As I explore the landscape of social media to publicize my business, one can't miss that Facebook has changed the way we interact and certainly encouraged - if that's the right word - many of us to browse the web somewhat differently. In one job interview back in 1999 for an online ticketing agency in Paris (before lastminute.com came and pooed on the business model) I was asked:
'Where do you spend the most time on the web?'
Back then it was basically my email (Yahoo) and Alta Vista (the search engine) - no single page grabbed my attention although of course I told the interviewer that every morning I perused the pink paper online. Am not sure he believed me because our interview was at 11am and it was patently obvious that I had struggled to get out of bed on time.
Now it is our business website closely followed by Facebook and LinkedIn that garner most of my time. But of the two runners-up, I enjoy spending the most time on Facebook. Or I did.
As Facebook hurtles towards its IPO, the proposition has noticeably changed from a purely social tool (in line with its mission to connect people) to a business model generating revenues from advertising a hosting platform for game apps and a tool for businesses to create publicity driving traffic back to their website. Not a day goes past when I am not hit with a request to like someone's page, or that my news is not clogged up by business page ads, or updates from the only two - prolific - people I wanted to follow (Pete Cashmore, Mashable and Tim Ferris, 4 hour work week). Thanks to their feature 'most popular stream', I barely see my friends on it anymore. They're there, but buried underneath 50 feet of online marketing noise.
Facebook has lost its direction, its heart and its humanity. And it will soon lose its life blood - its customers. The simplicity that it once embodied - catching up with friend's personal lives with statuses, short posts and photos - has become muddied and clouded. No one knows for sure what it is - and worse - people care less and less. They turn to Twitter which hasn't changed since its inception and Pinterest where the proposition is simple and enjoyable... although if you like intellectual discussion with a soupcon of superiority you might have crossed over to G+. Noticeably Google's attempt to produce a decluttered facebook resulted in uncovering a fatal flaw in Facebook's strategy. In G+ the big excitement was being able to follow/circle (stalk) people you didn't know.
And within a matter of days, Facebook scrambled to disclose it's subscriber module which implemented the exactly the same functionality. Facebook - the pioneer - turned out to be nothing but a yes-man. We're fast losing faith. Now they move to allow public figures to have verifiable accounts - just like Google. Not to mention the implementation of timeline for all accounts; a blatant move to re-categorize consumer lifecycle statistics which will now be more easily traceable and analysed for all those market research companies.Yes, in an effort to improve it's dwindling rate of uptake, it seeks to add value to its business model once more the only way it can by exploiting its biggest asset. Us.
I started an online consultancy. It made me want to drink copious quantities, smoke myself into oblivion and hit my head against a brick wall. Instead I wrote a blog.
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