Monday, September 17, 2007


I sure hope that this post doesn't come back to one day haunt me from a business perspective.

So, I've been on Facebook for about two months or so now. I have a small, but diverse group of friends. I've added a few widgets to my account, I sign on once or twice a day -- and I have to say, I'm not really getting what all the fuss is about. From my perspective, it's definitely not the most "action oriented" site. I mean I recognize the purpose it serves from a social network standpoint and I understand that I probably skew a bit too far to the right of its target demographic (age wise that is, not politically) but thus far it's just not that ... exciting (for lack of a better word).

I will fully confess that I'm likely not "getting it" and I probably need to expand my personal network a bit more to really see value, but until then maybe someone else out there can offer their perspective.

Don't get me wrong, it's not all all as if I don't like the site -- I do -- it's just that I'm not seeing massive utility in it either professionally (I recognize that is not its purpose) or personally.

Anyone under 30 out there that can help me out?


df said...

I love facebook! Well, I only just logged on after reading your post and typed in your name, but I love the first guy who comes up under Howard Solomon! You guys should start a band or something.

Jeff said...

The number of friends makes a huge difference as does the willingness to move more of your “world” onto the site.

The real value is that once you have a large network of friends, the amount of information that you share amongst each other is exponentially increased versus current forms of communication. With the forms of communication we are used to (predominantly email) you have to proactively communicate with people/friends on a case-by-case basis. With a social networking approach, as you present more about yourself on the site your friends and acquaintances are automatically brought into the “conversation”.

In a social networking world, the mere act of posting your ideas, activities, and other tidbits of your life (pictures, favorite movies and books, events you are attending, favorite links, etc.) automatically engages every one of your friends and visa-versa. As more people enter your social network and actively share information about themselves in their own pages, and you do the same, the amount of information you are sharing with each other without having to really even think about it expands exponentially. And, in theory, you value from learning more from your social network than you ever would if you relied on them to proactively communicate to you.

For example, you post that you are reading a book and really like it. Now, every one of your friends knows that you are reading that book and can even see what you think about it. Your social network +benefits from your experiences+ without you having to proactively notify them and without it being intrusive (like filling up an inbox). Without Facebook (or another form of social networking) that information would never have been shared unless you thought of sending a few friends a message (which you would rarely do). And if you did share it you most likely would have only included a few people. Same with events, pictures, favorite links, etc. You are interacting with a group and benefiting from it, without having to work hard at it.

So, the key is the size of your network of friends *and* the willingness of everyone to suspend use of other tools and use the social networking site to essentially become a tapestry of everything they are doing. When that happens (as with the younger generations who grew up connected to social networking sites with all their friends) it becomes a very engaging and useful tool to stay connected with your friends.

For us “older” folks, it takes a lot more work to get used to trusting this approach, abandoning other forms of communications, and getting our other friends to join in. So, the issue is not our age that makes it less interesting. It is the amount of additional momentum we need to generate amongst our network (friends) before it *becomes* interesting that is the hurdle. But, IMO it is surmountable.

Jeff said...

BTW, I am sure you will notice that the value prop in terms of creating broader, more effective, and non-intrusive group communications is essentially the same as what Parlano has done with our group chat solution for business. And, one reason why Microsoft is acquiring us!

Anonymous said...

It's called...BEING SINGLE. I too am on it and, after being invited to join about 5 times and perusing it for about 20 minutes, I became keenly aware that a married 40-year old is not a "hot candidate" for this site. Ah well. Val