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Falling flat on its Face(book)

June 28, 2011

Secret Archives of the Vatican

Vince has been writing about using social media to market the new Secret Archives of the Vatican album, Barbary Lion. Vince and I use the internet as our primary marketing tool for our music (and the music we release on BDR Dancefloor) so it’s only natural we also consider future trends in how social-media will develop.

I’ve just read this interesting article about how Facebook‘s European and North American growth pattern is beginning to mirror that of MySpace (RIP). I’m not a fan of Facebook; I think its business model, whilst pure genius, is disgusting. In my opinion Facebook feeds you gossip and the opportunity to snoop around in people’s lives in return for you looking at adverts perfectly targeted to you because you have already given every piece of personal information they asked for. Hypocritically (or cynically), I do use Facebook, but now I use it purely to develop/promote my own interests.

In the most recent edition of the Harvard Business Review (HBR, July-August 2011) you can read about how mainstream capitalists are finally processing how crowd-sourcing can revolutionise a regular corporation’s workforce. HBR‘s article comes under the banner of Hyperspecialization (I’m choosing to use their American spelling) and those of us who have been hanging around online and interested in the media for a decent amount of time will know that Hyperspecialized would be a good word to describe the place to where the media and specifically the music industry is also headed.

What if social-networking were to follow suit in a big way? There are already services such as Ning to let you create your own (usually) interest led social networks. Services such as Blellow allow you to network with people who have similar work pattern to you (web-workers). Looking to more popular environments, what are MMPOGs if not a type of specialised social network? To be slightly more relevant, Jo Rowling has just announced Pottermore, a social network/online book club for fans of the Harry Potter series of books (and I guess films, although I am not sure she mentions them in the initial video). She’s giving away 1,000,000 beta invites which I am sure will be snapped up quickly and will certainly (due to the obsessive nature of Harry Potter fans like me) mean that 1,000,000 folks are going to be spending much less time on Facebook. I’ve also begun to use a site called Flowd which is a music focused social network which allows me to interact with artists and receive promotional freebies just like MySpace used to, but without the badly coded website, spam, and more spam. I like using new social networks so Flowd is great for me as it scratches my musical itches and gives me that online pioneer buzz! When Pottermore launches that will be another draw away from Facebook, which may mean less time pimping my music and record label but more time relaxing and dreaming of actually being a wizard.

What’s also good, from my point of view, about these specialised social networks is that I am not tempted to post pictures of my family and friends onto them. They have a reason to exist and that gives me a framework to interact within. Nobody on Flowd wants to see pictures of my Mum at a barbeque and I imagine on Pottermore I will only find people who only want to talk about Horcruxes and Hogwarts and not look at photos of my dog. This means like I feel (and if nothing else that’s something) like I am regaining some control over my privacy.

This specialisation is yet to happen but I’m sure I can see people’s internet use moving this way. Some would argue that this might happen on sites like Facebook, using them as a platform but I think people will, naturally, get bored and starting looking for something new. The stats from the BBC, no me, show that this will start in Europe and North America and spread back through the world.

I’m hopeful that the global internet population will not be fooled into giving all of their personal information to just one company (in return for bite-sized pieces of gossip about their ‘friends’) again. Sadly it remains a huge possibility that we (Europeans and North Americans) will move en-masse to an online service that will simply replace Facebook.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2011 11:27 am

    So I already know one of you disagrees, how?

  2. June 28, 2011 11:30 am

    I was at a training course last week, when the trainer told me (in all seriousness) that the United Nations were using Facebook as a communication tool. “You can’t be serious!” we all chimed in, but he was. He even went on to say when he was working on a UN project, he was “poked” personally by Ban Ki Moon (oerr missus!).

    How an world agency can even begin to conceive facebook is a sensible way to carry on communication is beyond me. We’ve already has the case in the UK when the Juror made friends with the Defendent. Can you imagine if Obama and Osama were found out to be BFFs on FB?

    So maybe this is Facebook’s plan? Information domination? Embed yourself in the corporate world? Google already spies on our mail, and Facebook goes through our photos and tags them for us. Perhaps Microsoft will start going through my rubbish and Apple will start tracking my car?

    All these start-up ideas are great. I had a ning account (until they started charging), but lets face it – they’re only there to be bought up by the big boys. You may think you’re running away from Facebook and Google, but they’ll find where you hang out and all your bases will be theirs (that’s a gamer’s reference my son taught me – I’m down wid the kids, innit!).

