The Danger of the Wine Industry’s Reliance on Social Media
I’ve been a member of the Facebook community since 2007. Since that time, every client I’ve worked with has also been a member of Facebook. I’ve made sure of it. In fact, it’s hard to imagine why a wine industry firm would not be a member of this gigantic community where targeted messaging and branding can be done in a nearly unprecedented manner.
Yet, today, looking at the actions and power of Facebook, I can’t say I would recommend joining and using Facebook:
It’s worth noting that Facebook just removed the ability of every Australian Facebook user from posting or linking to any news article:
Rather than continue negotiations with Australia regarding paying for the news content circulating on its platform, Facebook decided to pull up stakes. Within hours, the company announced it would “restrict publishers and people in Australia” from sharing or viewing news content. This restriction was also global — Facebook users the world over would now be prohibited from posting links from Australian news publishers. In other words, a sovereign national government attempted to assert itself against Facebook. And in response, Facebook canceled the country.
If Facebook is willing to cancel an entire country, why wouldn’t it cancel your page and remove you from the thousands of followers you’ve accumulated for your wine biz over the past decade or so? (That’s a rhetorical question).
It is becoming readily apparent that businesses cannot assume that the various social media services they use to disseminate information and news can be counted on to be there for use. This, in turn, raises the question, to what extent should any business rely on various social media services to market and promote their products.
It’s true that Facebook is a public company and can choose to include or exclude any user or sets of users it wants from its platform. It may restrict how any user or set of users utilize its platform. Yet, it strikes me that certain social media platforms have become so tightly integrated into so many people’s lives and businesses that today they serve as much as “utilities” (like power, water and airwaves) than they do as simple private companies offering a service.
As utilities go, Facebook, Twitter and Google are more like airwaves than water and power supply. Sure, we can live without television and airwaves. It would be a life-defining adjustment but it could be done. We can’t live with the burden of having to source and supply our own power and water. And yet, we do regulate how television and radio are delivered and administered. It may be time to consider the same for the social media and foundational internet companies and regulate how they operate.
So, if the wine industry’s companies are going to continue to rely on the Facebooks, Twitters, Instagrams and Googles of the world, despite the capricious exercise of power these utility-type companies are wielding, the very least that should be done is put in place a plan for the day when your company’s access to them is withdrawn. Think of it as insurance against an attack on your assets.