Tag Archives: facebook

Facebook, Revisited

Yes, Facebook, I’m single. I get it. I’m not sure how the “Saturday Night Church” got into my ad stream, but that’s a thing as well.

It’s been three weeks since I joined the unstoppable social-juggernaut that is Facebook. Since then, the stock is down nearly 10%. Causal? Probably not, but I can’t be certain. Coincidence? Not entirely.

Although I was inspired to join Facebook by the ever-changing life events of my moderately large extended family, I’ve had an interest in their stock since the IPO. I remember considering calling my broker when the $38 price point was announced. It seemed like a good deal at the time. Now that it’s trading for less than half of the IPO price, I suppose it’s a good thing apathy stayed my hand.

But who could stop Facebook? It seems like social networking will always be around. Barring the possibility that German-style social modesty becomes a fad in America, we’ll always be driven to show-off, or peep into virtual windows (or both). I only mention “German-style social modesty” because a friend mentioned that his friends and family in Germany found it odd and “borderline offensive” to provide such a detailed account of one’s life.

The closest competitor to Facebook is Linkedin. While they’re also a social network, Linkedin targets a slightly different audience, for a wholly different purpose. Then, there’s Twitter. While they don’t compete in the same realm as Facebook, it seems like Twitter may have an advantage: transience. Where Facebook relies on person-to-person mutual connections (“friends” in both an exact, and yet very loose sense of the word), Twitter uses “followers.” Followers aren’t necessarily “friends” in any sense of the word. You can follow someone you don’t even know on Twitter – no mutual acceptance required. While it opens the door to some obvious cyberstalking issues, it has the advantage of being quick and almost anonymous. Anonymity is, after all, one of the cornerstones of the internet. The method of sharing is also simple: 140 characters to your followers. There’s no timeline, tagging, or liking to worry about. Just don’t try to use it for private messaging. It’s not a good idea.

The bottom line is that Twitter brings in almost double the ad revenue that Facebook does. Does this mean I’ll be investing in Twitter if/when they announce an IPO? Probably not. Not yet, at least. While I like their core concept, I still feel like the experience is missing something. Maybe it’s the lack of a rich social web that shows up when you have a two-way connection. Or maybe it’s because Twitter doesn’t know I’m single, so I feel offended when it doesn’t try to hook me up with hundreds of singles in my area. Who knows?

Facebook Update

Facebook has ads. That’s their big revenue source, and that’s fine with me. I was in college during the “dot com bubble.” I entered the workforce a few years after the bubble burst. At a very basic level, I know how these things work. Free services are only “free” so long as somebody is getting paid. On the internet, that’s done via advertising.

At first, I was overwhelmed by the interface. I couldn’t pick out an ad from anything else in my “timeline.” Maybe there weren’t ads for the first few hours of my experience. After all, if I “had no friends,” and my timeline was empty, was I really a person? Could I be targeted with ads? If I got a random smattering of ads, would I be offended, and stop using the service? All serious questions for an ad partner.

Well, I’ve got ads now. Here’s the first set I noticed. Obviously, picking “single” as my status and noting that I was “looking for women” triggered the first ad for a dating app. That seems relevant, although I didn’t join Facebook for that purpose. It’s not that I wouldn’t keep my options open; the odds of anything fruitful coming from a Facebook relationship seem lower than low. It’ll be interesting to see long it takes them to figure out that I’m not interested – or if they’ll be able to figure it out at all.

Next up: Tequila. Good guess given my age and gender. Not good when you consider that it’s at the bottom of my list of favorite liquors. Looking at the rest of my data, I’m a little surprised they even suggested tequila. Maybe a number of my friends liked it at one point or another? Maybe people who showed interested in my schools or employer overwhelmingly liked tequila. Maybe I’m some kind of weird non-tequila-drinking minority among my peers. Either way, I guess if I were to go out and “like” some bourbons, I’m sure that would remove the ad entirely.

After that, two ads for games. The first one looks like a Bejeweled clone. “People like Bejeweled” is a reasonable general statement if you look at my country of origin, and primary language. The second is a racing game. Also good for males of my age range (but not interesting for me since Mario Kart 64 back in the 90’s).

Lastly, an ad for Facebook Marketplace, specifying used cars. Okay. I’ve only been “on Facebook” for a few hours. Maybe there isn’t enough data on me to generate a full set of targeted ads yet. I’ll check back in a week or so, and see what it suggests.