How IKEA Helps Make Facebook Less Valuable

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.

Retweet Contests to Get Unfollowed

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.

6 thoughts on “How IKEA Helps Make Facebook Less Valuable”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How IKEA Helps Make Facebook Less Valuable | The Deets --
  2. Interesting take, as a marketer I sometimes forget that I’m looking at things such as this through a particular set of lenses. Do you dislike all advertising on social networking sites, or just clever ones that eliminate the need to pay for the space?

  3. @Chase, I’m not opposed to advertising. In fact, I’m probably more pro-advertising than most when it’s done well. Relevant ads, to me, come close to being considered content, as we see when people who haven’t purchased a newspaper all year pick up the Thanksgiving Day edition for the Black Friday ads that happen to have some journalism wrapped around them.

    Figuring out clever ways to spread the word can also be a very good thing. I just happen to prefer clever organic and clever cool over clever manipulative. Clever organic would involve creating something that’s worth talking about. Promotions that get people talking without paying people – through outright payments for tweets, blogs, Facebook updates, etc., or through contest entries – are what I like to see. Obviously, it’s harder to create something people want to talk about than it is to pay them to pimp your stuff to their networks of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but harder is definitely better in this case.

    When I receive tweets, Facebook updates, or other forms of commercial messages from friends that are based on some form of compensation, I think less of my friend for wasting my time and the company who stooped to the level of paying (cash, product, or contest entries) to have my time wasted.

    To me, this is a becoming significant problem. I know quite a few people that I find interesting, but not interesting enough to want to deal with the noise in their Twitter and Facebook streams caused by participation in contests to win crap through retweet spam. To make Twitter valuable to me, I’m forced to use it less than I otherwise would if it wasn’t being exploited by advertisers. If the noise gets high enough, I’m sure people would eventually decide to tune out of the service altogether, although it’s likely that someone would figure out how to filter out any mentions of contest entry tweets in order to return value to the service. A Tivo for Twitter, in a sense.

  4. Too each their own. I find this particular example fairly innocuous. To me this is nothing compared to all the game spam that pervades facebook.

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