Facebook fails to use "Social Network" opportunity

The Facebook movie The Social Network is opening in theaters today, and what better way to denote the occasion than to discuss the potential PR fallout of the film and how it characterizes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The Facebook movie The Social Network is opening in theaters today, and what better way to denote the occasion than to discuss the potential PR fallout of the film and how it characterizes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

It's important to remember it's a movie and that Hollywood has a knack for distorting reality, no matter how hard screenplay writers work to tell a thoroughly true story. The Facebook PR crew should underscore this point.

As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said at a social media event recently the movie is “fun, fiction and very Hollywood.”

Movie goers love their fun, so let them have it. People can love a villain just as much as a hero. It's very unlikely thousands, or even millions, of Facebook users are suddenly going to delete their accounts if they don't like the way the early beginnings of the company and its co-founder are portrayed.

With that said, Facebook PR leadership has known for months about this movie. It's been a prime opportunity for the company to be proactive and get ahead of the message instead of reacting, especially following the privacy settings debacle that still resonates with the social media using public.

Yet, the only seemingly PR move Zuckerberg made took place only a week before the movie came out. A $100 million donation to a struggling school system isn't something to complain about. But, the timing of it came off as contrived and Facebook was caught reacting instead of being proactive.

With this much build-up and lag time, it would be a failure of epic PR proportions if Facebook didn't successfully exploit this challenge and, as they say, opportunity.

The essence of social networking sites like Facebook is sharing. Facebook should embrace the movie as way to initiate a dialog with its 500 million plus users on the company's early beginnings, whatever that story might be.

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