My Friends Don’t Use Facebook!
By Steve Lawson
“I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook.” That’s the headline of an op-ed piece in Mashable, contributed by 13-year-old Ruby Karp, who hails from New York. In her Aug. 11, 2013 post (http://mashable.com/2013/11/teens-facebook/), Ruby goes on to explain:
“Part of the reason Facebook is losing my generation’s attention is the fact that there are other networks now. When I was 10, I wasn’t old enough to have a Facebook. But a magical thing called Instagram had just come out… and our parents had no idea there was an age limit. Rapidly, all my friends got Instagrams.
“Now, when we’re old enough to get on Facebook, we don’t want it. By the time we could have Facebooks, we already were obsessed with Instagram. Facebook was just this thing all our parents seemed to have.”
Wow, that hurts! It takes me back to my childhood, when one of the cable channels just showed the time and weather. The cable company had a display window on 34th, just north of Union Street in Seattle. In that window was a clock and thermometer and a motorized camera simply panned between the two. Now that was “must-see” TV!
Facebook continues to grow. But at what price? Are marketing stragglers jumping into the now-safe Facebook waters, just as Facebook is losing its luster? Is Facebook losing its luster?
Maybe. What was great about Facebook was that you could follow everyone you had “friended” (If you don’t know what that means, you can stop reading now), and brands could interact with those who “liked” the brand. It was an awesome way to grow a brand following and for Facebook to grow their user base.
But a funny thing happened after Facebook’s disastrous IPO. They needed to make money. And they began to redesign their site and the algorithms that feed data to each individual account. That means you no longer see all of your friends’ posts on Facebook. And posts from brands are seen by only a fraction of those who follow them.
As a brand, you can guarantee that you’ll end up on the timelines of those who like you, only after pulling out your credit card. The fees are nominal, based on how many “likes” you have. But, at least on Facebook, social media is no longer FREE (or as I like to say, “free as a puppy”.), and spending money on getting your post seen makes it an ad, and we know how much people trust ads. It seems we just can’t win.
Ruby went on to write, “When I was younger, my mom had a Facebook. I would always go on it. I would take quizzes, play games, etc. As the years went on, I always wanted a Facebook I could call my own. But once I got it, everything started changing.
There’s too much going on. The change from the old Facebook to the Timeline was very all of a sudden. Look at something like Twitter, where it’s four buttons—people like the ‘simple’ design better.”
Is Ruby a 13-year-old, or is she like Ramtha, only this time channeling the late, great Steve Jobs? Simplicity is something he pushed for in everything Apple did. Facebook has totally lost that, and I humbly agree with Ruby, and I must add, Apple products have lost some of their simplicity as well.
Yet Ruby saved her best analysis for last, stating, “It (Facebook) also became a huge marketing mouthpiece. Facebook takes your interests based on what you’ve “liked” and put ads on your feed. No offense, but when I’m looking through my News Feed I don’t really care about Pantene’s new product.”
And her most scathing indictment? “In the end, Facebook has been trying too hard. Teens hate it when people try too hard; it pushes them away. It’s like if my mom told me not to do something—I immediately need to do it. When she forces something on me, I really don’t want to do it.”
What’s the future of social media? That remains to be seen. But I suggest that every marketer who uses the many social media channels in their mix really listen to Ruby.
Are you trying too hard? Are you pushing your audience away? Bombarding them with sales messages? Furthering your own agenda rather than engaging your followers?
Remember, it’s all about them, not about you.
Steve Lawson is the president of Friendly Voice, which helps companies large and small engage customers through social and traditional media. He can be reached at friendlyvoice.com or 425-649-9114.