Friday, October 15, 2010

MEDIAPOST: Facebook; This Is Your Chance To Make Me Look Stupid

I feel like I keep picking on Facebook, but its such a big target these days! To be fair though, this is an open shot for Facebook to make me look stupid.

I read through a bunch of the articles and press coverage for last week’s big announcements regarding Facebook Groups and the new ability to port my personal data to other platforms, but somewhere along the way I missed the point. I don’t see why journalists had to drive down or fly over or go visit the Facebook offices for a series of seemingly “ho-hum” announcements.

When press people are asked to go see Apple, they get cool new gadgets announced, or new operating systems. When Google calls the press to their home, it’s for new products being released or new technology that consumers can get excited over. For Facebook to call a meeting and tell the world they’re playing nice with others and allowing users to create Groups (which feels like Lists but open to others) just doesn’t seem to carry that much weight in my book. Maybe I’m wrong (it has happened before).

I understand that companies can now create more targeted groups of users to select and share messaging with. It’s the equivalent of a Facebook VIP badge for a brand, but they can do that with their CRM efforts already, so this doesn’t feel mind-blowingly awesome to me.

It feels like Facebook is making an attempt to not be considered the “Rainman” of its day (for all of you familiar with the old school publishing platform that AOL used back when it was a different beast than the open platform we know and love today). It doesn’t want to be a closed network, though it does want to be the hub of all networks. It’s their version of open-sourcing your data, with your permission of course. If they had tried to make this announcement one year ago the privacy and permission component may have been different but they’ve learned their lessons and have integrated that knowledge here.

So once again I ask, what’s the big deal? Facebook is too large to be surpassed by a competitor at this point, barring some very unfortunate outage that takes them offline for a month. A worm-type virus that scares all the users away from their daily news feed rituals could have an impact, but otherwise it would be hard to say that a user porting their data over to some other social platform is much of a threat, because Facebook is still the central location of that data and once it’s been ported, it can become out-dated. That data has to maintain a component of recency for it to be truly valuable, and recency comes from the amount of daily traffic that Facebook generates for each of its gazillions of users.

Of course, the one thing missing in this discussion is Microsoft. Is Microsoft going to get involved in this data-porting scenario? Microsoft has been eerily quiet over the last 12 months, since making their investment in Facebook. What are they planning to do with that data and are Microsoft and Facebook finding ways to get more integrated into the PC desktop? Could Apple be far behind at trying to find ways to integrate Facebook directly into their operating system as well? I’m pretty sure we won’t see any Android/Facebook integration any time soon, but once again I could be wrong!

So this is the chance for Facebook to make me look stupid and prove me wrong. Tell me what is so important about this news and provide me with a real world, average-Joe example of what this benefit is to me, the user.

I’m also really looking forward to your responses – maybe you can prove me wrong and help me figure out what’s the big deal?

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