I was a fan of Facebook but no longer. I believed that Facebook, which was started by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, was the premier social network for finding high school and college students. And, for my republican political clients at Connell Donatelli, I would recommend if a client was interested in targeting the 18-25 year olds. In fact, Jackie H of our agency thought Facebook was a better suggestions than MySpace. Now, I couldn't care less.
What changed? Was it the fact that they didn't build in the proper privacy controls into their new Newsfeeds and Mini Feeds? (BTW - for more analysis on this snafu, follow this link over to a ClickZ article.)No. Is it they are in some $200 million advertising arrangement with Microsoft? Ho hum no. What started this slide is the fact they are now opening up registration to people as long as you agree to be part of a region. Who cares now? Probably nobody. Anyone can register and then meet people in one of their 500 regions. There is nothing unique about this.
What makes it different than a MySpace now? One could argue (and I will) that MySpace is more powerful because it isn't limited by region. Currently Facebook has 9.5 million registered users so clearly they are trying to grow that in order to meet whatever financial carrots are in their Microsoft deal.
If it wasn't bad enough diluting the base of users even further, I watched this interview over at Bambi Francisco's blog with Zuckerberg. I have to be blunt. Bambi was more than nice to him and really could have hammered him. He seemed completely lost. Here's what I took away from the interview:
- Facebook wants people to understand the world around them (great and you should try and solve world hunger next)
- Harvard is the only example worth giving when it comes to understanding college students
- They are not authenticating which region you are in (Zuckerberg didn't answer Bambi's question)
- They don't view MySpace or YouTube as competitors (look you are now MySpace's competitor now that you are diluting your base)
- Wouldn't confirm whether they are profitable or not. Bambi says that he told her that in past interviews
Diluting the base without any decent authentication should be the last straw for advertisers. Why? One of the great things about the internet is the ability to find people across multiple websites (audience duplication). What made Facebook so good was the focus on college and high school student, but no more. I can't see why their product is better than MySpace. Their audience will slowly erode and I can see a time in the near future when their base revolts.
It looks to me like instead of trying to help people understand their world or at least the world around Harvard, Facebook is selling out for the Microsoft dollar. Dilute your base and your product beyond Zuckerberg's original one trick pony and you have nothing more than a cheaply produced high school yearbook instead of the Facebook students wanted. The relaxed criteria is tantamount to Facebook jumping the shark.