Friday, December 11, 2009

Facebook, Privacy, OverHype and Bad Business Model

Facebook has just received a lot of flack (deservedly) for their efforts to expose (by force) more of the content people post to their website for all the worlds eyes to see. This is after the failed Beacon service, and other efforts to boost advertising revenue. As an advertising platform this business is significantly over-hyped by a few biased groups:

1] Facebook Employees and Investors - they want to cash out with an IPO then who cares what happens to the business.

2] Social Media Journalists - They are paid to write about social media and of course Facebook is one of the biggest. If Social Media fails to live up to the hype they might be seeking new jobs.

3] Social Media Guru's/Consultants who claim they can help you make bank using websites such as Facebook. Recently it was proven many ex-real estate folks have migrated to Social Media.

4] People who are employed by their firms to be the Social Media Manager - which can be frustrating but also very fun to work on. And who wants to go back to Accounting?

5] Hyper Hype! Facebook and it's promoters spout now 350 million accounts. Yet in August when they had 300 million there were only 92 million unique visitors per comscore. So why the discrepancy? Well I have 2 accounts. 1 personal and 1 for a service of my company Sky Pulse Media. And companies like USocial sell friends and fans by the 1,000's. So there has to be over 100 million zombie accounts!

So those are the vested interests in businesses like Facebook living up to the Advertising Platform Hype.

Considering Facebook is seeking to exploit it's users (community's) information and content to make money as an Ad Platform it really puts their business on the side of Advertisers and not the community who without they would not exist! Kind of like being on the Yankees and offered a massive contract but trying to earn money from the Red Sox instead.

Now I wish to state I don't hate Facebook. The technology is great. It can be bested since it lacks many, many things in terms of the format. But it was the first really simple platform for people to connect with each other. And this is why I get aggro on them. If Facebook took Apple's model and sold their technology to other businesses, or had a subscription model where Advertiser's be damned, then they would be on the same side as the community. It would allow them to do things in a walled garden that people would be willing to participate in more openly. And immediately they would be valued much higher than they are now.

But currently they use this news feed and live news feed as kind of their platform for brands and marketers to listen and reach the community. But just like with Twitter this stream is monstrous. Every time I log in I have 300+ posts I haven't read, of which I usually read the first 25. So over 275 posts I do not see. And 90% of all accounts that I check out are set to private. This proves people want the walled garden. So their business model is going against what the community will champion and as soon as a true alternative pops up people will fly away. If you think they won't social media is littered with the last great hype...Friendster, Myspace, Tribe, sites people spent considerable time developing profiles, uploading photos only to jump away when something better came.

So when I see this whacked out effort to go behind people in a weaselly manner to have them expose themselves more I am allowed to champion the community over the website. I use weasel because instead of having new settings and allowing people to change them...when the window popped up t automatically changed them and you had to change them back. And if your business is a reflection of your ethics, honor, and character then Mark Zuckerberg fails once again on all 3 counts.

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