Today’s blog not only contains an insight into Facebook’s evolving role in the lives of Australians, it also offers a cautionary tale in how to read mass media coverage on all things ‘social media’.
You could be mistaken for interpreting this headline in yesterday’s Digital Life section of the Sydney Morning Herald, It’s complicated: why our Facebook romance is fading, as a pronouncement of the end of Facebook.
As it turns out, that interpretation would be a long way from the truth, with the writer, Laura Demasi, commenting in the article itself that, ‘this is probably not the beginning of the end of Facebook. Not by a long shot.’
Funny how headline writers get this wrong, but that is a story for another day.
In essence, the article likens our connection to Facebook as a romance but as most adults know, all romances fade, the real question is whether they last long enough to nurture the seeds of an enduring relationship.
As you reflect on this article, you might start questioning your own use of Facebook as a marketing channel. It is healthy to evaluate your marketing efforts routinely, so let’s look more closely at what this article brings to light.
What new findings have prompted this article?
The author, Laura Demasi, is research director at Ipsos Social Research, and is delving into the social impact of digital media as part of her postgraduate thesis at Sydney University.
The headline figure in this article is that a survey of 753 Australian Facebook users found that three in ten feel they spend too much time on the site, while in the 18 to 29 age group that number grows to six in ten.
It also refers to people ‘considering opting out’ of Facebook altogether.
But I would like to argue there is a big difference between considering doing something and actually doing it.
How many times have you considered cutting down on sugar or alcohol or some other habit, only to find yourself still in the same routine?
The hook that keeps 11,000,000 Australians involved in Facebook is the social connection value; too many people would miss out on too many social invitations if they left the ‘community’.
The article does go on to make this point and it is one I have been making in my workshops and keynote presentations since 2008: Facebook and similar social networks are really just the next wave of communication tools, super telephones, if you like.
Just as it would be impossible for most of us to ditch the telephone, so it is becoming harder and harder for us (the people in your marketplace) to ditch tools like Facebook that help us manage our various social networks.
As Facebook ekes its way into our smartphones, tablets, computers, televisions, even refrigerators, it will become increasingly hard to give up that convenient access to friends, families, favourite businesses and events.
Even Hugh MacKay has documented this gravitational pull of Facebook among Baby Boomers, in his book, Ten things that make us tick.
You’re doing it wrong
If anything, this research calls on all of us using social networks as part of our marketing efforts to focus more than ever on bringing value to the community and veering away from tricks and gimmicks.
If you are looking for a guide on how to do Facebook badly, in a way that will hasten the exit of your potential customers, visit the Condescending Corporate Brand Facebook Page.
It showcases real life examples of the empty content that some marketers pump through Facebook, surely fueling the fires of discontent among users.
As long as our efforts remain bound to our business objectives and outcomes , and we work hard to make sure our offerings are valuable, Facebook at the other social networks may well remain valuable marketing channels for years to come.