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Facebook’s Mobile Crisis

Great piece on CNET from Molly Wood that calls attention to Facebook’s great weakness on mobile.  Interesting and growing identification of Zuckerberg and Facebook as the last of the great web/desktop plays. Very tough to transition to that next great thing.

Microsoft never got it right with Internet

Google never got it right with Social Networks  (setting aside of course the strength of YouTube)

From here on out it’s mobile or bust.

Will they get there through acquisition? If history is any indication the answer is no.  The public pressure to deliver will force the company to pay too much attention to the existing business and not develop aggressively enough against mobile.

On the other hand, they did say no to GM and all the other marketers who’ve asked them to expand what’s possible on the platform so perhaps they have a shot.  A long shot for sure but a shot nonetheless.


The Web is Dead (Zuck told me so)

Great post from Dan Lyons on The Daily Beast / Newsweek about the Facebook Instagram purchase.

In the piece Lyons makes the rather obvious point that these mobile devices are turning out to be pretty popular.  So much so that Zuckerberg realized his Desktop Internet system will die if it doesn’t get mobile tout de suite.

We may not like Facebook as a company as much anymore but  this was a smart acquisition in the Andy Grove, “Only The Paranoid Survive” kind of way.  He may turn out to be more Jobs-like than the rest of the desktop-CEOs.

John Stewart, Obama and Your Social Voice

John Stewart recently skewered the Obama team for overly friendly, overly “social-media”-voice emails.  Not only do we agree with the sentiment expressed here about these emails but want to echo that point about voice and content for all kinds of other brands in the social space.

In the first phase of social it was ok to treat all your communication with that same community-manager “up with people” voice.  Asking people their opinions on every single thing you post because you believe it will jack up the engagement numbers, or talking to communities in overly personal language and tone.  Why not.  Heck, people were downright thrilled to hear from a company so you could get away with just about anything.  But come on enough, please.

Let’s get those social voices aligned a bit more with the brand.  That community manager voice is as grating as the Obama “Hey” subject line or our personal favorite (or least favorite):  “Let’s have dinner”


Over the last several months several of the multinational holding companies that I follow on Facebook have wished me a great weekend and even asked me what my plans are.  This includes General Motors as seen here:

Now I don’t want to pick on GM too much since my father, sister, and several generations of family have all worked for GM and I worked with Chevy a couple of times but please stop wishing me a good weekend.

There are a number of things I would like to exchange information about with my M.N.H.C. (multi-national holding company) friends and weekend plans aren’t among them.  I did a quick audit of GM’s posts and for the most part they’re great:  info about fuel efficiency across the GM brands and employee contributions within and outside the company all seem to fall within a sensible voice for the company on Facebook.

Hoping they and the rest of the M.N.H.C.’s ditch the faux friendlies and stick to the content we find valuable.
 If you have a quota of posts you’re supposed to make and you find yourself on Friday without something to say then consider silence the better part of noisy valor.

Good Morning!

The Social Mouse-Story That Squeaked

The recent news that Facebook hired Burson-Marsteller to smear Google shocked me about  as much as Bin Laden turning up in Pakistan. I mean isn’t this Google deal kind of the same thing that led to the founding of Facebook?

Then:  Zuckerberg got mad at his ex-girlfriend and slammed her online.

Now: Zuckerberg gets mad at Google and decides to slam her online.

I just found it to be kind of a yawn of a story.  I think we’re supposed to be outraged that the leader of social media seems to be violating at least the spirit of the new world order in social marketing but come on.

Zuckerberg isn’t the little brother of Sergey and Larry, the “do no evil” crew.  He’s much more like Gates (pre-Melinda) and Ballmer, or Larry Ellison.  I can understand a variety of reactions to this story but surprised or shocked or outraged just feels naive.

Who’s Got Next?

In the beginning there was America Online and there were chatrooms and websites and it was good. Everyone was sending “electronic mail” which was nice and then they were sending “e-mail” which was even better but then we started sending “email”, and well, that was the absolute BEST.


Napster had a decent run there for a while there, didn’t it? But Napster of course ruined everything, by convincing people that they could have something they love, something they need, for free. And now anytime we have to pay a red cent for ANYTHING digital we are up in arms. But alas it was too good to last and Napster never really figured out a way to make it as a legit business.



Which brings us to The Book Face. Originally conceived as a way to digitally remove people’s faces and preserve them in book form, it was soon re-strategized as the world’s largest storehouse of 80s haircut photos.


