I remember back in the dark ages before there was this new fangled Internet thing, there was a grassroots campaign by a company that dared challenge one of the dominant players in its industry.
It was in Boston and that company that dared challenge the dominant player was Ben and Jerry’s. These two hippies from wherever took on Haagen-Dazs (My apologies on the brand spelling. Due to my typing deficiencies this is an umlaut free blog) which, at the time was owned by Pillsbury. Pillsbury was trying to muscle the new kid on the block from freezer space in stores in New England at the time. They were telling their distributors and stores to get Ben and Jerry’s out of the market. Not smart.
Ben and Jerry did the offline equivalent of building a community by starting a campaign with T-shirts, bumper stickers and much more that simply asked “What’s the Doughboy Afraid Of?”. Simply put, it worked.
Fast forward a lot of years and we are seeing something possibly playing out with one dominant player in social media, Facebook, and the new kid on the social media block, Google+. Granted this is an imperfect comparison but please play along rather than just point that out :-).
It seems that Facebook is not very happy about Google+. How do we know? Well, as cnet reports there is one fella who found out that advertising on Facebook to get Google+ followers is going to earn you a visit from the Facebook Ad Storm Troopers and have you removed from the Facebook ad game (completely).
App developer Michael Lee Johnson, conscious of the need to be big on Google+ or be nobody, wondered what the best way to levitate his Google+ circles might be. He hit upon a fine idea: he placed an ad on Facebook. It was a simple thing that was headlined: “Add Michael to Google+.”
The copy read: “If you’re lucky enough to have a Google+ account, add Michael Lee Johnson, Internet Geek, App Developer, Technological Virtuoso.”
Now just to continue the Michael Lee Johnson “more publicity than you could have gotten through just a Facebbok ad” tour here is the ad for you to see. Nice chapeau, Michael!
Well, what did that get Michael from Facebook? The following.
The folks at cnet did a little digging in the Facebook terms to find this as possibly the explanation for their complete annihilation of ol’ Micahel Lee’s Facebood advertising efforts.
Or perhaps Facebook, its nose feeling tweaked, merely decided to reach for 6a of the same Advertising Guidelines: “We may refuse ads at any time for any reason, including our determination that they promote competing products or services or negatively affect our business or relationship with our users.”
I realize this is one instance and it isn’t quite a trend but it is interesting. I figured I would see if I could find a Facebook paid ad on Google and it didn’t take long. (Why Ask.com is placing is a whole other discussion for another time).
So what’s your take on Facebook not only trying to prevent their users from mentioning Google+ in an ad? Was this a little harsh? Could Facebook have just eliminated the ad and not whacked poor Michael Lee’s efforts to give them his hard earned money for other ads he might have placed?
As for Michael? Well let’s just say he’s fine.
For now, Johnson’s only public statements have been: “LOL.” Oh, and “Facebook. You Suck.”
And his Google+ page.
So do you think Facebook is afraid? Well, I am printing “What’s Facebook Afraid Of?” bumper stickers and T-shirts as we speak.