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Why Facebook is dumber than Google

I took last week off, and it was a big week for Facebook watchers. Facebook decided to change its terms of service, putting its millions of users on notice that Facebook owns their data and isn’t planning any opt-out mechanism. Now, to many observers, including Chris Brogan and me, it’s not news that free Web services own the data posted to them, but this Facebook announcement caused a firestorm, and Facebook backed off before the week was out. Watching this play out caused me to realize why Facebook is dumber than Google.


So, Mark Zuckerberg, you probably aren’t listening to me, but I have some advice: Stop being so damn innovative on privacy.
If you are able to learn anything from Google, you should learn from Google’s strategy on privacy. They actually go out of their way not to blaze trails. Google’s strategy seems to be to watch and see what is accepted and what creates firestorms (they’ve been watching you at Facebook carefully). Google wants to be a follower on privacy and learn from what others do.
Google needs to act this way, because they are so large. They are too big to experiment with privacy, which is the third rail of Internet marketing. Mark, you’re too big to do it, either.
I know that you still think of yourselves as an upstart. You wish you has a tenth of the resources and profits of Google. You think you’re still an underdog. But the public doesn’t see it that way. The public thinks you are a big fish–a huge player.
So, stop experimenting with privacy and start letting others do the testing. You can then follow along once the public tells you what they’ll accept and what they won’t. Google rarely gets pilloried for privacy missteps, even though they have control of loads of information. Figure out how to slowly and quietly do what’s acceptable rather than constantly testing the boundaries.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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