It’s Time to Rethink Facebook

You’re thinking of leaving Facebook. I’m thinking of leaving Facebook. You want to leave because you feel like your data is not safe, the customer experience is not what it used to be and you’re creeped out by the contextual advertising and oh yea, the political vitriol. It may be time to evaluate the value of your relationship with Facebook.

You feel this way because in September of 2018 there was a data breach that affected 50 million users, and you might have been one of them. That’s a legit reason. Then there was the Cambridge Analytica scandal. You know, the one in which the political consulting firm connected to the Trump campaign, harvested the sensitive data of nearly 87 million Facebook users without their explicit permission, and then did something with it; but you’re not sure what “it” is. I’m not either, but that’s a pretty good reason to leave too.. And then there’s that whole contextual advertising thing taking place on the social network. You search for sunglasses and low and behold your Facebook pages are filled with Ray Ban ads. It IS creepy, especially when we start to fold AI into the mix (Are they listening to me?)

Regardless of your level of discontent, chances are you might be looking around and wondering out loud, is there something better? If you’re in the United States and you’re between the ages of 25 and 34, you’re wondering out loud the most, as this group has the most Facebook users at 50 million+.  In Europe, the feeling is no less different.  creating the global sense that Facebook users need more than what Facebook is giving. Or is it what they are taking? Depends on who you’re talking to.

The crux of the issue isn’t that you want to leave Facebook just because of the data breaches, the contextual advertising and the never-ending political finger pointing. The real raison d’être could be that you just don’t like the user experience anymore. I know I don’t. It has grown stale and repetitive. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you’ve grown weary of seeing the same people posting over and over about the same things, the same dialogue, over and over and over again. You like them as people for the most part but now they’re getting on your nerves. Just walk away you’re told, don’t log on. You try, but Facebook is everyone’s favorite dumpster fire, train wreck, car wreck, church choir, food-court, public drunk, on full display. You can’t turn away. It’s a voyeur’s delight.

Just for some perspective, do you know how many of the 2.2 billion users that Facebook has, have bailed due to the data breach? A lot. in some cases, upwards of 40% have decided to take “a break” from the social network. So my question is this. Has Facebook lost the trust of its core users or the fringe users? Forty percent is a lot.

Data breaches aside, and for some additional perspective, what do users like about the Facebook UX? For some, it’s graphic, it’s visual and it’s conversational. For others, it’s all about the connective aspect of the platform and the ability to “lurk” on what’s occurring in other peoples’ lives. Still some like the fact that the barrier of entry into the collective pulse of what is current, is low and seamless. The graphical layout is semi-easy on the eyes and the browsing experience is uber simple and it’s content rich. For many, it has replaced what AOL used to be to the masses-an internet portal into the world around us, except with more of a direct lifeline to our friends, their friends, our families, our likes and of course our dislikes. But Facebook is flawed.

As AOL eventually became overrun by “better” alternatives and we all became pretty weary of another AOL disc in the mail, this too shall pass with Facebook. Regardless of the fact that there are 2 billion active users on the social network, we will move on to something newer and shinier. It’s inevitable and the numbers are slowly starting to say the same thing.

At its peak, AOL had over 35 million active users, and though those numbers pale in comparison to Facebook, those were really big numbers back then. However, if you had told those 35 million users that eventually AOL would be deemed irrelevant in less than 10 years, they might have laughed. So what is currently out there that might replace Facebook? Here’s a list of contenders/pretenders “other” than Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snap, in no particular order. Peruse them in depth at your leisure. I don’t endorse them, I just found them.

  1. Diaspora
  2. Minds
  3.  Raftr 
  4. Mastodon
  5. Ello
  6. Family Wall
  7. Next Door
  8. 23 Snaps
  9. Edmodo
  10. MeWe
  11. Steemit
  12. Vero
  13. Sociall.io

So what will it take for these networks, or a future network to succeed? Will it be a data thing? A privacy thing? Will it be something in which we pay to play? In my opinion, it’s going to take something that is not Facebook in the least bit. Something that will be completely different and more experiential. Perhaps it’s VR or AR based. It will be equivalent of the Model T versus the horse. When Facebook came on the scene, there was nothing like it. There were things like it already such as MySpace and or Friendster, but we had seen nothing quite like it.

