One of the best ways for an internet-based company to enter the Social
Media world is through the creation of a Facebook application. A
successful app will drive traffic to the company's native site, create
direct sales, and promote online reputation.
So, what exactly is meant by a Facebook app? Well, it could be
a simple as the Vampires application which allows members to "bite" one
another and become vampires. This application is fun, simple, and has
gone viral (in the sense that it has become very popular). The
application is monetized by way of advertising horror movies in the
application's interface, and because Facebook is all about sharing, all
of one's friends can see one's Vampiric status via the same interface.
But now complaints regarding privacy are starting to surface
in regard to these apps. Facebook applications can be based solely on
direct sales. Companies like Overstock.com allow--or should I say
encourage--Facebook users to purchase from their website through their
application without ever leaving Facebook.com. The problem is that
purchase information is being shared. After making a purchase, the
Overstock.com app displays a small box in a corner of the browser
interface following a transaction. This box alerts users that
information will be shared with other Facebook users unless they click
on it to negate that information form being shared. The box fades away
after a half minute or so, after which consent is assumed, and all your
friends can see what you bought.
I'm no lawyer, but that sounds kind of "iffy" to me. And, even
if it is a legally binding procedure, it certainly isn't going to do
much for customer satisfaction! There are, evidently, other large
e-commerce sites with similar or identical interfaces, and my instinct
is that Facebook and these large companies will solve the problem
quickly. It makes a good example, however, of social media gone awry.
The term "social" does not automatically imply that sharing is the
default; part of being social is having the choice to share or not share.
Purchasing things, especially during the holidays, often involves
gifts, and the surprise of a well-chosen gift to a friend (who may well
be in your Facebook world) is as social as it gets.