Cut off Nose, Spite Facebook

    August 7, 2007

Late last week, Virgin Media, Prudential, Vodafone, Halifax, First Direct Bank and the Automobile Association Ltd. pulled advertising from Facebook for fear of their ads being seen on the same page as the British National Party Facebook group.

With an astronomical number of page views and time spent on site, advertising on Facebook creates the opportunity for a massive number of click throughs. At the very least, it’s a great branding opportunity—if your ad is shown on the right pages.

Controlling your online image is an important part of branding, as is carefully selecting the sites where you advertise. You wouldn’t want your brand associated with a porn site (okay, depending on the brand, I guess). So, when debating whether or not to advertise on Facebook, let me give you one piece of information that may make all the difference to you:

People have opinions.

I just wanted to remind you that people generally have opinions. Not all of them will agree with yours—or that of your organization, company, brand (and other inanimate, intangible objects that aren’t supposed to have an opinion).

Social networks often become places where people share these opinions. (Yes, it’s more than just “What RU doin 2nite?” “Facebookin.”) And buying an ad that will run on all pages of Facebook may be displayed on some pages with far less agreeable things to say than the British National Party.

Even the most basic on-site advertising for Facebook allows advertisers to target their ad by gender, age and networks. Facebook should definitely offer an option to exclude your ads from specific pages of the site, categories of pages or both. But until then, take care before advertising there—pulling your ads is a much bigger deal than passing on them.