4 Lessons for Brands from the Facebook Terms of Service Controversy

facebook-update-on-termsIn a marvelous case study for brands who worry about how to handle the today’s highly vocal and hyper-empowered customers, Facebook last night changed its response to the controversy around its new Terms of Service.  In Monday’s post, Zuckerberg asked users to “trust” the company with their content.  Last night, Zuckerberg announced the company would revert to its original terms and involve the Facebook community in the process of crafting a new, revised Terms of Service.

Today, there is a very visible box at the top of the Facebook home page, inviting users to join the newly-formed Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities group.  (I’m not able to get the group page to load right now – probably because of a combination of high traffic to the group and working from a flaky connection – I’ll check back on that later.)


Four lessons for marketers and brands:

1. Listen to your customers

2. Tell them you’ve listened and understand their concerns

3. Get them involved in the process of addressing those concerns–especially when there is are inherent conflicts or complications involved, as there are in this case.

4. Be transparent about the decision-making process

With last night’s decision, Facebook has bought itself a chance to restore its credibility and trust with its most vocal customers.  And those vocal customers – the ones who blog and twitter and comment – are the ones who will influence everyone else.

Yesterday we expressed concerns about how the Terms of Service impact brands and their ownership of content that may be shared on social networks.  Professional content producers still face potential copyright and intellectual property questions when they share access to their content through social networks.  Perhaps some of those issues will be addressed as part of this process, too.