In digital terms Facebook actually grew pretty slowly. Unlike Napster you heard about Facebook before you were allowed to have it. And this forbidden fruit vibe made it irresistible. Pretty soon you were using it for everything you used to use electronic mail/e-mail/email for — pictures of your kids, long-lost videos of that cool band you used to like, your cat’s super-cute fall wardrobe, you name it — you aint e’ing it you’re F’ing it.


But lately doesn’t it maybe kinda feel like we’re at a “what’s next?” phase? Maybe it’s the privacy stuff, maybe it’s Diaspora, maybe it’s natural/digital selection, maybe it’s all (or none) of the above.


Speaking of Diaspora, the open-source for the Facebook alternative is now available. Is this the FB-killer? Could be. The screenshots look awfully familiar but sometimes that’s the way it is with digital innovation. Zuckerberg even called Diaspora a “cool idea”.


I could end way wrong on this but Diaspora feels like a band-aid. It’s an open-source patched-up version of something everyone already has, which is possibly something everyone will flock to. But not for long.  I feel like the next move will be something with mobile at its core. Like some sort of Facebook/Foursquare/Twitter/Pandora mashup, built FOR mobile (rather than a mobile version of an existing dealie).


Marketers like to tell their clients to spend $ on Facebook in large part because that’s where their audience is. This is also true with individuals. Sure we all have outlier holdout friends but they’ll buy the Farmville soon enough.


But by the time they do will the party be over? Clearly there’s been a sea change at Facebook, and that Zuckerberg fella has decided that it’s as fun and challenging to figure out how to monetize the thing as it was to create and nurture it. Fine. It’s his baby. And hey, he had a pretty good run.


Don’t Blame the Tool

I would like to start off by acknowledging that yes, this is the 2nd post in a row borne of a New Yorker article. Does this mean I am bucking for a job as a (somehow, miraculously) worse-haircutted Gladwell? Nah.

I’ll paste the link to Malcolm Gladwell’s latest below. He essentially takes Facebook and Twitter to task for being lousy at fueling (the? a? actual?) revolution. It’s a good (if long) read, if for no other reason than the interesting summary of how the Greensboro lunch-counter boycott was hatched, executed, and spread around.

His contention is that Facebook is a wonderful tool for leveraging “weak ties” to, say, spread the word about some general cause or issue. But that when it comes down to something in serious need of concrete action Facebook is the proverbial knife at the gunfight.

My impulse was to jump to FB’s defense (yeah Zuckerberg, you can thank me later). But I don’t think Mr. Gladwell is entirely off-base. However I will offer that just because Facebook HASN’T been used in this way doesn’t mean it COULDN’T.

Just because I only use my sledgehammer to crack lobster doesn’t mean it couldn’t also be used to knock down walls. You don’t shake your fist at American Telephone & Telegraph for the conversation you overhear on the bus about what Mr. Whiskers has been doing all afternoon.

Is there evidence of an instance where FB was used to organize/promote/initiate a protest and it failed? Not that I know of. The problem (if there is one) lies in the lack of an event. There has been no test of FB in this arena.

And the only case-specific examples Mr. Gladwell provides are apple/orange occurrences where the Facebook efforts actually worked. Is he saying that because FB has worked in “weak ties” scenarios it couldn’t work in others? Isn’t this a bit like saying Derek Jeter couldn’t possibly be good at soccer because he’s good at baseball?

Facebook and Twitter are just part of the issue here. Not only was there no internet in 1960, there were also no cell phones or 24-hour cable news stations. If an initiative was to succeed, it depended upon old-fashioned close ties and interaction in large part because that’s all there was. You can certainly make the case that having close ties to the movement was the main thing that kept it alive but by the same token being able to reach sheer numbers of like-minded people could have provided both energy and bolster.

I’m kind of flinging arrows at the hedge here (vague Gladwell hair crack #2?), and I haven’t the research to entirely back up all this yapping. But grinding an axe at Facebook and Twitter for not saving the goll-darn whales?

Don’t blame the tools. Blame the workers.


[[  On a very-likely-only-interesting-to-me note, the article refers to AT&T as “A. T. & T”. I assume this is a mistake – ? The Greensboro students attended North Carolina A. & T., so I’m guessing the copyediting process was muddled due to several mentions of the college.  ]]