Clearly social networking and social networks fill a niche and a need to communicate, to share, to emote and to vent, but at what cost? When does Facebook jump the shark?

Facebook Stickers- Bad Idea Good execution…

glasses

Did Facebook just jump the shark?  Or does it just seem like it? Back in April of 2013, Facebook launched stickers but only in private messages. Now they’re is rolling out the “stickers” feature to everyone’s timeline posts, enabling users to voice their opinions with a cat, a smiley, or anything else that’s in the Facebook’s Sticker Store (social commerce?) (virtual goods?)

Initally only available in Japan, the feature appears to be rolling out globally. One has to ask the question why? Yes we needed something other than a thumbs up, but stickers? Really?

I’ve said for awhile that social is killing the written word and now this, the dawn of the social infused emoji.  This just solidifies my belief. So instead of saying how much fun I had at the beach with my friends. I’ll just do this…

stickers1     stickers2  stickers3

Where’s that sad frowny emoji when I need it?

😦

What Should Be The Outcome of Brand Conversations in Social?

Do big brands actually have conversations with the people/customers/prospects that friend, follow and fan them? Before we answer that, let’s talk about the dynamics of what we the consumer “feel” if a brand does talk to us. Happiness? A sense of belonging or inclusiveness? What should happen after the like?

What does a consumer want? Do they want content? Do they want to share what the brand says? Do they want something? Do consumers really want the following conversations?

Tom: “Maybe I should buy Famous shoe brand x shoes and walk to work, it would be quicker!”

Famous Shoe Brand: 2 hours later “Hey Tom, how’s it going today? What’s new?”

Tom: 5 minutes later “Not much, got in late today because of traffic”

Famous Shoe Brand: 2 hours later “Really? You’re in LA, was it the 405? What about taking the Santa Monica (10) Freeway east, the Hollywood (101) Freeway north through the Cahuenga Pass?”

Tom: 5 minutes later “Hey yea I never thought about that! Got any free shoes?”

Famous Shoe Brand: 24 hours later…”Nope sorry, but check out our new video and share it with your friends!”

According to eMarketer, Marketers know that building a Facebook page is not just about collecting “likes” but building relationships with  fans and getting them to share and discuss brand-related content.

Is the above simulated conversation the basis for a relationship? No, but maybe it’s a start. What might be Tom’s impression of the shoe brand now?

Social has created a situation in which brands  are now on the hook more than ever before for creating compelling, sharable, consumable digital content. Yes, at the end of the day engagement wins and brands are competing every day for the eyeballs of their digital consumers who have or haven’t liked their brand. In return they will get the interest and consideration of the user/consumer. Thus brands are banking on  consistent, high level, content posted daily being relevant and interesting; and that in return it leads to what?

Leads, conversions and sales right? Let’s not lose sight on why brands are doing this. But those same brands need to understand what the  digital, social, consumer’s expectation and motivation is as well.

The Assumptive Close of Facebook App Registrations

There needs to be a better way. I wanted to download a report that was on Scribd but I needed to Login/Signup. My options? Use Facebook or standard email addy. But upon further investigation of signing up via Facebook, I see that Scribd will access the following data below.

What if I don’t want Scribd to send me emails, post to my wall, access my networks, my user ID and a list of all my friends? It seems a little bit excessive don’t you think? There has got to be a better way for Scribd and it’s users to derive mutual value from each other through Facebook registrations. This just isn’t it. Am I wrong? And yes I know they are not the only one’s doing this…People need to understand the value of their data. Their social currency is gold to others and they need to leverage it as such.

When Social Media Strategy Becomes Irrelevant

 

What’s important? Every day online and in the social media bubble we talk about ROI and the strategy and the channels used to grow your social media presence and impact. Here are 3 examples where social media has never figured more prominently and yet it had nothing to do with strategy or ROI, but had everything to do with the engine that does drive social media, PEOPLE.

This past Friday, YouTube created the YouTube Person Finder a channel that is aggregating video messages from the victims and the people affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan more than a week ago. No strategy, no ROI justification-Just YouTube realizing that they could create something that could help people in a time of need.

