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A Remarkable Enigma That Will Get You Thinking

Every month, 901 million people log on to Facebook. With a customer base that most companies would kill for, it might seem like Facebook is untouchable. However, if you consider what happened during the companys IPO this month, their history of controversial privacy issues, as well as managements disputed ethics, Facebook could continue to lose brand equity if they aren't careful about managing their brand. Brand equity, once built, can help weather a crisis and ensure customers won't consider competitors or substitutions. Conversely though, when brand equity is absent, would customers still choose Facebook if offered a similar option?

We must remember that a brand is a promise with a customer. Though intangible, it's what remains from past behavior that helps predict future behavior. Its comprised of the expectations people have about the benefits they will receive. Functionally, Facebook gives people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. The emotional benefit associated with the brand is staying in touch with family, friends and brands people care about, including sharing and hosting an unlimited number of photos, links and videos. The self-expressive benefit of Facebook is an ego play; showing that you're well-connected, interesting and with the times technologically. All of these benefits, I believe, come with the promise, or expectation, that when customers use Facebook, the company will make sound, ethical decisions on their behalf to protect their information and their user experience.

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Throughout their history, Facebook has occasionally broken their promise to customers and stakeholders, which can make one question their consistency and positive brand resonance. Essentially, resonance is how strongly consumers react to a brand, and there is a broad spectrum of how people react to Facebook. While many people appreciate the connections that Facebook allows them to make, many criticize the way they do business. Their one-sided terms of service, Mark Zuckerbergs erratic presence, a constantly changing and unclear privacy policy, an unprotected user-experience with the invasion of third-party applications and the recent handling of their IPO are all chipping away at their brand equity and forcing negative emotional reactions about the brand.

In order to clean up their brand image, Facebook should consider building back trust with their customers and stakeholders, and make sure Facebook is still a place customers want to go, and not a place they feel like they have to. Transparency is the first thing that comes to mind. With the amount and specificity of data that Facebook collects about us, don't we have a right to know how that data is being used in a clear and open way? Customers have the right to know how their privacy is protected, and how it isnt. Access to that information should be easy to find and understandable to read. Second, Mark Zuckerbergs aptitude to run a company like Facebook has been scrutinized, especially in light of the selective disclosure scandal. In order to trust a company, customers need to trust the CEO. It wouldn't hurt Zuckerberg to be an honest, open and reliable leader, which can be done without sacrificing his laid back image. Third, lately, it feels like Facebook could turn into MySpace, with all of the third party applications allowed on the site. One of the things people appreciated about Facebook was it's simplicity and design. With an overabundance of Mafia Wars invitations, it can make the platform a less desirable place to visit.

With a user-base as large as Facebooks it seems like they are untouchable. And maybe they are. But would it kill them to be mindful of the customers and stakeholders who got them to where they are today? Remember now, Yahoo! used to be the leader in search.

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Posted in Health and Medical Post Date 03/12/2019


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