    Right, where was I? Oh yes…..podcast world domination…….

  3. The Ginger Ninja permalink*
    June 28, 2011 11:41 am

    Your right. Google, Facebook, M$ and Apple run the show now, and governments panders to their whims.

    I don’t think international companies are going to loose out, I just think that times are a changing.

    All your base are belong to us

  4. June 28, 2011 12:19 pm

    Sorry but I love Facebook! My social life mostly happens there – I keep in touch with relatives and friends way better than I ever have. I talk to people more than I ever have. I have achieved more with my music via Facebook than I ever could any other way. And don’t be deceived by alleged changes in Facebook usage patterns – I read an interesting and slightly scary article a couple of years back where somene had analysed FB’s long-term strategy and correctly predicted the changes FB has made since. Can’t remember who by, unfortunately. FB has a long-term plan and it is going just fine.

    I don’t know what could be better than FB. They’re already working on reducing spam, particularly app spam. As for being targeted with advertising – if I’m going to be advertised at anyway, I’d rather it was for things I’m interested in than not. What’s the down side?

    MySpace was always awkward to use and very badly coded. FB generally works very well and is mostly easy to use. As long as it continues to be useful to people (unlike MySpace after Murdoch killed it), FB will remain popular.

    I use Flowd but still have no idea what Flowd is actually for.

  5. June 28, 2011 1:17 pm

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m stil riding the facebook wave, but you’ve got to remember it’s a fake wave in a theme park, not the Big Sur in California. It may change one day and we’ll have to look elsewhere for our thrills.

  6. Louis permalink
    June 28, 2011 1:37 pm

    If Facebook dies then it dies but until then I’ve spent more time hanging out with real people in person as a direct result of it than I was before I got on there. Most of the things you describe as being bad about Facebook are actually things that I really like about it and having been badly bitten on specialised social networks (when I was a lad they were called forums) then I’m not sure that I want to go back to that.

  7. June 28, 2011 1:50 pm

    You’re right about forums. Oh the flame-wars were horrible. Facebook is a little more civilized, alought those young folks of today do whinge on about being f-raped quite a lot!

  8. June 28, 2011 2:35 pm

    Louis – nobody wants to go back to forums – but there is a whole generation of people out there who haven’t had that experience – so as people who rely on the Internet to market our wares/z we need to be on the ball rearding where trends are moving – or we will end up like those people who are still using Myspace.

    Pete – you are right, sadly – I think the Digirati are already looking for the new fix – the next thing to tickle their fancy, Google haven’t nailed Social Media yet – but I don’t think they are close as they hold on too tight (ie you need a gmail account to access there services – at the moment what they offer is technically good – but not fun) – Microsoft are due a good break, maybe their time is coming back around.

    Vince – I can’t disagree with what you saying – but its weird to see you defend a corporation as if you were a shareholder – I guess in someways you are like one (ie you, and therefore we, invest a lot of time into facebook).

    I think this move towards specialised or niche social networking (Niche Netowrking sounds like a nice buzz-phrase) will continue, but obviously there needs to be some new and exciting tech behind it to make the ‘tastemakers’ make the move and then we may see a large move of people away from the more boring generic social netowrking sites.

    Facebook wont die overnight, but it wont stay cool forever. Something new will appear, I’ve probbaly got the specifics wrong but something will change.

  9. June 29, 2011 10:13 am

    Facebook’s success was kind of down to its lack of specialisation – there were tons of social networks around before that but they were for specific groups… and even as others branched out into trying to be for everyone, somehow facebook managed to be the one which seemed like it wasn’t just for Geeks. But maybe now that fb has done the groundwork, people will be more open to joining more specialised networks.
    Either way I’m sure facebook will be as irrelevant as myspace within 5 years – i’m excited by the potential rise of decentralised social networking like – but more excited, as always, by the whatever developments will *actually* come about and make all our predictions look hopelessly naive….

  10. June 29, 2011 10:30 am

    diaspora is interesting – like WordPress in many ways – especially as it’s a platform and a social network on its own (like and — I haven’t seen when they are up to lately – but they need to bring something other than privacy controls to the table in order to take off

    I think you are right about Facebook and specialised networks – and I guess its the point I was making to Louis – Facebook opened up the online-networking market to non-geeks but now, I think, the non-geeks will get geeky

    thanks for commenting Andy

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