Friday, October 12, 2007

facebook is so over [rant]

I don't log into facebook anymore. I mean I do, but not every day. I just don't care. I'm a bit sick of all the frivolous updates, all the stupid app updates (I don't care if you turned someone into a zombie), all the random people with no network asking to be friends.

I was watching this interesting video of a panel, the FacebookFanboyPanel (45 minutes in case you were wondering). It's actually incredibly frustrating. this is the first time i've watch silicon valley geeks debate facebook, so it's not that i found it all repetitive. I just find it so misguided. Guess what, Dave McClure and Robert Scoble -- you guys are insanely unique. You're techie, and geeky, and not at all like the rest of the world. The way you use something is almost guaranteed to be different than the way a regular person does. And until something appeals to the regular people, the average, the norm, it's not going to blow up the way that Google did.

Just because Facebook knows you put skiing as an interest on your profile (note: not that you LIKE skiing or that you actually GO skiing but JUST that you put it into a text field on a website where you are trying to create a cool identity) does not mean that you are in a statistically significant way any more likely to click on an ad about skiing (note: I made that up. But I'll look it up and update this post if I find anything). People who make profiles on these sites are trying to make themselves LOOK GOOD. This is key. They want to look GOOD. They are trying to portray an identity, whether if it's because they want to appear artsy fartsy by listing lots of Thomas Pynchon (yeah right you read Gravity's Rainbow and it was your favorite book ever) or if they want to seem like they have raging social lives or if they want to emphasize how they don't have time to bother with all of this by creating a crappy profile and never logging in again (except to approve friend requests, of course). Why do you think there are so many pictures of college kids drunk on Facebook? Because it makes them LOOK GOOD. It means they're fun and have lives and party every night. DUH.

When you go to Google and type in "Gravity's Rainbow", that is SO MUCH MORE significant than putting it on your facebook profile, or if your friends on facebook all had it listed in their profiles. It means you actually got off your ass and typed it into a search box *at the moment you had an interest*, and not just to look good (cause no one can see it) and not to portray an image, but because you're actually INTERESTED in it. I'd say the odds of clicking an ad selling the book in that situation is way higher than if it's on Facebook.

This stuff is so transient -- myspace yesterday, facebook today, ??? tomorrow. I feel like I have more to say but I haven't even finished the video yet. End of Rant.

update: And don't play this off as some people are "influencers" and are going to be worth it in terms of branding yada yada yada. That is so Malcolm Gladwell circa the Tipping Point. Just because you have 5000 friends on Facebook does not mean that you are going to sell more Tide, or Dolce and Gabbana, or Mercedes, or whatever. The only way that having 5000 friends is profitable is that there are nutters out there who think having 5000 friends means something and are willing to pay you for it. Doesn't mean it's sustainable.


  1. I like this rant. You made your point very eloquently.

  2. Firstly, thank christ you're back. I missed your ranting.

    Secondly, as you know I've told you and many other friends to go to Facebook. Heed my admonition, it will be profitable. I know being an engineer sucks, but just for one year!

    Thirdly, it doesn't necessarily matter that Facebook is using advertising in a way that is less effective than search advertising. Once it becomes _the_ destination that people go to for social networking the latent influence it holds will attract money. It may not be from advertising, but they'll find a way. Or more accurately someone will find a way.

    In a field like social networking eventually there'll be one dominant player and a bunch of second-tier players (much like search). The field hasn't full shaken out yet so it's hard to say who the dominant player is going to be, and it may take time because myspace and facebook still have non-overlapping demographics. But it will happen, and eventually there'll be one place to go.

    Once that happens the dollars will follow.

    You're right that saying you're into skiing doesn't necessarily imply showing you a skiing ad is going to be profitable but that's only one type of gem that you can dig out of the demographic data-mine.

    Age, sex, words you've used in messages to friends, links to music or products. All these things makes the archetypal marketer salivate.

    Facebook IPOs at market cap over 10B.

    Caveat emptor: I don't use Facebook or any other social network. I fear change and technology.

  3. Hi just twittered your post to Robert...asking him a clarification...

  4. waOw...its a nice article...made me try to close my FB