In the UK, many businesses are discovering the benefits of working with social media in order to build their brand. It is often seen as a leap of faith for a business to put its stall out on a site like MySpace or YouTube or Flickr. Managing directors are held back by the idea of an open community, a dialogue that removes control from their grasp. Many have accepted that blogging is a viable communications tool but social networking seems the province of the consumer.
But what about this environment, the social networking arena? Is it really as open a community as they suspect? Within 2 years three of the Internet’s most popular social networking sites have been bought by three of the Internet’s most powerful influences – MySpace by News Corp, YouTube by Google and Flickr by Yahoo!. A story this week regarding Icelandic photographer Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir, shows that acquisition by big business can change the open nature of social networking.
Rebekka discovered her photographs were being sold by a gallery and naturally, she complained. She also posted her situation on Flickr – a site where she has built many relationships. The news spread and by the end of the first day it had appeared on Slashdot and over 100,000 people had viewed her Flickr post. Then, it and the 450 comments of support, were gone. Removed by the management.
Many say that this suppression of speech would not have happened before Yahoo’s involvement. While I think that it is totally against the ethos of such a site to censor in this way, I do wonder if this style will appeal more to the MD’s who currently hold back.
It is unlikely however to enthuse the creative teams who champion social networking to those managers.