I started with Friendster and Tribe.net. Then Myspace was the rage. Now Facebook. And even more current Twitter is the newest in new. With all these services the same thing occurs over time. Clutter Creep. Initially it was great reconnecting with friends on Facebook. Or connecting on Myspace (I am into music). But over time when you finally have enough 'friends' you can not keep up with everyone. My old High School friends? Rarely ever see even a post from them on my front page since the initial 'Hey how have you been exchange'. And while Brands, Musicians, etc think this is a great medium to broadcast updates and news, most gets buried in the clutter. Normally I log in check my email....and just like with standard email I delete 90% of the broadcast updates without opening them. And to reach me me through updating what you are up too....if your not on my front page when I log in...I will never see it. I never check my wall so I never see anyone who is posting to my own updates.
Clutter Clutter Clutter!
And thus is the reason why Advertising is a failure on Social Networks.
In my opinion the true value of a Social Network for a brand is to reach the people outside of the network not inside...but to use the information from inside to help narrow who you send your advertising too.
Think of this scenario. Coke wants to launch a loyalty campaign. So they send a message to all their fans on Facebook. Well as I just mentioned since all the broadcasts to my email are ones I opt in for and each possibly important or of value. The fact is if I have 200 of them to go over 90% get deleted without opening. What about just posting on their fan page? Well I am fans of a lot of things but I also never go to any of those fan pages, or have so many I don't have the time. This is not a dilemma. This just means Social Networks are not a great medium to use (though they are CHEAP!).
As for damage control from attack campaigns. Well is this different than email? Not really. In reality the big worry should be search. Coke does not want someone to Bing 'Coke' and have all these anti-coke blogs pop up first. I personally do not think Social Networks are all that more powerful than TV or Blogs or even a bad write up in Consumer Reports.
The other big deficiency in Facebook is the lack of a true profile page. Their set up is very weak. It is not an information service it is a communication service.
And Brands need to understand they are already inundating us with Advertising everywhere. On TV, Radio, out of your home driving around, in stores, in print etc. So why they feel they have to intrude on every single personal space we have to be successful is because Agency's are snowing them into thinking this is the way. But really it only enriches the Agency's.