Have you heard the news story about Facebook shutting down on March 15th this year? The internet is aflame with stories and reports that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has decided that Facebook has ‘ruined his life’ and that he wants to put an end to all the madness. Advice is being offered by people to download photographs to their computers in case they are lost for good when Facebook closes down.
Fortunately it’s all nonsense. Facebook is not going to shut down on March 15th, and Mark Zuckerberg never made any such statement. The whole thing is a hoax, which began with a fake news article published by a satirical news website. In other words, someone just made the whole thing up. But so many people have fallen for the hoax that the internet is now awash with advice on what to do in order to save and protect your Facebook profile images and galleries.
Of course, this is sound advice in any case. Relying on Facebook to take sole care of your precious images isn’t wise, and it always makes sense to have a backup copy yourself of all your images. While it’s unlikely that Facebook will be closing down, your account could be hacked, there could be a problem which results in your images being removed or unavailable, and you may even find your Facebook profile closed down if you are found to be in breach of their terms.
But it’s worth noting just how quickly and effectively this hoax story has spread. The website which originally wrote and published the news story was fairly well known anyway, but traffic has rocketed today as people are directing those who have fallen for the scam to the source of the hoax.
It’s not advisable to spread false rumours in order to promote your business, but it demonstrates yet again the power not only of social media but of the way information spreads around the globe. In just a few hours millions of people all around the globe were discussing the story, and it quickly became one of the top trending subjects on Twitter.
Some people saw the opportunity to jump on the trending bandwagon, and included links to advice published on their own website about the truth behind the hoax, including suitable hash tags for ‘Facebook’, ‘hoax’ and ‘Zuckerberg’. It pays to be aware of what’s trending, because it may well prove a useful means to direct traffic to your own sites.
Already a Facebook group has been set up with thousands of people joining it to protest at Mark Zuckerberg’s decision, and amazingly even the original publication of the news story has received over 6,000 comments from people urging Mark Zuckerberg to have a change of heart. This is despite the fact that the stories either side of the Facebook closure article are called ‘Mike Tyson Pigeon Fetish’ and ‘Alien Spaceships To Attack Earth In 2011’.
Not only is it worth noting the stories which are trending so that you can jump on the bandwagon and enjoy a slice of the traffic being generated, but it also helps to realise just how powerful marketing can be when you stop trying to control it, and let other people generate the interest on your behalf. Viral videos are one of the most effective, yet cheap ways of marketing a brand, and have been used by many of the world’s most well known brands such as Cadbury’s.
Sometimes it’s worth stepping away from your traditional marketing and trying something completely different. It’s also important to keep one ear to the ground in order to know immediately what’s hot, what’s being talked about and what people are interested in, so that you can draw them in with a few well placed, well optimised tweets, posts, press releases or articles.