Spending today in London, I picked up a copy of the Evening Standard for the way home and was naturally drawn to an article by Rosamund Urwin about how Facebook is running short of users.
The article, Facebook may find itself short of friends by Rosamund Urwin, is here.
I disagree with several of Rosamund’s assertions. As a journalist focusing on opinion as opposed to reporting news, not that I an belittling the former, I can understand how the advent of Social Media could be a threat to her career, though I don’t think this is what has prompted her scathing review of Facebook’s current state. There are people like me popping up all over the place with our amateur writing and conjecture and sometimes content consumers will chose to digest the opinions of their friends as opposed to professional journalists. Rosamund shows a resentment towards feeling compelled to use Social Media to promote her writing, which apparently is ‘now expected of journalists,’ though this should help to increase her readership, if she is confident in the quality of her writing. Social Media largely helps to bring good, extraordinary and exceptional content to an audience that wants it.
Furthermore, many small businesses have been able to garner a more loyal following, carry out low cost research and promote themselves through targeted advertising using Social Media,
Changing the way we use Social Networks
The way people are using Social Networks is indeed changing. It’s great the Rosamund took the time to carry out a brief Social Media audit and remove dubious content. Yes, Facebook doesn’t make it especially user-friendly to hid content, but I very much doubt that is completely deleted anyway and therefore could still be used or as part of the Graph Search recently announced by Facebook, potentially.
Profile cleansing is indicative of the changing way in which people are using Social Media. I’ve noted myself that my friends don’t share personal information now as much as links to news articles and content. A lot more Social bookmarking is happening on Facebook.
Fewer people are divulging their relationship status, some are even culling employer information and more people are locking down visibility of their information from both friends and non-friends by exerting their privacy setting. I’ve made special mention of ‘among my peer group’ because I’m really not sure if the change in Facebook behaviour is based on the aging of my friends. I still hear stories of people having relationship meltdowns for all to see in this public forum, which, while entertaining for others, is not a healthy state to be in, surely?
Facebook’s desperate need to monetise it’s platform (they have miserable shareholders now) may well deter people from the network. The dwindling Facebook population is giving way to smaller, more niche networks. People do still want to share somewhere; brag, ratify their actions, gossi,. but we’ve had it so good for so long in terms of being offered a rather fantastic platform for free (in financial terms), that now we’re getting annoyed by the advertising that’s occurring. I don’t have the answer to a successful, lucrative social network business model, but won’t the new, smaller networks need to earn a living too?
Google have been utilising our data for years for profit, but they provide a service that we clearly find of use and value, plus I’m not completely sure that people understand the extent to which Google makes use of the information we plug in to it, though it does seem to retain our anonymity. When it comes to videos, get plays from TheMarketingheaven.com to better reach.
It’ll be interesting to see how Facebook’s Graph Search manifests itself (we don’t have it in the UK yet) and how the platform develops. As a Social Media Manager, it has been suggested to me today that following Edgerank algorithm changes, Digital Marketers should now be regarding Facebook as a paid media channel primarily, over a earned media channel as businesses ploughing more money in to Facebook’s paid promotion functionality will experience higher levels of reach. Slightly turns the ‘advocacy strengthens visibility’ concept on it’s head, doesn’t it?
Anyway, Rosamund’s gripes are more along the lines of clearing the information we share on Facebook. I suppose none of us knew where Facebook was heading when we published a lot of our content and now with all the changes they should make it easier to remove that content. But this is the internet and maybe we should all be a little more careful before we hit ‘post.’