Why We Keep Using Facebook: The Good, Bad, and Fail

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Let’s talk for a second about what the intention of Facebook as a social network is:

  • A place to keep up with friends
  • A place to share what’s good and what’s hard in your life
  • A place to ask for support
  • A place to wish distant “friends” happy birthday
  • An advertising platform
  • A personal soapbox for politics, music, food, games, tv

If we can agree that initial reason we joined Facebook is to keep up with friends then we can see how today it’s completely failing. Sure, we keep posting updates and pictures about ourselves and we keep getting responses from the same 10 people, but when we look at it, we’ve got over 400 friends. How come so few of them interact with us on Facebook, EVER?

Maybe they’re not all lurkers. Maybe my circle of friends ARE actually posting stuff on Facebook, but Facebook is not showing them to me. Even if they are my best friends in real life, I have to go through lots of effort to see their posts. And for those people we rarely see, are they just ignoring Facebook, or are they on Facebook at least once a day like most of us? Are they hoping to stay in touch with friends and having Facebook connections with about 20 of their friends as well?

So if I’ve got 400 friends on Facebook and I post a funny question: Do you prefer wine or coffee? Pick One. And only 10 people answer, is that because only 20 people saw it, and half of those people responded? What if the entire 400 people saw it and I got a 1% response rate? That would be 40 people. That’s what used to happen. You’d put up a funny rejoinder and you got some funny responses. But Facebook doesn’t work like that any more.

There are a few things you can do to alter your Facebook friends and experience, but a lot of the problem with Facebook comes down to their advertising model. See, Facebook was built to make money. And you and me sharing funny stories and pictures doesn’t make Facebook any money. They’d really like us to click on an advertisers link, or pay to promote our great news to more of our friends. That’s right, Facebook wants us to PAY to share out news with the world. But that’s not the way it started out, right? Facebook is free, right?

Here’s what you CAN do:

  • UnLIKE and UnFriend people and brands you really don’t care about.
  • Like things that your friends post, then you will see more of that friend’s posts.
  • Visit some of your friends pages and like some of their posts. This will up their FB value on your feed.
  • And share and comment when you really like something. These are the highest honor in Facebook-dom.

Here’s what’s screwed:

  • Facebook will continue to thin the “friends” on your newsfeed in favor of “paid friends.”
  • Ads and promoted posts will make up 80% of the information on YOUR wall.
  • Friends that you want to follow will continue to not show up on your news feed.
  • The more Facebook changes things, the more they move in favor of profits and away from privacy.

I don’t love Facebook, but there’s no other platform that gives me such range and reach on a number of subjects. I use Facebook for work and for play. I obsess on Facebook. I seek out friends and raise conversations with them. I complain to Facebook about their crappy interface and crappier Ad Management software. But I can’t leave Facebook for more than a few days. I left for 99 Days a while back, and I really enjoyed the time I got back, but I also missed the pseudo connection I share with so many of you, my Facebook friends.

Let’s make a pact. I’ll keep liking your posts when I see them. When you make a great one I’ll be sure and share it to my friends. In this way I will feel closer to you even if we’re “facebook only” friends and have never met in real-life. I’ll keep being a contributor and an influencer. You just do your thing. But stop round my wall and say HI once in a while. I promise I’ll LIKE you back.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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