By Dr. Charles T. Kenny
The Right Brain People®
In our most recent blog series, we have been talking about brands that seemingly injure themselves, destroying brand equity for a variety of reasons. We titled the series “How to Kill Your Own Brand”.
We have received dozens of comments about this series of blog posts on the NFL, most of them extremely complimentary, telling us that finally someone has touched them in their hearts where they are with respect to this issue!
They see the owners’ failure to be proactive as a betrayal, which is how the customers and the fans react in all cases when brand managers are committing hara-kiri!
It seems that Facebook has committed one of the “mortal sins” of branding; by not protecting the privacy of its users! And, worst of all, it seems that Facebook did it through gross negligence and a serious contract violation or perhaps even in an intentional way.
How could all of this happen?
The latest news is that up to 87 million of its 2.2 billion users’ privacy may have been compromised. Violated is a better word for what has happened here!
Violated and Betrayed!
Is this the way the Facebook users feel about their window to the world of their “friends”?
We don’t know for sure, because there are no national polls yet. And, we have not conducted any Right Brain Research with Facebook users, but we have looked at these situations over the years from all sorts of perspectives and we can be sure that they do feel violated. Enough of them do feel this way to make big problems for Facebook!
Within days of the breaking news everyone seems to have been piling on. Including:
• Facebook Users
• Facebook Advertisers
• Conservatives: Many have believed that Facebook had adopted a systematic censoring posture toward them and toward conservative groups, by blocking their messages.
• Liberals who until lately have been Facebook’s biggest fans: They have also piled on over issues of confidentiality and privacy, now all of a sudden feeling the sting that others have been complaining about for several years.
• Both Democrats and Republicans: “Wow, how often does this happen?”
• Government regulators and politicians: Many have spoken out calling for regulations, along with the pundits, hinting that Facebook is a monopoly and needs to be broken up!!!
How do you lose almost all of your friends overnight? Ask Mr. Zuckerberg! He is the founder of Facebook and is automatically identified with Facebook in the minds of nearly everyone, users or not.
We call this a Right Brain Equation, when one word automatically evokes another word, person or place, to wit:
Facebook = Zuckerberg
Zuckerberg = Facebook
Shortly after the scandal broke he said he would testify in front of Congress if he is the “right person” to do so.
How pathetic! Doesn’t he have any advisors who know what they are doing? Or is he so arrogant that he would insist on ignoring them and do it his way?
Doesn’t he know that HE IS THE ONLY PERSON? No one else can speak for Facebook in a crisis like this one, because HE IS FACEBOOK, in the minds of tens of millions of people. He is the first “friend” request new Facebook users receive!
Finally, someone, the Facebook lawyers, the board of directors, other managers and executives, the users, etc. must have convinced him that he had to testify and now he has agreed to do so.
But will he say anything of substance?
We will see and hear what he has to say, but the problem is so huge that Facebook cannot even assess the extent of the damage in the short three weeks since the news broke.
So, what is he going to say? It is Tuesday the 10th of April and he is testifying NOW! Today!
He and Facebook have already stabbed themselves in the foot by running away and pretending the problem would go away.
Now it is crunch time, but all he can say or do is make promises. Promises to do the right thing and then to come back and report on it…
But what is the right thing to do?
The problem is that Zuckerberg broke his promises – spoken and unspoken promises in the minds of users and regulators – and now all he can do is make more promises.
This is what we call a Character Challenge and it is a Challenge of the first sort, no question about it!!!
Here is the bottom line:
Now that Facebook users feel that their privacy has been violated, how can Facebook make it better for them?
This type of situation is called BETRAYAL!
How can Facebook keep them as fans, as customers and as users?
What does Facebook say to the government, to their critics, to the press, to their advertisers, to their subcontractors, to anyone and everyone?
How many strikes does Zuckerberg get in the public square?