research group Ipsos Reid's "Social Networking: 2009" poll, Canadians are flocking to social networking sites. In the last 18 months, the percentage of Canucks with a social networking profile has increased from 39% to 56%. This rapid rise in social networking users has Canadian marketers scratching their heads as to how they can best brand in the space. With more than three quarters of those online owning a Facebook profile, it's not surprising that the blue beast is the main topic of discussion in relation to marketing groups. Says report writer Mark Laver, "Online social networks tend to be extremely personal and this thus creates a dilemma for marketers and businesses - how to communicate in a personalized setting without upsetting the target audience."
Nevertheless, while traditional marketers are often met with resistance within the site, political advocates working within Facebook have had resounding success in Canada.
Perhaps most successful is University of Ottawa professor, Michael Geist's, outspoken stance against the introduction of the Canadian DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). A little over a year ago, Geist launched his Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook Group in the hopes of educating the public about a bill he saw as a "sell out to American pressure". Geist believed that Bill C-60 would have effectively duplicated American copyright legislation and created an unfair imbalance between copyright holders and general consumers. Thousands of Canadians agreed and the Fair Copyright Facebook group gained widespread popularity.
On the day the DMCA was to be voted upon, the Facebook group had more than 25,000 members and Federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice dissolved the legislation in favor of further analysis. While there was no admittance from the Minister that online resistance was the reason, Industry opposition Charlie Angus exclaimed, "They tabled the bill this morning, now 3 hours later he tells me they've got cold feet? Did they just discover Facebook this morning?"
Whether Canadians like it or not, Facebook has changed the landscape of Canadian politics. Geist's Fair Copyright for Canada group currently has more than 89,000 members, and he was named the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer of 2008. Meanwhile, the Conservative government has promised to reintroduce the DMCA, but no date has been set in legislature. For more on the Geist and the Facebook group, check out the coverage on CBC's The Hour.