July 1, 2009 Phil

Facebook, is it really changing the world?

Facebook currently has over 200 million user profiles logged in their database and have the attention of its users for over 5 billion minutes per day. Many of these users load their life stories into their Facebook profiles and as time goes on their public dairy becomes a reflection of who they are in the eyes of their friends, peers, employers and future spouses. Does it matter that they are sharng their lives online with the rest of the world or that Facebook essentially owns their diary? Hell yeah!

In a previous blog post back in January 2009 I wrote about my first enlistment to Pod Camp and how the presenter (i.e. Joel Kelly) took a topic and turned it into a conversation. His topic was of course Facebook because he knew the sensitivity of personal privacy. It inevitably generates endless conversation and often countless opinions. In fact they’re so endless that the conversation was still going on when I attended my next social media event in June 2009 on a 3rd Wednesday at the Foggy Goggle!!

Here’s the thing, Facebook is changing how people relate to one another. It’s impacting the initial communication process. We now look to it for credibility checks before we hire people, friend or date them. Is it wrong that we judge people based on their Facebook profile? Hell No! Sure by setting up a profile on Facebook people are essentially making it easier for us to measure their mustard, but what most people don’t realize is this isn’t new.

When my digits were in the twenties I used my social networks to check people out. I didn’t get to see digital pictures of them in action, but I had a good idea of what it looked like when someone told me they’re a “party’r” or they’re in with the wrong crowd. In the immoral words of KAOS’s Seigfried, “We have our ways!”. Now there’s a guy who never had an issue with reputation!

Later in life as an employer I had ways of finding out who was the right fit and despite what might be considered “ethical”, you still knew things about people that factored into your decisions.

So what’s the big deal? Why are so many social media gurus debating the effect of Facebook on personal reputation? It’s the ease of accessibility and the fact that you don’t own your own information. It’s because once you put it out there it’s not going to go away. Until this application came along reputations could fad with age sort like my hairline.

I laugh to myself when I hear 20 year olds in these discussions proclaim they don’t care about what other people think or how they are judged by Facebook or any other method of assessment. They are who they are and if you don’t like it you can lump it! The truth is they don’t care at this moment, all things staying the same. The reality is things change and I have no doubt that over time their opinion on this issue will change as well. The old adage “Do as I say not as a do” will very quickly become “Do as I say not as I did on Facebook”.

Where I think Facebook will have the biggest impact in the future is digital marketing. Advertising channels are steadily becoming more and more cluttered with messages. People are becoming immuned to the noise. They no longer see things unless they are completely bizarre or outrageous. Marketers are going to great lengths to reach people. In order to reduce the noise we need to do a better job of reaching the audience when they are ready to hear the message. We need to know how they are feeling, what they are doing, where they are at and historically what they have been know to do in the past. We need to understand consumer behaviour so that we can direct the message to them when they are most likely to hear it.
In 2002 I went to see a Tom Cruise movie that really got me thinking about the future of advertising. Today I can see the start of what Speilberg envisioned would happen in this movie. Facebook is profiling the potential audience. iPhones are geolocating their position on the globe. It seems only natural that we as marketers start to talk directly to our target when they are most likely to want to hear from us. If I were Zuckerberg I’d be looking hard at a revenue model that leveraged his 200 million plus profiles in this manner.

Comment (1)

  1. “Do as I say not as I did on Facebook”

    I’m going to make an effort to work that into at least one conversation today.

    With all of our complex means of communication– words, writing, media, body language, digital networking, etc. can we still really say that we understand one another?

    Regardless of who I meet or the means I use to communicate with them, there are very few people who actually end up understanding exactly what I’m getting at. And at best, all I can do is assume that they understand me. I think it is part of our nature to feel that other people really understand us, even when the barriers are huge. The mind has some fascinating (and very scary) means of accomplishing this without our intervention or our consent. This illusion serves to form physical and social groups to better propagate our ideas and in a broader sense, ourselves.

    We would all be wise to take Phil’s advice to heart and realize that all of our communication depends entirely on the person who is listening.

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