So, today I have completed the marketing exam. My mind is still quite focused on concepts (and my performance in the exam), so in the little ‘power-down’ period I have, I thought I might write a few thoughts on a service we all use so much that it is now ubiquitous: Facebook.
Facebook now has hundreds of millions of users around the world. It has been described as a ‘meta-layer’ (BOL podcast, within the last 2 weeks) of the internet. This is easily seen in Facebook Connect and Instant Personalisation functions. These extend your Facebook account identity to third-party websites, and personalise the content of said website according to what you have in your profile.
These functions are also common functions of social networks which include the Wall (public messages), groups/pages, events pages, photo/video sharing etc…
Now, don’t get me wrong. Facebook is fantastic at keeping in touch with people you haven’t spoken/seen in a long time. As people’s contact details change their Facebook presence is constant, regardless of whether they have updated it with their new address or not (in most cases). It makes easy to arrange events at a moment’s notice, share media, tell your friend that they’re cool, and so on. That’s why I like Facebook, now here’s why I don’t.
Facebook has moved into a position where it wants to be a central repository for your identity and content. Because all your information (including page, group data etc) is on the site and organised (in most cases) by you, this potentially makes it easy for them to share this information to advertisers and third-parties. Subsequently, marketers can segment down to your interests what you like, and serve up super-relevant ads. Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder) said at the recent D8 conference that the world will move towards applications designed around people and the nature of what people do, not software.
What is also noticeable, and mentioned by Zuckerberg, is that new Facebook features are almost always protested, because an engineer has found a new way to present information. Take a look at News/Live Feed. It was met with intense criticism initially, but now it is standard and quite useful.
Now here is what I prefer to do. I’m not a fan of signing up for services that duplicate functionality I already have. I share my photos on Flickr. I try to use email as much as possible (minimise Facebook messaging/wall posting). But note, this doesn’t mean I’ll stop using Facebook. (Actually, maybe this will)