The two consumer technology powerhouses created in the past 15 years were both founded on philanthropic philosophies. While wealth creation was certainly on the agenda, the entrepreneurs behind Google and Facebook proclaimed their mission to be primarily altruistic.
Google espouses a don’t be evil code and commitment to provide users with “unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can.”
Similarly, Facebook places its members desire for a social online experience above all else. Playing the role of co-founder Sean Parker in the movie The Social Network, Justin Timberlake explained, “We lived on farms, then we lived in cities and now we’re going to live on the Internet.”
Yet, as it plays out, the sobering realities of the public markets and lofty expectations of shareholders have forced Google and Facebook to stray from such noble aspirations.
Last year Google introduced its new Hummingbird search algorithm to supposedly provide better results for its users. In a flash the mainstays of search engine optimization – such as cross-linking and key word tags — penalized a Web site owner and sent their organic ranking tumbling.
Of course, this lost traffic could be recovered through an investment in paid search. Cha-ching!
Now it is Facebook’s turn to hype up its advertisers at the expense of those organizations that seek visibility and connections without scratching out a check.
In an open letter to Facebook published earlier this month, a food delivery service called Eat24 complained the content that appears in a user’s News Feed are weighted towards those way pay to promote their posts.
“We give you text posts, delicious food photos, coupons, restaurant recommendations … and what do you do in return? You take them and you hide them from all our friends,” Eat24 said in its letter.
Computerworld’s article about Eat24’s break-up may be mis-titled Marketers are Losing Faith in Facebook. It all depends on what a marketer understands “faith” to mean.
This is all about expectations. Facebook and Google can still deliver access to their engaged communities of users. You’ll just need to pay for it.