Don’t be Foogled!

Facebook is now aggressively challenging Google’s growing success in social media—especially in relation to music, video and mobile services—aiming to maintain its innovator’s edge. In its massive makeover, however, it is also succeeding in offending Facebook loyalists who are less than thrilled with many of the changes. Worse, in some peoples’ eyes, Facebook is allowing itself to look more and more like the other guy.

Will Facebook me-too itself out of business? Not likely. Might the company stir up confusion in the social media marketplace that hurts its image and softens customer loyalty? Not out of the question.

You don’t have to be an airline or Internet company to copy the actions of major competitors. It happens all the time. With the best of intentions, you study your competition’s best practices to see how they ‘got there.’ You track new product launches. Then, you emulate some or all of these success markers, hoping to improve your lot.

Along the way, you forget that your company’s greatest strategic advantage lies in investing in the things that set it apart from others. In short, you allow yourself to be Foogled (Foo-gal verb; to Foogle: “to be seduced into adopting strategies and tactics that blur the lines between you and your competitors.”

Who wins? No one.

Not your customers, for whom you’ve made choices harder. Not your employees, who may no longer be sure why they signed up and who they’re working for. Not your investors, who will anticipate a price war, which may erode profit margins and confidence.

Be a hero. Send a memo to your team: Don’t be Foogled!

3 Comments
  • John Kador
    Reply

    Excellent points. It takes confidence to stick to your differentiation. A business can also be foogled when it dilutes its pricing proposition, as Netflix seems to be doing. I’d like to hear you write more about Netflix.

    September 30, 2011 at 7:41 am
  • Mark Avery
    Reply

    Mimicry is a big problem here, as studying/copying competitors’ moves does erode the significance of identity dynamics. southwest is a good example of someone who stuck to their identity and integrated the “no frills” into company culture and image. They were good at choosing their people also. When other companies tried to mimic parts of Southwest, but not the package, they experienced expensive failure. What are some other ways to protect against the problem of mimicry?

    October 1, 2011 at 6:48 am
  • Elsie Maio
    Reply

    Larry, kudos on calling attention to a chronic problem and practical solution in such an entertaining way! F’oogled indeed! Elsie

    October 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm

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