Facebook likes to say that it is free and always will be. But if we continue to conduct our business on it, what will it eventually end up costing us?
Remember when we were kids and if our reasoning for wanting to do something was because everyone else was doing it, our parents would say ‘If everyone was jumping off a cliff would you want to do that too?’
This saying has been popping into my mind lately as facebook continues to take over the world of the internet.
I’m not saying facebook is a bad thing. It’s a wonderful creation and allows us a means of communicating on the web in a fresh new way. You can find old friends and family you’ve lost track of and rekindle your relationships and connections. Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard wunderkind who founded facebook, deserves props for his ingenuity.
It was launched and is described as a social media site, and it lives up to that title grandly. But it seems you can’t go on any business website anymore without them asking you to ‘like’ them on facebook, and I’m wondering why a social media site is encouraging businesses to use it as well? Does General Electric really need a facebook page? What’s the point? So we can keep up with the kooky antics of their zany CEO?
Call me paranoid (don’t even get me started on the Kennedy assassination) but doesn’t it seem like facebook is positioning itself to become the main, if not one and only, means of social and business communication on the internet?
From a fiscal point, I understand why they would want that to become the reality. With 845 million users and climbing, facebook is fast becoming the king of ad revenue. $4.27 billion was the projected number for 2011.
But if everyone is doing all of their business on facebook, what is going to happen to the traffic on individual websites? And as a result, website business in general?
The best thing about the internet is that for a minimal investment, anyone with a great idea can launch their own business. You pay $12 for a domain name, build a website and off you go. You send the link to your family and friends, and if they like it they do the same. On and on it goes, and if the web gods are smiling on you it’s possible you may have launched a career for yourself. Once your website is generating buzz, it’s time to start talking to investors. You put together a lovely little pitch, polish your shoes, take your business clothes out of mothballs and take a meeting with some nice person who has lots of money they want to invest in your business.
And one of the first questions they’re going to ask you is how much traffic your site generates.
The commerce of it is fairly simple; for any website to be a success it needs traffic. What traffic means is the number of ‘hits’ you get each day. ‘Hits’ are countable visits to your site. Lots of hits means lots of eyeballs are looking at your site every day. If you have lots of eyeballs looking at your site every day, you’re more likely to get sponsors who want to advertise on your site. Because those eyeballs will now be looking at their ads every time they come to your site, and they know the more their company images are burned into our brains, the more likely we are to reach for their product when we’re making purchasing decisions.
So, if we’re now not only doing our socializing on facebook, but our business communications as well, what does that mean for our potential to garner ad revenue, and consequently grow our own businesses?
Because of the company I’ve founded, I am connected to other women from all over the world who have similar interests. Most of them have also founded website companies. We all beg each other to like us on facebook like we’re a bunch of junior high students on the first day of school.
I see these posts all the time; “We’re up to 20,000 likes on facebook! Thank you so much!” 20,000 likes on facebook? That sounds awesome. It sounds like your business is doing great, but what does it really mean? For you and your business, probably nothing, but for Mr. Zuckerberg and his pals, it means they can literally start stuffing their mattresses with money.
Due to my interest in women’s causes, I’m also friends on facebook with hundreds of women who have websites that support women. They’re all wonderful websites, I’m sure. I can’t tell you with conviction, because I’ve never seen most of them. You know why? Because I don’t have to. I catch up with them every day on facebook. They post their latest positive message or update, but unless there’s an article with a link back to their site, chances are I won’t be visiting it. Which begs the question; what will happen to individual websites if we continue this facebook feeding frenzy? Ad sponsors won’t be advertising on individual websites because everyone will be advertising on facebook. The money flows where the people go. If we continue at this pace we may be looking at a day in the future when facebook has become so dominant that individual websites will have gone the way of the mom and pop grocery store. Before you roll your eyes, let’s take a moment to recall the past twelve years of our country’s political history and all agree that the phrase ‘that could never happen’ can now be eliminated from our vocabulary.
We should be wise enough by now to know that competition among business benefits the consumer, and a monopoly benefits only the business. If we continue jumping on this facebook bandwagon, we may one day find ourselves at its mercy.
It’s actually already begun. With the exception of about 17 people, everyone hates the new timeline facebook is forcing on us. It doesn’t matter if you want it. They’ve decided that for whatever reason, it’s better for us ( translate; them) and we have no say in the matter. You wake up one day and your page has been taken over by the timeline, without your permission.
This is a relatively minor issue, but imagine the kind of power they’ll have if they manage to make facebook our sole means of communication on the web, and how little say we’ll have over any of it.
I’m not begrudging facebook their success. It’s a wonderful example of what’s possible when you have a great idea and follow it through. I also understand and appreciate that a business needs to expand and make money. Most everyone wants to earn a good living, support their family and live an enjoyable life. But it seems in this day and age the only goal worth having is total market domination. It’s not enough to have a great product or a successful business, you have to become the biggest, the most powerful, and push everything to the breaking point. It’s power for the sake of power. It doesn’t matter if it’s good for all, it only matters if it’s good for you.
Facebook’s stock is going public soon, and when it does Mark Zuckerberg’s estimated worth will be $28.4 billion dollars. He is 27 years old. What exactly is the goal here? Is he hoping that when he finally gets to the pearly gates God pats him on the back and says, “Good job, kid. You’re the first. You actually do have more money than me.”
Chances are that the people filling their pockets with money over at facebook are never going to stop and say, ‘You know…what we’re doing isn’t really good for the economic growth as a whole. It’s actually only benefitting us and the people associated with us. In the end, it’s the average American that’s going to get screwed. Let’s stop leading these people around like sheep.’
If these last several years have taught us anything, it should have taught us that we need to use our brains and pay attention to what’s happening in our country. We allowed ourselves to become people who jumped on every bandwagon that went by because we were so afraid of being left out of the parade, without ever questioning the wisdom of the direction the parade was heading in. Just because a float is pretty and popular and everyone tells us it’s the place to be, doesn’t mean we should hop on.
We are intelligent people, and it’s time we started thinking for ourselves again. When everyone starts telling you you’re prehistoric if you don’t have a facebook page for your business, sit and think about the validity of that statement. If it will benefit your business, great, get one. But if your site is dependent on traffic, and having a facebook page will diminish that, why would you want to do business on facebook?
Facebook is a wonderful creation that has allowed the world to be connected in a marvelous and unique way. But it seems to be more and more apparent that the goal for facebook is to become our exclusive means of internet communication for pleasure and business. It also seems we are following this lead without question or forethought, and it’s time we stepped back and started asking some questions regarding this latest craze and how it will affect us all in the long run.
I don’t have the answers. I’m just full of questions. And I think it’s important that we all start asking questions before we ‘like’ ourselves right out of business.