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?

The Biggest Social Media Story of 2013

Remember this? It’s one of the classic lines of all times in a movie. Greed is Good.

greedisgood

Remember this? It was one of the biggest acquisitions in 2013.

tweet

 

Remember this because it will be the social media headline of 2013…

 

snap

To quote The New York Times:

What business makes no money, has yet to pass its third anniversary and just turned down an offer worth billions of dollars? Snapchat, a social media service run by a pair of 20-somethings who until last month worked out of a beachfront bungalow in Venice, Calif.

The answer is in this last headline.

 

nytimes

 

A better offer…

The Attention Economy is Distracting Me

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Twitter has the RT button and the favorite button. Linkedin has an endorse button, Facebook has a like button and G+ has the plus.  I know you “get” what they all do, at least you should, but I have a question for you.  Aren’t all of those social buttons just surface level engagement triggers that require little or no engagement by the user and the recipient? Yes? No?

Of course they are, and I’m OK with it  and you should be too. Let me explain. I’ll keep it brief.  🙂

When you notice or have been notified that you have been liked or favorited or endorsed, what changes for you? How do you react? Do you feel that you now must reciprocate? Do you like the attention you just received? Was it your goal to get attention? Do you care? Do you feel anything or do you just move on? It all depends on who it is, right? For me, I try to take time to understand the why behind the why. Why did that person do what they just did? What were they trying to elicit from me? Why me? But maybe I’m looking too deeply into the action than the action itself really deserves? I think I am.

You see, because of the volume of content that one is subjected to each and every day, at least from my standpoint, the ability to give that content or source, all of the needed attention it made greatly deserve, is greatly diminished. The best you might get from me as I race past your stuff at 100 mph, is the virtual equivalent of a nod.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to read your stuff, it’s just that the best you can get from me right now is a like or a star or a favorite.

The only slight little problem with that “action,” is that by allowing people to click a like or favorite button, we unknowingly might be reducing true engagement and the possibility of an actual, ok semi-actual, conversation.

The irony though, is that we (marketers) still look at that piece of user/consumer data as being really valuable; and don’t get me wrong, it does have a use and value. It’s just that we’re so desperate for good social data, that we’re willing to create, support and proactively use a somewhat worthy and somewhat hollow metric that is The Like, The RT, The Endorse and The Favorite.

What those buttons really measure is a modicum of attention, a flicker of action and the “hope” of engagement.  So why are we suckers for clicking on them?  For the majority of users, NOT clicking the button means that they might NOT get something for their time and effort. For the rest of us, clicking is the least (or maybe the most) that can we do in this always on, multi-channel, multi-device world.

I do want to read your stuff, I really do. I just don’t have an answer for you yet on how I can add your content to the 32 tabs I have open, Besides, I’m too busy looking at someone’s profile who I don’t know, endorsing me for a skill I don’t have on Linkedin. :).

10 Digital Unpredictions for 2013

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It’s safe to say that just because I waited until January 8th, it doesn’t mean that I can’t roll out what I think will happen in the next 12 months. In other words, not posting prediction pieces in December does not diminish their likelihood of occurring. In the immortal words of former NFL coach, Dennis Green, predictions are what we thought they were.

With that said, I wanted to go with things that can truly occur in 2013. Thus they aren’t predictions they’re the opposite, they’re Unpredictions!  I’ll explain why with each one .

 

  1. The GIF goes Hyper. Some say that the GIF has grown up. Well once they grow up, then they’re on their own right? The only limitation? One’s own creativity. Which may mean the GIF becomes so 5 minutes ago in about 3 months. 🙂
  2. Image is everything-meaning image sharing sites continue to explode, mystify and push the envelope.  Snapchat, Poke and Instagam are the first iteration, which is scary.
  3. This tape will self-destruct in 10 seconds.  See the Poke link above. But know this, Data deletion will become de rigeur i.e. standard. Want to combat the Nano bytes of data that seem to replicate exponentially? Eliminate it almost as soon as it’s created, especially if it’s useless. Look for that to be a growing option in 2013. want to know who really takes advantage of this? marketers. Marketers will jump on this and snap a gamification piece onto data deletion. In other words, Act now. No we mean it, Now!
  4. Speaking of hard drives. They become useless too in 2013. Can we just get a better name than The Cloud?
  5. Content isn’t King. The creator of the content is King! The act of publishing of content is no longer the issue. The platforms, they’re simple. But the person or marketing teams who “get” the user and write for the user, they are the new kings.
  6. Simple is the Queen to the Content Creator but dumbing it down will continue to dominate design.  Why do you think Video has exploded? Because no one wants to read! Duh!
  7. The Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple games/wars continue in earnest in 2013. This is about the easiest prediction in the bunch. But predicting who comes out on top for the year 2013-We put our money on Amazon. Surprised?
  8. 2013 decides whether Google Plus becomes relevant since users seem to be incapable of figuring that out.
  9. In 2013 everyone realizes that they must measure their digital and social efforts but that still doesn’t solve the problem.  Prepare for the birth of the Social Data Analyst Marketer.
  10. Contrary to what this article says, the death watch of the desktop officially begins.

