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Facebook- the dream and the reality

May 31, 2012

Writing about Facebook isn’t exactly the freshest thing to do right now, but I’ve been searching for someone who can some up the challenge the brand faces in the neatest possible way.

It’s taken me some time, but I finally found it thanks to the wonderful piece written by Michael Wolff in Technology Review entitled “The Facebook Fallacy”.

Thank you Russell Davies!!

One part of the article gets to the heart of Facebook’s problem.

“If you’re inside the Facebook galaxy (a constellation that includes an ever-expanding cloud of associated ventures) there is endless chatter about a near-utopian (but often quasi-legal or demi-ethical) new medium of marketing. “If we just … if only … when we will …” goes the conversation. If, for instance, frequent-flyer programs and travel destinations actually knew when you were thinking about planning a trip. Really we know what people are thinking about—sometimes before they know! If a marketer could identify the person who has the most influence on you … If a marketer could introduce you to someone who would relay the marketer’s message … get it? No ads, just friends! My God!

But so far, the sweeping, basic, transformative, and simple way to connect buyer to seller and then get out of the way eludes Facebook.

So the social network is left in the same position as all other media companies. Instead of being inevitable and unavoidable, it has to sell the one-off virtue of its audience like every other humper on Madison Avenue.”

It makes it clear that unless Facebook can quite simply revolutionize marketing as we know it and not just capture “intent”, but monetize it as well, it’s just another media with eyeballs.

Wolff’s conclusion is that Facebook will swamp the market with ad inventory and bring rates crashing down basically a collapse in the online advertising market.

Beyond Wolff’s conclusion lies another problem for the brand which is as it tries to reach marketing nirvana and starts playing with its platform in order to find and interesting ways to monetize, it’s member base could loose interest and patience and end up moving away.

Despite the news fatigue around Facebook, it seems likely that the story is far from over and the column inches of our business press will continue to cover the trials and tribulations surrounding the companies ability to generate revenue, for sometime to come.


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