— blending the mix

That ridiculous Facebook/Ogilvy/Precision Marketing article in full.

For those lucky enough not to be a subscriber, I have copied the offending article below so readers can see just how pitiful an excuse this is for PR:

Social networking site Facebook is a tough nut to crack for marketers as paranoia is rife about unsolicited data collection. Smart brands are giving users something positive to talk about

Social networking sites may be a dream for ID thieves, according to an Equifax report (precisionmarketing.co.uk), but the marketing community is still keen to get in on the act. The trouble is, subtlety is rarely top of marketers’ agenda.

The latest phenomenon, Facebook, has accrued over 30 million users and witnessed a 523 per cent growth between November 2006 and May 2007. But despite the launch of Facebook Platform – enabling brand-owners to engage with users – most companies have yet to exploit the site’s popularity.

Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy’s executive creative director and Facebook devotee, says brands must exercise caution: “Like any community, you have to earn your place within it.”

Social networks are harder to crack than traditional media outlets, where brands can secure a place as long as they have enough money. The only brand to make significant inroads on Facebook Platform so far is Red Bull. The energy drink created a branded version of rock paper scissors that users can play with their Facebook friends. It has been downloaded by over 300,000 users.

Sutherland believes this kind of functionality is vital for a brand to be accepted. “Brands must demonstrate their value, rather than preach to the audience,” he says.

Unlike other social networks, users only interact with people they know. To attempt to befriend a stranger is a faux pas. Facebook is seen by its users as an extension of their social lives and a tool to help develop their relationships.

Another application lets users display the books they have read recently. Friends who browse your list of books can read your reviews and then click through to that book on Amazon and buy it.

A small group of brands have run banner ads on the site, but Simon Mansell, managing director of digital agency TBG London, says: “When we run ads through a network, we ask them to exclude social networking sites.” Clients who have run banner ads on Facebook have reported click-through rates as low as 0.04 per cent.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (pictured top) has promised to provide advertisers with new ways to reach users, but brands must take care not to stoke the paranoia spreading through Facebook that third parties are only there to poach personal data for marketing databases.”

Hat-tip to Simon Mansell though who clearly knows what he is talking about.

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