When I first plopped myself onto the Internet in 1992 it was a very different place. This was the pre-browser, pre-WWW era. If there was anything commercial on the web I didn’t see it. Besides, the web (for me) was totally text based and running to my computer at either 300 or 1,200 baud (I can’t remember at the moment).
Things have changed! The Internet is full of ads and commercialism. Some companies, Google for instance, managed to find a way to make ads more valuable by making them contextual. Few find Google’s ads objectionable (though they’re often weirdly out-of-context)
Lets talk about Facebook. It’s relationship with ads is very different.
Modeled on Harvard’s actual physical “you can hold it in your hands” Facebook, it has become the leading social networking site on the web. They claim 350 million active users over the last 30 days! I can believe it.
Running the site must be expensive, because even with all the ads there are also commercially sponsored apps. I have railed about apps and their misleading come-ons in the past.
Either I’ve clicked enough buttons to silence most of them or their number is diminishing. Maybe their days are numbered?
Still, Facebook is too ripe with customers for businesses to stay away. Three of my last four friend requests were from businesses! That’s against Facebook’s TOS, but just wrong as a matter of common decency.
One woman (recently friended and now unfriended) sent an unsolicited invitation to her company’s wine tasting. I hit ignore (I’m a non-drinker) but was still spammed this morning by her ALL CAPS Facebook email with the details.
“[T]rusted environment.” That’s the operative phrase. That’s why I find this whole rush toward businesses wanting to be my friend smarmy. They want to take advantage of that trusted environment, which they’ve done… to the detriment of trust!
There is a place for business on Facebook. There are fan sites and other ways to communicate with customers. I am part of one. I am a member of others. But it’s my choice and I don’t use the subterfuge of friending someone to accomplish my commercial goals.
Facebook has in many ways become a pain-in-the-ass. There are many good parts. I like that I can see photos and hear stories from my friends (whether close friends or just Facebook friends). I don’t want to be hustled. We are approaching the tipping point.
If not careful Facebook will find, as MySpace has found, friendship is fleeting.