Danger: It is Fashionable To Bash Facebook and Twitter

Posted by: David Kiley on September 1, 2009

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.

Reader Comments

bevo

September 1, 2009 8:38 PM

You should finish the logic started in the second paragraph. All those firms are either gone or have run out of gas. Is anyone using Friendster?

Facebook's problem started when it moved beyond its initial purpose. Too bad.

700 friends? Really? 700 people who you would share a drink or break bread with? Really? I call shenanigans. At most, 30 of those 700 are people you care about and would engage in a communal activity with. The rest? Meaningless.

I left Facebook because it made friendship (and protest) too easy. Friendship for the lazy.

Doubledown Tandino

September 2, 2009 12:34 AM

Consider your sources.... Wall Street Journal and NY Times.... two print media sources scared shitless of the future of technology.

Tania devinta nicia

September 2, 2009 2:15 AM

Bwad bnTang ..
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Kpn" kteMuanD ea ..

Mice

September 2, 2009 3:03 AM

Its always been hip to bash facebook, myspace and twitter. ^_^

Tina

September 2, 2009 3:06 AM

Thanks for writing this, I am a facebook user. I like it because I can keep up with my friends and cousins from other countries and see pictures. I'm sick of the changes though, and you are right. Brand name fan pages are just lame.
The status' can be pretty lame sometimes to, like "I need to take a shower" or "I'm hungery" or "my heart is breaking!!!" Seriously, half the poeple on facebook should spend half the time they do on facebook... Facebook is changing too much too fast in my opinion, the makers really need to go back and remember why they started it.
I enjoyed the read! Thanks for sharing.

Madi

September 2, 2009 5:24 AM

thats just great!!

Disco daze

September 2, 2009 5:48 AM

The backlash is not against FB or Twitter per se, but against the infatuation over these services. This reminds me of disco in the 70's: a few high-profile successes ignited a national frenzy where everyone (including my favorite hard rock station) had to get in on the act. Eventually the backlash came and disco faded into what it always should have been: a niche. And so it will go with FB, Twitter, and every other temporary object of intense public fascination -- the ardor will fade, leaving its natural core of fans.

Pule

September 2, 2009 8:13 AM

facebook is da best.

Bob London

September 2, 2009 9:43 AM

Great post. Speaking of inane updates, see this "breaking news:"

Twitters warns Palin, Spears of ‘delisting,’ citing inane tweets by pop star & singer.

Potomac, MD–July 25, 2009. In an apparently unprecedented move that is already triggering outrage among free speech advocates, Twitter, the world’s leading micro-blogging service for self-absorbed early adopters, is planning to reduce the character limit for @AKGovSarahPalin and @britneyspears, two of its most active and famous users, by 50% to 70 characters, according to sources within Twitter’s customer care group.

Read full article at bit.ly/4sFqd

David King

September 2, 2009 12:37 PM

Our B2B clients often come to us with Facebook top-of-mind as the launchpad for their social media efforts, because of the press Facebook gets and the number of users.

But while the Facebook demographic now (and I mean just now) includes older professionals and executives, we don't want to chat with them about their laundry.

It is great for creating a community among employees, events, and viral videos, among other things. But right now most company's want an approach that will improve revenue.

-David King, Gutenberg Communications

JJ I"m Right UR Wrong Walker

September 3, 2009 9:56 AM

Bevo - " it made friendship (and protest) too easy. Friendship for the lazy." Bingo.

Gary

September 3, 2009 2:34 PM

So many updates and so much information but so little is really being said. It just goes to show how lonely and alienated we are. For god's sake, get away from your computer and go engage somebody face to face.

storm

September 3, 2009 4:22 PM

facebook is a passion pit made to destroy marraiges, friendsips and ones own self. don't people have more importnat things to do with their lives---so sad

Gazza

September 10, 2009 10:28 PM

It's a website. I don't understand why people complain about the changes all the time. Do people really think FB will look exactly as it does now in 20 or 30 years? Roll with it.

Rumi

September 14, 2009 2:40 PM

we cant ignore the advantages of facebook..about the silly 'status update',admin has nothig to do,rather the user should be cautious!

samirock007

September 22, 2009 1:19 PM

Hello everyone i am completely new to this forum.
Interested in learning many new things. Hope we all will share our
knowledge and talk about different concepts in this forum.
--------
samirock
-------
mls--mls

Amy

October 19, 2009 2:17 PM

David's worried about face book losing its appeal because he loses the most valuable tool he has had available for cheating on his wife. Yes David I know about the woman in NJ and I would guess that even more instances like this exist. Amy

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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