business

Danger: It is Fashionable To Bash Facebook and Twitter

It is officially hip to bash Facebook.com and Twitter.com

This was inevitable. Just as AOL chatrooms came in and out of favor in the mid and late 1990s, giving way to Yahoo Groups. Just as Myspace.com was all the rage until Newscorp. bought it and tried to monetize it. Just as Friendster was hot, and then fizzled.

As I read the bells toll for Twitter and Facebook in recent stories in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, a few thoughts come to mind:

1.It is hard to believe that social networking on the whole is a fad. Interaction among friends in a central gathering place seems to me to be a media experience that is here to stay.

2. Be careful about generalizing why people like it. There are different reasons for different people. Some of my friends love the picture sharing and find it a convenient social bulletin board to share experiences. Others like the game apps, like Scrabble and Lexulous.

3.It has become uber fashionable to complain about inane FB updates and tweets, but that is because there are a lot of inane FB updates and Tweets. “Just picked up my dry-cleaning,” was one that made me hide one such friend. But people are editing. Of more than 700 friends, I have hidden dozens because I don’t really care what they are updating.

4.Facebook is definitely challenged to stay relevant, lest it become another Myspace. The company is not all that open, and one wonders if they are conducting research with their members in a dynamic way to identifying how and when to evolve the site. Redesigning the page willy nilly as they have in the past is definitely a bad idea.

5.I’m starting to wonder if Facebook has sufficient creative talent inside to keep it relevant. Instead of just focus-grouping or beta testing, I might be tempted with this product to actually have a rotation of paid interns from different demographic backgrounds work at FB so that their inputs were more organic to the development process. Have some in their teens, some in their sixties, and every demo group in between come work for you and integrate for a time.

6.There is truth in that FB activity has been perhaps artificially driven by new members searching for a lifetime of misplaced friends. This is definitely one of the primary activities of a new FB user. It reminds me of when CDs came out, and the first thing people did was gradually replace half the LPs they had accumulated.

7.Brand sites on Facebook are lame. I am fans/friends of a few. And I get nothing out of them. There are too many that are inactive. And this is a no-brainer. If you are a fan of a brand, that brand should be creating inclusive, engaging content all the time.

8.Targeted advertising is a two edged sword. I love the fact that I get ads related to cycling products or Yankee gear after I post about cycling or the Yankees. It beats getting ads about dogfood, as I don’t have a dog. Relevant advertising is a good thing, if it is in the spirit of keeping a service free. Facebook has been wretched about communicating its intentions, mission and strategy. The company has adopted the Apple Computer “closed culture” philosophy, and it was the wrong tack to take. Facebook faces serious trust issues going forward that Apple does not about what it does with all the data and information it holds and collects, and being Steve Jobs-like about how it discusses it is a very poor strategy. Transparency is what Facebook should be about.

9.Marketers should be able to play in the Facebook playground, but the smart ones will look upon themselves as a member, and not a marketer. Thinking of yourself as a member should govern your decision-making about how and where to be on Facebook and Twitter and keep you out of trouble.

10.One thing Facebook has been good for, I have noticed, is allowing individuals to tap their networks for worthy charitable giving and good works. Facebook and smart advertisers will help make this easier and more fruitful for members, and thus will be more accepted and trusted.

Thanks for listening. All that was too long to tweet.

Follow “David Kiley” on Twitter.

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