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May 15, 2010Facebook isn’t cool any more

I briefly touched on Facebook privacy issues in my last post, mentioning that I’d stripped all information out of my profile in response to my growing concerns about Facebook’s constant push to share more information publicly.

Facebook isn't cool any moreThere are a lot of so-called “social media experts” out there. The truth is there is no such thing. The majority of “social media experts” are simply people with regularly updated twitter feeds, a lot of friends on facebook they don’t really know, constantly bombarding you with requests to “like” their public page, which if you do will lead to further bombardment in an attempt to monetize your engagement with them. They’re not experts. They’re idiots.

Social media works when it delivers a service. It works when it connects people together. People are generally less interested in “connecting with brands” than they are with their friends. Advertisers are interested in connecting people with brands. There’s a difference.

I wrote some time ago that the drive towards monetizing social media was “killing the goose that lays the golden egg“. And it seems as if my prediction is starting to come true. Prominent people are deleting their facebook pages. Privacy groups and data protection watchdogs are expressing extreme concern about the way people’s privacy concerns are being ignored.

Jason Calacanis sums it up simply:

Facebook is officially “out,” as in uncool, amongst partners, parents and pundits all coming to the realization that Zuckerberg and his company are–simply put–not trustworthy.

The key to social media is trust.

When trust breaks down, people move away from your brand. Calacanis links to dozens of news articles this week all expressing a lack of trust with Facebook, citing privacy concerns. Calacanis says Facebook have spent too much time looking at how much they can potentially earn from exploiting users’ data and not enough time thinking about how much they could lose if they go down this path.

People don’t like being a target demographic.

People don’t like “hard sell” tactics. When you bombard me with requests to “like” your company, it’s as annoying as being bombarded with cold calls trying to get me to buy stuff I don’t want.

Social media is beginning to feel less like “a way to connect with friends and family” and more like a way for advertisers to target you, learn more about you, and use that information to sell to you — in other words, manipulate you.

That might not be the language of a social media “expert” – but it’s certainly what a lot of ordinary people think. When I read articles using language such as “Facebook Pages switched from “Become a Fan” to “Like” in order to lower the bar for users to engage and connect with brands” it becomes glaringly obvious that social media is becoming a hard sell — and will increasingly be rejected by users.

People don’t want to “connect with brands.” They want to connect with people. Social media is only successful when it engages individuals, groups and communities at this level.

The golden rule of advertising:

Don’t treat people like idiots.

Anyone who does is destined to fail.

Stop looking for ways to monetize social media.

Start looking for ways to genuinely connect with your customers.

Or you, too, will be destined to fail.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, May 15th, 2010 at 8:08 pm and is filed under Blog, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 comments

  1. In all of the articles I’ve read on this topic, yours has actually inspired me to consider deleting my facebook account. Sure, others have brought he thought to my mind, but you’ve actually connected with me in such a way to encourage the act as beneficial to my productivity on the web.

    Gives me a new direction to move with my media projects.

    Thanks

  2. al says:

    Thank you!

    I just think we need to start looking at social media laterally — as a partnership, not as a sales tool. I’m glad other people feel that way too.

    I’ve got a feeling it’s a battle we’ll win in the end.

  3. […] can be found. But it is often the results of that push which drive consumers away. As the venerable Al Allday notes, “People don’t like being a target […]

  4. Andy says:

    I absolutely agree.

  5. Je t'aime says:

    Great post and I agree. I think what businesses don’t understand is that it is called ‘social’ for a reason. Social media should be about conversations WITH your customers in a genuine way, not just spamming them and taking advantage of the relationship by being a ‘toxic friend’.

    Give them worthwhile information, ask them questions, listen to their complaints and understand who your customers are and how you can serve them better. Otherwise they will pretty soon be hitting the ‘unlike’ button.

  6. […] can be found. But it is often the results of that push which drive consumers away. As the venerable Al Allday notes, “People don’t like being a target […]

  7. In all of the articles I’ve read on this topic, yours has actually inspired me to consider deleting my facebook account. Sure, others have brought he thought to my mind, but you’ve actually connected with me in such a way to encourage the act as beneficial to my productivity on the web. Gives me a new direction to move with my media projects. Thanks

  8. Nona Mills says:

    […] can be found. But it is often the results of that push which drive consumers away. As the venerable Al Allday notes, “People don’t like being a target […]

  9. al says:

    I lived without facebook for almost a year before re-opening my account last month when an old flame wanted to add me. To borrow from the Godfather, “Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in!”

    It’s funny, though. I didn’t miss it at all. But I suppose in this day and age it’s as crazy as trying to live without a mobile phone — despite the fact we were all doing very well without them until a decade ago.

    Ah well. I’ve still never “liked” anything or added an application. And I’ve no intention of starting.

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