Brad J. Ward recently discovered that marketers from a company interested in reaching incoming freshman was out disingenuously making hundreds of X University Class of 2013 groups on Facebook. The perspectives from both Ward and his commenters are worthy of some deep consideration.
While backs were turned snubbing social media and Facebook, people with interests were proactive and hosted conversations they wanted to be visible in and a part of. This should not be surprising; it is natural. There are instances all across the web where marketers who have the interest and the budget “host” conversations, groups, and networks. Some seem authentic, some seem like posers.
Here’s my thing: would Nike get accosted for creating “Atlanta Runners and Athletes” with a map of Atlanta? I know I know, you’re going to say its not the same thing. And, it’s not. The city of Atlanta isn’t actively trying to manage its brand and doesn’t have a trademark on its aerial image. However, it is the same in the sense that this is a reasonable thing for Nike to do because Nike wants to be there when people in Atlanta coordinate athletic activities.
CollegeProwler shouldn’t have to apologize for creating groups. (Universities could send them a cease and desist for hijacking the branding, which was in poor taste.) Now that admissions offices want into those groups, I bet if they asked CollegeProwler to kindly turn over administrative rights in exchange for a link to the CollegeProwler site in the group posts, CollegeProwler would be more than happy to hand them over.
Facebook is a free for all, and no group is the “official” group of anything just as @student points out. You could, right now, go and create a group called “The OFFICIAL Brittany Spears Fan Club.” Then, you could dramatically portray Ms. Spears all wrong. Her fans would in no way be duped by this; they just go wherever there’s claim to support her and they will ultimately gravitate to the best community and the most authentic communication channel.
So, admissions offices could be like the record industry – they could make a lot of enemies by waging war on all of the people taking advantage of their own slowness. Or they could do what would work: go host the best community and create the most authentic communication channel about their college or university. The could try it through an off-facebook community that will just add another barrier to particpation. Or, they could figure out how to tame the beast. Talk about your strategies here in this Facebook group.
I, of course, hope they do it by watching our intros on Facebook for Universities and Colleges and ultimately choosing to use Schools™. After all, though I think I am authentic. a secondary motive for this discussion is that Inigral, Inc is present in these types of conversations.