Community Means Collaboration

"Reacting to an online swell of suspicion about changes to Facebook's terms of service the company's chief executive (24 year-old Mark Zuckerberg) moved to reassure users on Monday (Feb. 16) that the users, not the Web site, 'own and control their information.'" - Brian Stelter, Facebook's Users Ask Who Owns Information, The New York Times.

Facebook recently changed its terms of service, to say that users were now granting "Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense)" to do whatever it wanted with anything they posted.

As most of the social networking world already knows, this caused a tsunami of reaction from Facebook users. I am an avid user of Facebook as are many of my colleagues. I and another of my 2,645,570 closest Facebook friends (figuratively) joined a group called: AGAINST NEW FACEBOOK & FB's TERMS OF SERVICE. Mark Zuckerberg made some pertinent comments to attempt to repair the damage. The end result of the conflagration: Facebook has been forced to rethink their policy, and is actually asking for input about policy formation from users.

The company issued a press release today quoting Mark Zuckerberg, "The past week reminded us that users feel a real sense of ownership over Facebook itself, not just the information they share."

"Companies like ours need to develop new models of governance," Zuckerberg added. "Rather than simply reissue a new Terms of Use, the changes we're announcing today are designed to open and our future up Facebook so that users can participate meaningfully in our policies.

Len Stein wrote an article about Facebook's PR problems for the Cision Navigator, on 2/26/2009, No Way to Treat "Friends". His stance is summed up here: "Any corporate misstep will provoke an immediate reaction, which can lay low a company, brand or institution, within days, if not hours." Stein goes on to explain: "The collaborative process is inherently transparent and works in two directions…Brands must actively seek the approval of all of their key publics, internal and external, if they hope to gain consumer's trust and win support in the form of purchasing power."

How would this collaborative process work for HR Vendors? For a great example, you could take a look at our own Membership Community. We've worked with hundreds of suppliers over the years and always welcome collaborative input to the marketing and PR tools and resources they have access to and what will help them generate more publicity, traffic and leads. The latest changes to our HR Community Directory are primary a direct result of user input.

Many suppliers and resource centers are creating true communities of users. The steps is simple: talk to your clients, and let them know what you plan to do, get their input prior to making major changes. One of our earlier blog postings Beyond Kudos, Gold Stars and Gift Cards: A New Employee Engagement Solution describes a new HR Vendor that did just that.

It worked for them and it can work for you. Most excellent!

Post by Dawn Passaro

Labels: , ,