Chase Turner dropped this video over on his Tumblr where IKEA’s advertising agency, Forsman and Bodenfors, shows how they managed to exploit Facebook’s photo tagging functionality to promote the opening of yet another IKEA store.
For the handful of non-Facebook using readers out there, here’s the deal: When someone uploads a photo into Facebook, people can tag themselves within the photo. This is an awesome piece of technology because it makes it easy to find photos that you, friends, and family are in. Whenever you’re tagged in a new photo, your friends receive a notice that there is a new photo of you in the system. For example, BenCredible may upload a photo that I happen to be in, I may notice this and add myself to the photo. The people I’m connected with then receive a notice that I’ve been tagged in a photo with a link to go check it out.
IKEA figured out how to manipulate the Facebook community by encouraging them to tag themselves within photos that they don’t actually appear in. For example, if I tagged a candlestick within one of IKEA’s photos with my name, I would be eligible to win that candlestick from IKEA. And, hundreds of my Facebook friends would potentially click through to check out a new awesome photo of me only to end up at a picture of an IKEA showroom.
To me, this is a creatively stupid exploitation of the Facebook community. If this catches on, I’ll be less likely to click on friend’s photos since they may direct me to ads for big box retailers rather than actual photos of people I care about. Facebook users who participate in contests like this are not without guilt since they’re choosing to waste their Facebook friend’s time in exchange for a chance to win something made in China.
Christina Warren at Mashable claims that this is a genius move by IKEA and the commenters seem to agree with her (which probably explains why I rarely read Mashable). Maybe I’m an idiot for putting my friends ahead of brands, but if that’s the case, I’m comfortable with that.
While this may be one of the first such exploitations within Facebook, it’s already become an all too common occurrence on Twitter. I don’t follow people so I can receive their contest entry spam. There are plenty of interesting people on Twitter who don’t exploit their followers in an attempt to win a camera or a pizza so do a little follow-purging from time to time to turn down the volume.
Apparently, the IKEA promotion violates Facebook’s terms of service, which goes to show that Facebook understand that hosting a community is a delicate balance. But that’s not likely going to stop advertising agencies like Forsman and Bodenfors from coming up with additional creatively stupid ideas on how to exploit the community in the future. Instead, we can take a step back and think about whether we value our friend’s time more than the chance to win something on the back’s of our friend’s time.