At the beginning of the year, I did a meme I had been tagged for by Kim for predictions for the new year. One of the predictions I made was the following:
“I think Facebook will start emerging as a prime social networking choice for the over twenty crowd. I always hated Myspace but I’m a fanatical Facebook user.
People have asked me why I like it so much better… better features, a lack of ability to put horrid graphics and machine freezing midis on the pages and it seems a bit more secure and networking friendly to me. Plus, photo capabilities, event capabilities – for various reasons, Facebook is a social networking site I actually use. I think it’s the Myspace for the twenty-thirty generation and expect to see it pick up steam.”
So, I was pretty intrigued to find a blog entry over at Search Engine Watch called Facebook on the Rise. The article mentioned their recent deal with Jobster and also made mention of the Hitwise report that showed Facebook visits were up by 16%.
I’ve been asked a lot behind the scenes about my addiction to Facebook. I’m not a social networking or media junkie. I’ve used Digg a handful of times in my life. I’d never been near Stumbleupon until the first time I was “hit” by them. I’ve never bookmarked a single thing at Delicious. I use mybloglog for the statistics features.
I have profiles at Orkut, Yahoo 360 and MySpace, but all have pretty much been abandoned after I secured my spot. The only exception is LinkedIn, where I keep my profile very up to date and am an avid user of making connections there because it makes it so easy to keep contact information updated.
But nothing has come close to my use of Facebook. I made mention of a few of the reasons I liked Facebook in my prediction. But, I decided to go a little more in depth, both as an avid user and as a watching member of the Internet marketing industry.
Six reasons Facebook impresses me as a user…
1. A uniform design: I’m all for freedom of expression, but I don’t want your favorite song blaring over my speakers as I attempt to find the stop button and I don’t want to squint as I try and read pink text on a black background.
I also don’t have to click links in fear that the next profile page I hit may cause my computer to freeze and need a reboot. After all, I’m supposed to be working on the other monitor. Comments are separated in a clear fashion and you also can’t randomly post your ugly ass blinking pictures in my comment area.
2. Tagging rules: I can tag people in pictures, notes, etc. which rocks. If you have a friend on Facebook, you can easily view all pictures of them across the network, whether or not you’re friends with the person who posted it if they have tagged your friend in the photo, note or whatever.
This allows you to see all the things of the person you’re connected to, even if you’re not connected to the person posting it. When someone is tagged by another user, what they were tagged in shows on the tagged persons homepage, making it easy to keep up with friends.
3. Easy blog imports: You can import your blog with three easy steps that don’t require knowledge of flash or special scripting. Click notes, then import and then enter your feed address and hit enter. Make sure it looks right and then click confirm. Poof.
Blog imported and all your friends will see each blog post as a note when you make it, with links back to the original post. Comments from the blog are not imported, but Facebook has their own function for allowing users to comment on your note (blog post) directly on Facebook. And since Facebook isn’t accessible without being logged in, you don’t have any duplicate content worries.
4. Non obnoxious advertising: I’ve never seen a banner stretched across the top of my profile blinking at 300 miles per hour. The advertising is very integrated into the design, as well as tastefully integrated into your “welcome page”.
5. Photo storing capabilities that rivals Flickr pro accounts. You can actually segment your pictures into albums and do bulk uploads.
Additionally, people can comment on pictures, you can tag other Facebook users that appear in your pictures and people on your friends list can tag people in your photos for you as well (though it is subject to you approving the tags). Note: photos blurred as I’m only aiming to show the album tagging features, not expose my friends without permission to the world.
If you’ve been tagged in a photo where you don’t look your best? Simply untag yourself. It prevents the photo from showing on your “photos of you tagged by other people” list and not even the person who posts the picture can replace the tag once you’ve opted to have it removed. The picture will still show in the person who posted it’s album, but it gets much less exposure when it isn’t tagged.
