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Facebook may be messing with your email but they just served you up a 900 million strong email database too…
Is Facebook's latest move another recipe for disaster or a great new opportunity for online marketing?
So the social giant may not have literally hijacked your personal email address but they did just give every user one and publicly display it on users' pages and timelines. Bloggers are ranting about it and desperately rushing to hide them, while others, including Facebook really don't see what the big fuss is about.
So what does this really mean for business owners and entrepreneurs?
For a start it means 900 new email addresses just sitting there for the scraping. Those who act fast can scoop up massive email databases for future marketing. While spamming is still definitely a bad thing many will use it for this but it will still make it easier for businesses who lose accounts, get shut down on FB or who don't want to invest big money on managing profiles to retain contacts and keep pushing messages to them.
This move may not add big value to Facebook immediately but is part of a larger strategy which we haven't seen the full scope of yet. Mark Zuckerberg's nest egg may be in trouble but perhaps the world's largest social network shouldn't be underestimated so easily.
It's true that the company may have been better off rolling out the latest string of online marketing options a little slower and a little earlier but that doesn't mean there isn't a virtual gold mine @facebook.com waiting to be mined by innovative direct marketing pros.
However, those engaging in social media marketing on this platform need to keep an eye out for changing dynamics. Too much spam and noise all at once could turn users off in droves or at least dramatically decrease advertising effectiveness, just as has happened with direct mail and email in the past. This could lead to a skewed ratio of marketers to consumers, with marketers just ending up marketing to other marketers, though these cycles tend to turn around in about five years.
For now it can be used as a standalone lead generator, though may ultimately find its place as just another channel to augment other efforts and to push prospects into calling in or to visit blogs and websites for the best conversion rates.