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Marketing, Keywords and Social Networking

January 9, 2009

How not to lose sense of priorities when running a business, that is the question.  As you get sucked into the day to day, it is all too easy to forget the bigger picture.  So, the holidays were useful thinking time.  This year, as recommended in the E-Myth I will be reserving blocks of time away from the office in order to work ON the business.

One goal is to keep this blog on track during 2009.  I want us to be writing about law as part of the business issues people are facing.  Many of these issues are internet related, given the vast changes being brought about in all walks of life by the connected web, or web 2.0, as it is sometimes referred to.  There are already plenty of others who write pure Intellectual Property blogs so that the law of IP is already exceptionally well covered.  IP law as part of the many issues businesses need to understand is not so well covered.

Last year I attended the Society for Computer and Law conference, a full report of which appears here and returned very enthused to participate in the world being opened up by social technologies like blogging, facebook, Second Life etc.  So in a fit of enthusiasm  some time after the conference I did a lot of surfing to formulate a plan for our participation in these social developments.  I didn’t get very far though.

So, I understand the huge challenge businesses face when trying to formulate a plan and a strategy to participate in web 2.0.  How do you even begin to decide how to make best use of your limited time and resources when you first have to understand what’s out there, how it will be changing, what it could mean for your business, what you need to do to join in etc?  This is especially difficult given the unfamiliar concepts and jargon.  There’s plenty of free advice and nuggets of information, but information overload is the problem.  If my experience is anything to go by, surfing is hugely entertaining, but unlikely to produce answers to key questions.

To compound the problem, every site has its own lengthy terms and conditions.  Is it any wonder then that nobody bothers to read these?  One assumes and hopes for the best that they will be fair.  But that may not be a reasonable assumption.

Which leads me onto a separate matter, namely Yahoo’s terms and conditions for keyword advertising.  From this post I gather Yahoo has quietly introduced new terms of business giving itself the right to change customers keywords and ads.  Reportedly, judging by the comments to that post, Yahoo has used this right to change some people’s ads, ( and even sent traffic to website pages of their own choosing).  In the process, some customers have received substantially increased charges on their accounts.  All this, without even an email forewarning them of these unilateral changes…  The mind boggles.

Clearly Yahoo needs legal advice because it would have serious problems enforcing these terms.  And in this web 2.0 environment when people are more easily able to unite to take a stand against large corporations, if Yahoo has any sense it will immediately take steps to reverse these changes before it suffers further  adverse publicity.