John

Six Months after Facebook. Am I Bored Yet?

In Online on December 26, 2007 at 4:09 am

Courtesy of Björn Rixman

So, it’s been about six months or more since I’ve hopped onto the Facebook wagon, and after giving it back-to-back press about it in KLue’s Hype and 101, I gotta say that Lance Ulanoff’s prediction for 2008 (I love all this year-end doomsayer columns… they’re so controversial for the sake of being controversial.) that Facebook will “blow up” next year isn’t all that incendiary as it sounds like. “I’ve gone off Facebook,” said Sandeep over a few beers last night (no, he wasn’t toasted), and the increasing voice of dissent is increasing. I’ve started to go off Facebook too over the past month, and there are days when I all I do is just clear the invites to add Vampires, Zombies, Jetman, and other various rubbish apps. I like to keep things simple.

John Dvorak, in his usual cynicism, wrote about how Facebook and Social Networking in general stinks

What has been overlooked in the entire social-networking scheme is that at its core, it’s not social networking but marketing. In fact, the entire MySpace scene is devoted mostly to selling music and keeping people up-to-date with their fav indie band. Sometimes events, such as a rave or a house party, can be announced on MySpace, although the real winner is still the indie band. Most parties are done with IM lists.

I was thinking about this the other day on the way to the Junkyard sale in Bangsar last weekend, and while I do agree that Social Networking, while starting off as a cool way of keeping in touch with friends, can eventually become a marketing tool for events, parties, merchandise, etc. Hell, marketing is in its genes.

But there’s a difference here–there’s good, innovative marketing going on with Facebook, mostly done with the early adopters (the late adopters, like some PR and Marketing peeps, are lame. More on that later). Take the Junkyard sale, for instance–that’s just one example of how a bunch of fashion-passionate people are getting together as a collective to push really cool and unique stuff.

The box of shoez

lapsap2.jpg

I bought a pair of Lapsap shoes as an Xmas prezzie (not telling whose prezzie it is), and I thought, you know, if it wasn’t for facebook/myspace, something like this wouldn’t happen so successfully. Social networking is simply an advanced form of word-of-mouth marketing, which I’m sure what was going through the minds of Zuckerberg & Co. when devising their advertising scheme that blew up in their face because of the terrible opt-out clause.

WILD, LapSap, Palate Palette, and not to forget the many, many indie t-shirt designers like KurasaRaksaksa, Devotee, and I heart KL, are just a few examples of how young people are using social networking in the right way–and it makes me feel really proud of the get-go attitude of the Gen-Y peeps and how they’re utilizing the tools at hand. They succeed mainly because they see social networking at its core reason–to communicate to friends about what’s happening and cool, staking their reputation on every posting/plug that they make. Web 2.0 (I hate that term, but it’s gotta be used just to make things simpler) is all about community and honesty, and if you don’t believe in what you plug, you’ll be easily weeded out. And this is what older bandwagon hoppers don’t understand about Social Networking.

At a recent PR party, I remember the host of the evening kept plugging FB as this great tool for networking and communication, but I couldn’t help but be skeptical about what he sees in FB. He’s somewhere in his 40s or 50s, and while it’s great to see him harping on the miracle of social networking, I think that he–and the older generation of ‘net users, those too well-entrenched in PR and Marketing from earlier decades–see Social Networking as another channel on which to push client’s stories and products. And that’s where it fails.

You can spot them a mile away–these are the people who bring up the Facebook group that no one comments on, the myspace page updated once a month, the blog that just pushes their products/services and “associated partners you might be interested in”. BORING. LAME. DUGG DOWN, etc. There needs to be a mentality shift from “publicising an event/ product” to “letting friends know about something they might like (because you like it too)”. Problem is, of course, is that not all clients want to market things that are cool and relevant to web users. That’s the challenge facing old marketers. New marketers, like I’ve pointed out before, seemed have stumbled onto the secret on how to grab attention–or at least, that’s the impression I get.

But back to the crux: Will FB survive? Unlike Ulanoff’s headliner, Facebook won’t implode, but I don’t agree with Jeff Jarvis’s assertion that it’s worth USD15 Billion. It will be survived by first early adopters of it, those who see FB as a way to communicate themselves to friends, as a way of pointing to other funny and cool shit because they think it’s cool too. And there’s one more thing–social networking is driven by FUN. It shouldn’t feel like work, and if it does, you’re gonna be one of those who drop off the social networking within the next year. I suspect Lance Ulanoff will be among them.

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  1. john, i found this on guardian online.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/dec/24/facebook.socialnetworking

    guardian’s got some other interesting articles on facebook too. wuuu

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