Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Facebook fatigue

Posted on | February 7, 2008 | No Comments

The Register has a sobering piece on declining interest (apparently) in social-networking. There’s a lot at stake here. Everyone is making book that engaging users in social networks is the advertising Holy Grail they’ve been waiting for. To date, it hasn’t taken off and the user numbers don’t bode well (particularly if the U.S. economy continues to go south this year).
I jumped onto Facebook last year, thinking it was much better social tool than LinkedIn. And it was. But I lost interest pretty fast. Ads started popping up and everyone was trying to convince me to download some FB app to while away my copious free time. I couldn’t really exploit Facebook for what I wanted: to flog this blog. My community started to revolve more and more around this baby right here. Meanwhile LinkedIn perked up a little, although it still has a ways to go in its social utility.
OK. So I’m an old guy. For my generation, email was the revelation. We still communicate that way primarily. I know very few people my age who hang on social networking sites. I started one a couple of weeks ago (an S.F. Giants site) and targeted a few guys my age and the engagement is, um, light to say the least.
Well, we’re not social’s target audience, right? It’s 18-34 year olds. Maybe. My daughter was a big LiveJournal maven for years. She hasn’t posted in months. Too busy. Maybe she’s an outlier.
The more worrisome notion for anyone trying to make money online is this: there’s always something around the bend. We know it. And if it interests us, we’ll jump. If some of our friends jumped first, maybe we’ll jump faster.
The next social wave will be mobile, but the interface remains a problem. And the very fact that mobile is about communications and being social might limit how new businesses can exploit it.

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No Responses to “Facebook fatigue”

  1. Lou Covey
    February 8th, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

    msclnoIt’s the same problem of Old Media.

    The purpose of advertising is to SUPPORT the medium of communication. But the market sees the purpose as a sales tool primarily. Sales is the byproduct of advertising, not the product. The product should be an active conversation.

    Advertising is only an interruption in the media, not the center. And advertising is now interrupting the conversation so much that people are walking away from the marketplace.

  2. wretch
    February 8th, 2008 @ 7:14 pm

    Were you on the net in 1994? Remember how exciting it was to talk to an expanding array of people in chat rooms? And after a while you stopped staying up until 1am talking about stuff with your new friends in some small town in New Hampshire or Idaho?

    Something new pops up, and it generates excitement. And then the shine wears off, and soon it just starts sucking up time. So far, that seems to hold true for kids in Generations X, Y and Z.

    Over-advertising just kills whatever it is faster.

  3. Mike Spataro
    February 9th, 2008 @ 4:58 pm

    B-Man – don’t fret about declining numbers in big social networks like Facebook. That’s expected and really doesn’t have much of an impact on what social networking is all about. To quote Mr. Jeff Jarvis who has it right – we don’t need any more social networks because the “Internet is the social network.” The trend is very much up. Brands are concerned about how to get involved and that has little to do with the traffic figures on Facebook and MySpace.

  4. Loring Wirbel
    February 9th, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

    I agree with Mike, but in a negative sense as well, a la Bruce Springsteen’s “57 Channels and Nothing On.” I can always find plenty of interesting blogs to read, but real-time communication alternatives carry a lot of boring baggage with them. If social networks are all various forms of herpes, then the Internet as a social network is just chlamydia of the planet. So what does that make fiber-optic cable cuts? We won’t go there.

  5. wretch
    February 10th, 2008 @ 6:51 pm

    Uhhh…, vasectomies…?

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