professional reflections

Defending your brand in Facebook

The strange excitement in some parts of the HE sector around Facebook continues apace. Apparently, it is now possible to create a page for an organisation rather than for an individual. This is of course creating a stir, with a rush to claim pages. Kind of like internet domain registering but without the regulatory framework. There's a long comment thread over on Brian's blog with several points of view on this. I can't help thinking that the emphasis here will be on defending a brand. Universities will want to claim 'their' page mostly in order to prevent other people from doing so. I'd like to suggest a new income stream to Facebook: charge a small fee for organisational pages - you'll clean up! If I'm right, then many organisations' first real engagement with Facebook will be quite negative - the motivation will be to see off a perceived threat. Of course, once the organisational page is established, people will wonder what to do with it. The temptation will be to do something with it, even if it is just for the sake of its existence. Some sort of 'down with the kids' marketing drive I guess! Inevitably there will be incidents of claim-jumping. Imagine the disgruntled, or even just irreverent student who claims their university's page in Facebook. What fun they could haveā€¦.! What about trademarks? Domain name registration is subject to trademark law. Universities are aware of this ( here's an example from Oxford University of a clearly stated policy). Will something similar need to be done for Facebook pages or groups? And then again for the next fad? So, is the introduction of organisational pages in Facebook an opportunity or a threat to the organisation?

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