Today in the Huffington Post, it was announced that Facebook will soon launch a new feature to its photo "tagging". Soon you will be able to also tag pages that have a fan page, as opposed to just tagging friends. 

It is estimated that Americans are exposed to some 3000 advertisements a day. Now Facebook photos will become the "Where's Waldo" of spotting brands. The question is whether this new tagging feature is a benefit for brand marketers. 

My immediate thought was that this could be a great advantage for brands. Large product brands like Nike and Coke, who are industry cash cows, could just reap the benefits of having their loyal customers do the publicity work for them. This initial concept made me think that marketing is just getting easier - now we have our customers doing the advertising for us, and on social media sites where the publicity doesn't cost a dime. 

For smaller businesses, brand tagging could be a huge advantage. Through networking - friends of friends- your company brand name will be seen by more people. Perhaps it will even eliminate the need to pay for Facebook Ads on the sides of profiles. Why spend money on advertisements when you can start tagging your brand in photos? 

So, we have our list of benefits:

  • Free publicity largely done by the consumer
  • Extended publicity through networking
  • Networking your brand name
  • The possibility of swapping Facebook Ads for brand tagging

Therefore, what's not to like about this new Facebook feature?

Well, let's ask ourselves what the definition of marketing is. Marketing is all about knowing your target market, knowing your competition and getting inside the consumer's mind. Our first marketing lesson was about the 4 P's: product, price, place and promotion. Why is marketing becoming such a dominant field? Because we, as marketers, CONTROL the market situation. 

That's right. Good marketing is all about controlling the situation. This new Facebook feature lets the masses control the image of the brand. Sure, marketers can monitor the brand on Facebook and perhaps tag and detag photos of choice, but ultimately the power has been shifted. 

Yes, our job as marketers is not getting easier. It's getting harder.

ImageConsumers will be able to essentially create their own advertisements through Facebook photos. So, what is Coke and Pepsi are tagged in the same ad? What if a kid wearing a Nike shirt is tagged at an NFL game (NFL's sponsor is currently Reebok). Or what if Budweiser beer is tagged in a picture with children or minors? Does that spell trouble for the brand? And if it does, will Budweiser's PR reps catch it in time? You might think so, but with over 500 million people on Facebook tagging photos every minute, how do you catch everything?

Brace yourself marketers. Branding is getting more interesting - and more complex - as social media contiues to integrate into our consuming lives. 

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