Should We Start Hedging Our Bets on Facebook?

Lately, I’ve been blogging about some of the issues facing social media, in particular, Facebook.

This week brought Facebook back onto my radar screen which got me thinking, should we start preparing for a world without Facebook?

Let’s talk about that!

I was driving this week when, over the news channel that I was listening to, I heard a commentator comparing Facebook’s situation to what happened to Big Tobacco in the US.

For those with short memories, Big Tobacco fell afoul of the Federal government when it came out that they’d known for years that cigarettes caused cancer from their own research but had denied this publicly.

Some of you may remember when Big Tobacco was the mighty Colossus that strode the world selling its products everywhere, advertising wherever and whenever they wanted, and making money hand over fist.

Well, you can still find their overpriced products, thanks to excise taxes, around but otherwise they’ve been somewhat absent from the public consciousness since the late Twentieth Century.

Facebook may be facing a similar existential threat.

Media articles have appeared claiming that it has hidden its own research which indicted that Instagram is harmful to young teens, young girls in particular.

Facebook was in Washington, D.C. last week in front of Congress getting grilled again.

They don’t seem too popular with either major political party right about now.

This led to my thinking could Facebook be at risk?

Up til now, I assumed that some regulatory/legislative remedy to the Facebook situation was inevitable.

But, I never expected them to go away.

IBM and ATT are two examples of large corporations that fell afoul of Federal regulators and are still in existence doing reasonably well.

Some might say that the Feds have never actually shut down major business enterprises.

Hell, they can’t even shut down the drug cartels!

However, there are two recent examples of corporate high fliers who flew too close to the regulatory Sun and came crashing down to Earth.

Anyone remember Enron and Arthur Anderson?

(The Feds went after the latter faster and harder than they did al Qaeda!)

Yes, the facts there are somewhat different.

But, what all have in common is that they gained the undivided unfavorable attention of the US Government.

(It didn’t help Arthur Anderson that nobody liked accountants to begin with.)

Which leads me back to my original question, should we start hedging our bets on Facebook?

The answer is yes, we should but not only because of their latest kerfuffle with Congress and the Feds.

We should always be prepared to step away from any major social media channel at any time.

Twitter might go away for any number of perfectly valid reasons, or invalid ones.

Having our own websites and mailing lists is a defensive strategy that can never be taken away from us.

Of course, Facebook’s going away would be a major, global disruptive event the consequences of which can’t be predicted now. 

All I do know is that forewarned is forearmed! 

That’s it for now!

Please check out my 8 step approach for developing a social media program for more ideas on how to use social media.

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