 

Can anything that any of us predict, really happen in 12 months? Not really. In order for it to happen, it really has to be in the works prior to 2013, right? So that means, maybe they aren’t so much predictions as they are things that should happen because everything that we have seen heard and experienced in the past 12 months, indicate that they should happen.

Let the games begin.

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.

Seriously, What’s “A Like” Worth on Facebook?

A good friend who is the SVP of marketing for a very large Fortune 500 company recently asked me via email the following question(s)

Do you believe in the Klout score? If you were to set a KPI for success in social, would it be FB likes? and if not, what would you recommend?  My view on this is that FB likes is not the right metric, but I am not sure what is….

Great Question isn’t it?

Here was my protracted, elongated and expanded version of the original answer…

You’re views on the right metric are dead on. I’m surprised that there are still marketers out there hanging their hat on a metric based on total numbers only, but there are.  Lots of marketers have tried to peg the value of a Facebook fan/like in fact I recently read that when a Ticketmaster user posts a specific event they are attending, or may want to attend, to Facebook, it generates $5.30 of direct ticket sales

Another company called Vitrue, figures that bringing a customer on as a fan was worth between 44 cents and $3.60 in increased sales from the engagement that Facebook encourages.

The best KPI in social should be attracted to what you want to achieve. i.e. We’re going to use social to drive sales, for lead gen, for referrals, for bookings, for awareness through brand mentions etc. etc.. I don’t gauge success in social on an arbitrary growth metric of total likes, followers etc.. Initially marketers and myself included a number of years ago, thought that social success was reflected in growth of followers and likes but sadly though, you can’t. But it’s easy to get caught up in that.

Look at a Starbucks, who became early on, the darlings of social media and engagement because of the fact they grew to a million Twitter followers rather quickly. So it was assumed that a) Starbucks had mastered “social media” and b) Their “campaign” was successful because of their explosive growth in followers.  But what was that growth based on? In other words, what did Starbucks do to get the million followers? A massive push? Killer engagement? No. Nothing out of the ordinary. It was really because they are the brand, Starbucks. It just happened, but tons of pundits/people and social media consultants were looking at that million follower mark as social nirvana. As if SBucks had just rewritten the books on how to engage- when at the end of the day, they didn’t do anything other than just set up a Twitter account early on. It was just a number.

The question then becomes larger-What are you doing with the million plus followers? I think SBucks does a great job now of engagement but initially they were just as guilty as every other brand back then feeling their way around social. Push style engagement focused on growing fans, followers and likes.
I’m with you though- growing FB likes and patting yourself on the back for growth, doesn’t cut it. Now if marketers can tell us because of those likes we were able to convert them into x amount of bookings or sales, well now we’re getting somewhere. I know, there’s still that whole social branding for awareness thing that in a sense could be tied to the growth of likes, but then let’s measure it appropriately right? Let’s understand that we’re leveraging FB for specific and measurable purposes and work off of that notion.

While Facebook can provide real names of people who “like” a product, it doesn’t provide data to us on what sites are sending traffic to a fan page, how long your visitors are spending there and how they’re moving around inside the pages. No additional analytics services can be installed on Facebook pages thus we’re absolutely at the disposal of Facebook regarding these metrics.

I believe in what Klout is trying to do, maybe just not in the metrics they are using to measure influence. But right now the space is so nascent, what else is there right? A lot of brands are starting to attach themselves to Klout because they want to engage with those “uber” champions in their respective fields identified by Klout’s social metrics algo. Klout is breaking new ground in this space and I anticipate it getting better in identifying people who can move the needle for a brand.

Hope this helps

Marc