We’re still just one evolutionary step above slimey mould
Friendster was shit, mySpace is shit and Bebo took the idea of mySpace and made it a better looking version of shit. Yet all of these had and still have massive userbases. If it were a country, MySpace would be the 11th largest country in the world. Despite an awful interface, lack of proper search and good ways of connecting with people, mySpace is making News Corp a fortune from advertising alone. I think people forget the key fact that people like to connect and want to connect. This is why Friendster did well, why Bebo is doing well and why mySpace is such a colossus even when they still can’t seem to get the simple things right. One thing they did get right, though is the inter-networking options. It’s like life itself, even in the most hostile environments, there’s life. Social networking life is still that slimey mould where life began, it is a long way off being the most evolved entity.
The New Kid on the Block isn’t so different.
Now Facebook is the boy wonder and in fairness it’s an improvement over all the rest but it is still just an iteration on existing sites. Slime 1.5 or whatever. For years people have been saying how to make the ideal social networking application and Facebook has adopted some of these suggestions but it is far from rocket science. It’s common sense really but they still haven’t made it as easy as possible to network.
Facebook the honeytrap
Facebook to me is a honey trap for pageviews. You get emails to say someone has written on your wall but not what they have written, so you go to the site and read and click and click again. You get an email when someone adds you as a friend. Now you need to add them AND spend time describing how you know them. Facebook widgets are fantastic and again are just a way of getting you to stick around. The news feed type wall showing you that your friends have changed their status message, telling you they have added photos is a fantastic honey trap for voyeurs. Facebook is artificially inflating page views in order for a good IPO or for a gullible Microsoft to buy it so it can send ads to the people who spend so much time there and then 12-24 months later they are the owner of a dying community and thinking about buying the next big thing. How many times has this happened to AOL, Mirosoft and Yahoo! ?
Because it is their nature
All those that are hyping Facebook such as Scoble do that for all the next big things and will with time, move on to something else. That is their nature and the cyclical nature of the social media environment they are part of. Some people might not realise that you need to keep up your energy reserves for the next journey to the next big thing and that using them all up and concentrating everything on this latest killer app will wear you out more.
It’s a nice contact list but it’s locked in
I’m using Facebook like a cheap form of blog aggregator. I much prefer reading blogs but Facebook allows me to see a list of friends, colleagues and associates and what they are saying and doing (to a small degree). An interactive, media rich and social contact book but one that I can’t export. The more you know about someone, the more you can trust them and work with them. This makes good business sense.
Business people using Facebook
Right now it seems to be cool for business people to set up profiles on Facebook and link with other business people as well as friends and relations. In terms of making contacts with people and learning more about people, it’s great and much better than LinkedIn but when it comes to business relationships, I really don’t want to be turned into a Zombie by someone or be poked by someone or play whatever games people want me to play that exist on their profile. There’s a absolutely fantastic business social networking site inside in the Facebook jungle and it is screaming to get out and rid itself of all the other crap floating about.
Would you bet your house on a horse race? What about your business?
Would I stop using other sites though and making contacts through these other sites? Not a chance. It is nothing short of moronic to fully trust a site that is not making money and currently just runs on the goodwill of it’s backers. Moving all your digital interactions to such a space when you cannot easily export your data or regularly synch it is a short-sighted move and one which will actually impair proper networking. Would you turn down potential business deals because you pledge your soul just to Facebook? Being on Facebook-only means you will.
Two immediate things to make Facebook a proper business tool
Facebook can do at least two things to fix that. One: They can first create a business filter option to cut out all the shiny shiny bells and whistles, a filterwhich will also just provide on first view, a LinkedIn type look where it has your college experience, business experience and what kind of networking and business you want and all the rest is hidden away though accessible. We can look at your cat pics another time, ta very much.
Two: They can also provide a way of taking all messages from people so they can be imported into GMail or Outlook and that would also include some kind of export to VCard option so you can import this into your own traditional enterprise communications system.
Yes, every business should join Facebook
Every single business that wants to do business with online citizens should get themselves a Facebook, like they should get a Bebo and should get a mySpace. Stick company details up on it. Link with people. Import your blog into Facebook, create widgets if needs be, have the Meebo widget on the profile too so people can message you. My own blog is now on my Facebook profile and I have Meebo too on it. If people aren’t coming to my website and are staying on Facebook then I want that audience to read my blog, so I bring it to them. Likewise, if they don’t want to message me on my blog, they can do so on my Facebook. There’s a massive, talkative and excited audience on Facebook now and it is a market businesses should make themselves accessible to but as I keep saying, realise that this excitable audience will be somewhere else in six months and you’ll need to be ready for that but in return you might reap business benefits.