributed to people like me who have a Myspace page but don’t really use it and haven’t bothered to kill it off?
I did see one thing in particular on Facebook that the marketing and branding part of my brain latched onto. It was a security mechanism commonly used to fight automated submissions on web sites, obscured text that appears when you request to add a friend. It said “fontenont financial” and I thought “Wow! What an interesting way of helping companies increase their brand awareness!” Of course I then went to live.com and searched for “fontenont financial”, assuming that this was a revenue stream that Facebook had dreamt up, only to find out that the company doesn’t exist. It brings up a question though:
Should web sites using obscured text verification systems allow other companies the opportunity to pay to have their brand or their tagline featured?
This could be a particularly useful advertising medium for security software companies like Computer Associates, Symantec, and McAfee, or physical security companies like Brinks. On Facebook in particular, a mechanism like this could also be a good place for companies like Harry & David and Teleflora to bring their brand top of mind when people are thinking about their friends and pending gifts for birthdays and special occasions.
Would this kind of advertising be impactful or annoying? What do you think?
Braden Kelley is a Social Business Architect and the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden is also a popular innovation speaker and trainer, and advises companies on embedding innovation across the organization and how to attract and engage customers, partners, and employees.