Last week, Facebook added a new functionality to their photo tagging system: Now, in addition to tagging friends in your photos, you can also tag brands. In a launch statement, the company said that the change “enables people to share richer stories with friends about the things they interact with in the real-world, such as businesses, brands, celebrities, and musicians.”
Facebook gives examples of how you can tag a photo with a page, including a photo of a woman holding a tagged can of Coke. Mashable reports that in just a few short days, Coca-Cola, Zappos and Starbucks have begun racking up user-tagged photos.
Here’s our question: What’s the incentive to tag a brand in your personal photos? Certainly Facebook has an incentive — Nicholas Jackson at The Atlantic speculates that the company plans to use tagging as a source of revenue. But why would regular Facebook users, who certainly won’t be sharing these profits, choose to engage in this? Brands might come up with their own plans to get people to post and tag pictures of themselves and their friends drinking Coke or standing in the Starbucks line — contests and discounts would be the obvious choice for this. But the feature is basically asking any one of the 600 million people on Facebook to become an amateur product marketer.
If we don’t adopt brand-tagging, Facebook may build the technology so that it happens automatically, say, whenever you upload a photo that has a can of Diet Coke in it. Right now, brands are encouraging their fans to participate (of course). Still the whole thing begs the question: Would you do it?