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Facebook Strategy: Surround & Capture

Facebook’s massive growth and recent tactics paint a clear picture as to its strategy, surround and capture. Is Facebook following a military strategy?

Military strategies try to  surround and capture as  an objective.  The military applies simulated maneuvers to define the enemies possible moves when certain strategies and related tactics are used against them. By doing such exercises the military can decide how to best use “war assets” including technology, air, land and sea equipment as well as weapons and human resources.

Businesses have examined and applied military strategies to dominate a market and demolish competitors for years. Many businesses look at the marketplace as war, always trying to surround and capture people.

Today these same strategies are being applied to win a war for consumer attention on and off  the web. This war is aimed at surrounding and capturing people and organizations data which becomes the primary objective.  Data drives information  that creates new knowledge. It is a war for gaining economic control fueled by the knowledge of what drives the digital economy. An enemy is viewed as anyone or organization that has the power (knowledge) to capture people’s activity (data) and use that data against you. So in the world of all things social who is your enemy?

Is Facebook Engaged in War?

Lets consider the relevant issues that leads one to consider that Facebook is engaged in a war to get our data before others do. How? By dominating the web and our attention aimed at surrounding and capturing our collective data. Consider the  multiple strategies used by military operations and compare it to Facebook’s behavior.

  • Attrition – A strategy of wearing down competitors to the point of collapse through continuous loss of attention, attraction, affinity which keeps the audience contained for more actions.  Contained in Facebook.
  • Bait & Bleed – A military strategy similar to the concept of divide and conquer. Facebook pulls people and organizations into their web only to fuel advertising revenue. But the bigger position is to garner the data from what, where, when, what, why,how and who has an affinity to what and whom. The data is the gold which reveals information and knowledge about the intersection of technology and human behavior. The digital economy represents said intersection and its relevant meaning.
  • Annihilation – The goal of destroying an opposing forces in a single planned pivotal move. Have you noticed what Facebook does when something like Four Square shows promise? They copy and improve the model and the attraction with the aim of dominating attention.
  • Shock & Awe – Technically known as rapid dominance, is a military doctrine based on the use of overwhelming power.  Wonder why Facebook changes privacy terms, adds functions and features without consultation with brands or organizations using their platform? These moves distract and leave you in shock and awe.
  • Blockading – Trying to cut off data, information, knowledge or communications from a particular area by force, usually taking place without notice. If you are a brand ask yourself who has your consumer data. You or Facebook? Does Facebook try and sell brands the data against user preferences?
  • Switch & Hold – A counter-insurgency strategy. As soon as you think your advertising and marketing strategies are working on Facebook they change the terms, conditions and do so to their advantage, not yours.
  • Counter Offensive- A strategic offensive taking place after your patience and reserves have been exhausted, and before you have had the opportunity to assume new defensive positions.

All of these strategies ultimately lead to a master plan of “surround and capture“. In the digital economy if your offering surrounds the media and all the media points their audience to you well you have effectively surrounded the market. The irony is that the market has helped you surround themselves. Brands beware that you are giving Facebook weapons of data to be used against you. Name a brand that doesn’t encourage their market to “connect” with them on Facebook?

Once you’ve surrounded the market, businesses and people (500 million strong on Facebook), then you have captured them. In doing so you now have their data and all the information about their activities which creates a powerful knowledge inventory that no one else has. Ever heard that knowledge is power? Those that have more of it can win a war. Have you noticed that Facebook’s traffic has now exceeded Google’s?

People Don’t Like to Be Surrounded, Captured or Involved in War

If Facebook has adopted a military strategy and is waging a war (certainly appears so) then the people and businesses that live in Facebook’s country will probably leave sooner or later. Have you noticed an undercurrent of the market distrust, exodus, concern and questioning of motives?

The battle for people’s attention will always be waged but the war will be won by the will of the people. Maybe Facebook ought “pay” attention to the will of the people and brands before the people exercise their will and leave.

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