Travis recently became an unintentional pitchman on Facebook:
But that behavior, becoming fans of a company, exposed an interesting problem recently. I became a fan of KinzinÃ¢â‚¬â€for no real reason, other than that I liked their design and the way they solved a problem of online communities: namely, privacy controls for family, especially kids.
So imagine my irony-laced surprise when a friend sent me this screenshot, of an ad she said she clicked on because she thought I was explicitly messaging it to her…
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to remove myself as a fan for Kinzin. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t dislike their service, but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to be an inadvertent (and uncompensated) shill for them.
Here’s the screenshot. It’s unrelated, but apparently somebody took Travis’s photo just as he was passing between dimensions:
He makes a good point about the ‘uncompensated’ part. Obviously his ‘endorsement’ has value but (besides free use of Facebook, for which he already looks at ads) nobody’s paying him for it. Robert Scoble has 4923 friends on Facebook–how much is his endorsement worth?
Travis explains that there’s no way to turn off this functionality on an individual company (or ‘page’, in the parlance of Facebook) basis. To do so for your entire profile, click privacy in the menu bar at the top of your profile. Then click News Feed and Mini-Feed and choose the Social Ads tab. Finally, choose “No one” in the dropdown box and click Save Changes.
I don’t want to impugn Kinzin here. I don’t have an opinion of their service (it’s not really targeted at the likes of me), and their only gaffe was in picking a potentially-unpopular advertising strategy.
Michael from Kinzin left a comment on Travis’s blog. He didn’t apologize per se, but he did say that they’d turn off the ‘social actions’ (goofy name, that) for their Facebook ads.
What’s the lesson here? We don’t know very much about social advertising, or how it’s going to be perceived. So, proceed with caution.