Monday, December 26, 2011

Facebook is Great Today - What might hurt it tomorrow, though?

Facebook truly is great.

Anyone who knows me personally will wondering whether I took any unauthorized medication.

I make it clear to anyone who knows me that--personally--I cannot stand Facebook.  On my personal website, I even clearly state that I will not answer Facebook messages.  Truthfully, I probably don't even know to read them since I do not go into Facebook hardly ever.

So why am I saying that Facebook is great?

Facebook is great, because of 3 reasons, if not more.
  1. Convenience
  2. Causal Comfort
  3. Free Entertainment
  4. Valuable Advice & Opinions (Reviews)
1. Facebook is Convenient

Facebook allows you to update a ton of people at one time.

How many people do you know that only send event (party, speaking, etc.) invitations ONLY through Facebook?

I bet you know, at least, one person.  You probably know a lot of people who do it.

Me, too.

Why would they do this?  It's convenient.

First, they can just send out one (1) notice, and they have informed everyone they want.

Second, you do not have to remember nor look up anyone's email address, because all you have to do is select their name.  Facebook will connect everything else for you.

2. Facebook is Casual

Hardly anyone on Facebook cares about people using proper grammar or paragraph structure.  In fact, you probably are taking yourself way too seriously on Facebook if you share too many things with paragraphs.

It also seems like hardly any topic is taboo.

I hear people make fun of other people giving updates of their children going to baseball or cheerleading practice, but it seems like these posts get comments.  I certainly don't see anyone getting offended enough to write something in protest.

If we do not want to participate inside of a conversation, we do not have to respond.  Since the post was to all of us--not just one of us--we will not offend anyone when we don't respond to a topic that does does not interest us.

3. Facebook provides free entertainment.

Facebook is brilliant about finding new ways to keep people coming and staying within Facebook.

Anyone heard of Farmville?  That might be yesterday's game, but Facebook always has more interactive games.

The best part?

They are FREE.  You can spend countless hours alternating between playing Facebook games and communicating with your group of "Friends."

4. Facebook provides more trustworthy advice and reviews (opinions).
{Note: SEO Internet Marketers  definitely need to read this part.}

While Google keeps finding ways to improve their search results, they still are handling web pages of content that most people created themselves or hired other people to create for them.

We never really know whether a "review" that we see is honest or biased.  Plus, most of these reviews that we read come from people we really do not know, even if it happens to be a well-written objective review of the product or service.

There are lots of people finding ways to "game the system" on Google and other search engines.  (As internet marketers, we do this all of the time--even if we are trying to provide good quality content white hat techniques.  We're still trying to find ways to make Google pick our site first.)

Most people posting things and commenting on Facebook are people giving their honest thoughts.  They are not trying to market anything.

If they hate something, many people will gladly share their disdain after spending their hard-earned money on something crummy.

To the other extreme, people generally are not going to say something nice about a product or service, unless they feel like they spent their money or time really well.  People are excited to get genuine bargains, and many of these people want to seem like someone "in the know" by sharing this great deal amongst their friends.

Sure, there are people who "cheat the system" within Facebook, but you can get a much truer read on market research, because so many people are giving honest opinions about things.

So what might hurt Facebook?

Facebook exploded, because it really was an innocent social device.  People could share information efficiently for free.

However, where there are gobs of people, there are predators.

They came to visit us on TV and on the radio.

They are....BUSINESSES.

Business are great.  They provide jobs, develop new products, make it easier for us to buy things we want, etc.
We usually watched TV for the shows--not the commercials.  However, the TV stations could not continue to operate without income from these advertising sponsors.

Eventually, that created a market for people to pay extra money to watch TV stations that did not show any commercials.  (Ironically, even they were advertising on the standard TV stations.)

Fast forward to today's time, many of us enjoy using Facebook.  It is sort of like TV, because it provides us with entertainment that is free of charge to us who are using it.  There are games to play.  It is easy to communicate with your friends, even posting pictures and videos are easy to do.

There are lots of things to bring people to use Facebook.

A New Pattern Developing on Facebook

However, I can see something developing that could create "pollution" on Facebook.

Already, there are Facebook Ads, which are similar to the sponsored ads that you see on the top or side panel of Google search results.

Facebook is sort of tricky with these, too.  Many of these ads sort of blend with their own promoted products.  So you might not even realize that you are clicking on something unrelated to Facebook.

Facebook is a database, collecting information about you and the topics that make you respond.  So these Facebook Ads can really tempting to click.

That is both good and bad.  If you are interested in something genuinely, that is terrific that Facebook makes it so easily available for you.

The Bad Pattern

I see something else developing, which is not very good.

I see companies bribing people to "Like" their Facebook Fan Page.

Some business provide mainstream service which fit this model well.  Great restaurants create enough passion that people might feel compelled to "Like" a specific restaurant.  You might be able to say this about other things, like clothing stores, jewelry stores, or even car washes.

I respect the feature which allows people to vote (Like) for something that they really like.
However, I lose my respect for a tire place making "deals" that they will give you a 10% discount if you "Like" them.  Unfortunately, search engines seem to be rewarding (and encouraging) this type of behavior.

These types of bribes will obliterate the honest reviews that people using Facebook come to value.

If these bribes become too mainstream, we will eventually have to ask whether that person really LIKED the service or just enjoyed the benefit of the bribe the sponsoring company provided.

It won't be long before there are people who are hired to act as though they are a regular person who likes (or hates) all of these different businesses.

I do not blame the businesses for leveraging models presented to them.

I just hope that Facebook does not deteriorate into something like television, a polluted media that people enjoy but don't respect.

Hopefully, Facebook will continue to be a place where we hear something really good about people and businesses doing the right things, and people know that they can believe them.

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