Meanwhile Google, creates the Google Person Finder which is pulling all relevant search information about people affected in the region into a simple interface. You can either supply information that you know about someone or you can search information posted about someone you know. On top of this, Google has created the Google Crisis Response Page which in my opinion should be shared by everyone just based on the amount of information posted and updated on it.

A Facebook Causes page was recently created to support and raise awareness and funds for the earthquake and tsunami victims.  The page is called Help Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Victims, and it allows Facebook users to donate anywhere from $10 to $500, or they can join the cause and share it with their Facebook friends.  So far they have raised $240.000  This might not seem like a lot but every bit of it will help. Additional Facebook resources can also be found here  Global Disaster Relief on Facebook page.

This is bigger picture stuff here and at the end of the day has nothing to do with business strategies or ROI but has everything to do with people using the power of social media to make a difference when it matters most-People in need. Impactful stuff…

 

Monetizing Facebook

 

Let’s look at three situations.

We’ve all been wondering either on the behalf of the company’s we work for, or the clients we serve, or for ourselves- How can we leverage Facebook to actually make money?  Recently, Social commerce platform ChompOn, threw down the gauntlet by publishing some data on how much a Facebook share and tweet is worth.

For those who have never heard of ChompOn, they are a site/service where you’re able to create  Groupon like widgets to embed on your website.

Real quickly, for shares and tweets, ChompOn was able to attribute sales to the original action, so they took the total revenue attributed to each action and divided it by the total number of shares/tweets. For likes and follows, they had to estimate attribution by looking at their traffic references and subtracting out purchases made through shares/tweets as well as purchases made through direct traffic.

I don’t know. It seems like such an inexact science. I know it’s based on The notion of group buying shares and likes and tweets but still…Can we be that precise on the value of a share or a tweet? If we were, I would think much more would be happening in this space and business. Is that why Groupon was valuated so high?

    Next we have some data by Emarketer in which it was reported that US marketers will spend $3.08 billion to advertise on social networking sites this year. Additionally, that growth in spending will bring social media ad dollars to 10.8% of the total spent online in the US.

    US Social Network Ad Revenues, 2009-2012 (billions and % change)

    What’s not surprising though was that the primary driver of the change in projected spending is because of greater ad spending on Facebook.

    ”2010 was the year that Facebook firmly established itself as a major force not only in social network advertising but all of online advertising,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson, author of the upcoming report “Worldwide Social Network Ad Spending: 2011 Outlook.” “In 2011, its global presence is something multinational advertisers can’t ignore.”

    Facebook Ad Revenues, 2009-2012 (billions)

     

    These numbers just blow me away. Look at the change in revenue from 2009 to 2012 in the US alone!

    OK last one here. Recently SmartPulse  conducted a poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — asking:  Have you bought ads on social networks? If so, did the ads deliver a high return on investment?

    The choices consisted of the following:

    • No, I have never purchased ads on social sites — 64.86%
    • Yes, I have bought ads on social networks and the return on investment was low — 27.03%
    • Yes, I have bought ads on social networks and the return on investment was high — 8.11%

    I’m going to echo the question that was broached in the body of the survey results: “Why is the ad spend on social sites growing so rapidly, and will it continue?” I’m then going to affirm the next statement:

    I am astonished by these ad-sales figures, since everyone I seem to ask either says they’ve never purchased social ads, or they have bought ads, but would never do it again because of extremely low return.

    Am in the bubble that ignores banner and display ads? Perhaps. isn’t the click thru something like 1/2%?  I get it that social networks understand that their main source of income is always going to be derived the majority of the time from advertising. Facebook it would seem, is ideal then, given their 600 million registered users; because it can indeed provide a platform to purchase highly targeted ads based on specific demographics. But I think this highlights a bigger issue-No one is challenging a better way to make money either via Facebook or in social, either from a platform perspective, aside from a subscription model, or from the advertiser/brand side.

    So of the three scenarios. Is a Facebook share really worth $14? Are advertisers wasting money on Facebook? What advertiser is making money on Facebook? What brand is doing a killer job of utilizing Facebook to make money and can prove it?