6. Better privacy: You don’t have the option of exposing your profile page to the general public on Facebook. As a matter of fact, you can’t view a single thing on Facebook without being logged in. If you’re not in a person’s friends list, you can’t see anything about them aside from a very small profile picture and options to contact them within the system.
You can also create limited profiles that allow you to specify exactly what items a “limited user” can see and assign certain people to only be able to view these limited profiles.
Have co-workers and friends on Facebook? You can control what each person on your friends list is able to see. Friends can see photos of you’re last drunken bender out on the town and your co-workers can be limited to your basic profile information and only be able to view the album of your last company gathering.
Three reasons I’m watching Facebook from an Internet marketing perspective…
1. According to Alexa, MySpace is the number six site on the net while Facebook is the number thirty four site on the net. Both are damn impressive numbers but MySpace had a huge head start (about three years before Facebook opened its doors to the general public). I think Facebook is gaining ground at an impressive speed. It should be interesting to watch it and see if it can narrow the gap over the next year.
2. The new relationship with Jobster is a smart one. Facebook has a high population of college students and high school students – the ultimate score for a headhunter website. It makes sense as a mass monetization effort. Granted, competitors have these same types of relationships, but I think the demographics at Facebook are a tighter fit in regards to this type of partnership.
As of October, people age twenty five and older comprised 68 percent of the MySpace user base whereas “more than one-third (34 percent) of visitors to Facebook.com are 18-24 years old, approximately three times the representation of that age segment in the general Internet population” (source).
3. Facebook is showing very small signs that they may be on to understanding what most social networking sites have failed at miserably up to this point: monetization beyond big partnerships. Ryan May made an interesting observation in his recent local search interview:
“I also see social-networking sites such as Facebook beginning to source some of the data they are collecting through their applications to show more local-specific information to the general public through their site. For example, I’m finding that businesses are using Facebook to promote discounts and special events such as “free cover nights” at local bars and clubs.”
If Facebook can take this a step further, and on other levels besides geographical, they might have a shot of bringing in a better ROI than any social networking site before them.
They collect a ton of information via my profile – they simply need to use it to offer me relevant advertising…
— If I’m listed as single, I might be interested in dating ads.
— If I list my political views definitively, during election time show me political ads.
— If I list a website in my profile, I may be interested in hosting advertisements or the like.
— If I list activities and interests, advertise products I’d use to do them to me.
— If I list favorite music, books or movies, use something like Amazon to find products I’d also like based on my listed likes and show them to me.
— If I’m an underclassman in college in Guelph, Canada, I’m a prime target for sites that offer to find me student housing in Guelph or college bookstores I can order from online. Same with any other location.
— If I list no college information and am over a certain age, ads for online degrees might make sense for me.
— If I list being in a specific job, it gives advertisers the ability to target very specific education services. If I have a bachelor’s degree in a certain field, I may be interested in seeing ads about getting my masters degree in that same field online.
— If I’m listed as unemployed, maybe a resume creation service or job sites will catch my interest.
— If I live in a local area, show me advertisements for local businesses, bars or events that may be of interest to me (as Ryan mentioned he was starting to see).
There are a ton of ways to classify me and serve me relevant and targeted advertising. I’m not a random surfer. I’m not an unknown user. I’m giving you everything but my social security number and blood type when I sign up. Monetize me!
Facebook will be an interesting company to watch over the next year. I’d love to see them get the capabilities to post videos and audio files – an area they currently lack in forcing me over to YouTube to upload videos that I only want to show to a small network of friends.
I’d also like to see them expand the carrier list that can handle Facebook Mobile Texts (I use T-Mobile, which isn’t in their list of supported carriers and I’ll be damned if Rand, Chris or the image stealing whore should be able to poke me from their cell phones and I can’t return the favor).
I’m sure not everyone will love Facebook. I know Trose seems to dislike the site for some reason (and I invite him to do a post on why, since he’s never fully explained his reasons to me). But, if you’re using social networking and you haven’t given Facebook a try, I recommend you do.
Three blog entries in three days? Ok, it’s time to put… the… keyboard…down.