Ubiquitous Facebook

Go out with a group of friends and notice how many times Facebook crops up. Did you see it on Facebook… don’t put that on Facebook… I read about your holiday on Facebook… are you on Facebook (instead of the hassle of swapping mobile numbers). It really is becoming ubiquitous with socialising.

Where there are customers, companies will follow suit (like lions to the zebra). Every vertical from retail to radio; from celebrity to cinema are clambering to get aboard the good ship Zuckerberg.

Simple example: the Radio 1 Xtra blog is now their Facebook page. The BBC has scores of blogs and other social media eye candy but Facebook makes it easier for people to comment (and spam), to ‘like’, to interact with. This equals an increase in engagement – isn’t that the Holy Grail that marketers crave so badly?

What’s the problem then? Well, after flipping their privacy policy three times, Facebook has the same level of trust as your average politician. A-list tech folks have deleted their accounts in protest. Well, they tried. It’s a lot harder than you’d think.

So, crucially, whose data is it? Facebook would say it’s yours, but this difficulty in exporting/copying your data and then deleting what Facebook and its partner sites are holding for you says otherwise.

It also looks awful and if every site ends up migrating there my brain will melt from the bland sameness that threatens my screen. The explosion of the web is more than partly to do with the fact that individuals have become the creators – the publishers. Instead of doing this individually through their own HTML skills, or via blogs or micro sites, we’re facing the Borg. Star Trek fan or not, do you really want to join the Borg?

Regardless of shelving your existing content and only publishing on Facebook, there’s a real possibility that Facebook becomes the portal to the web. You can vote by liking items all over the web but there will be a covert element to this because data and consumer habits, along with profiling, is pure fertiliser to the advertiser.

You’ll also stay logged in and even though you go off and surf elsewhere, because you’re logged in, all your habits and actions are registered. Google are extremely clever with their AdSense but Facebook threatens to become so clued in as to make AdSense look like an abacus versus a scientific calculator.

Virtual currency, micro money, Facebook Connect, store fronts, adverts, gaming and the ever growing social graph (The Open Graph as Facebook call it) etc, etc mean Facebook is THE force to be reckoned with online.

A crucial argument from the protesters is that the pure web is open. Facebook are closed and – arguably – they stand to gain more by remaining closed. Come behind our walled garden, fertilise our product by increasing your interaction, and growing the whole ecosystem, and we’ll cash in from your data. Incidentally it’s the same data that we keep changing our privacy policy on.

Some would say it’s giving the web over to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO. My problem isn’t necessarily with Zuckerberg’s leadership; the moneymen will be sure to right that ship. My problem is the possibility of it becoming the de facto site on the Internet.

Facebook has an amazing product. It’s staggering in size and hugely successful. If you’d built something 1,000th the size then you could pat yourself on the back for a monumental achievement. But if the populous web migrates there, I for one will be calling on Captain Kirk to save the day and defeat the Borg.

Tags: , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply