Friday, April 11, 2014

So... What are we mad at Facebook for again?

Up Front Disclaimer: Many of you will NOT like this post. That's okay and I understand but please! Let’s keep our discussion cordial. 
Thank you and have a nice day.

Once upon a time there was a young lad named Mark Zuckerberg who went to an Ivy League University where he received an extravagantly expensive education. Mr.Zuckerberg invented (some would say tweaked) a newfangled online social networking program that caught on with the college kids. Legalities, morals, ethics, and all that other stuff aside, he blazed a trail for the way 95.99% (my made up number) of people use their computers and became the youngest multimillionaire on earth, undoubtedly making his parents very proud and relieved that they wouldn’t have to sell any of their organs on the black market to pay off their son’s college loans.
The program...? Facebook.

Ah Facebook! Who can remain neutral when your name pops up in conversation as so often happens? It has been said that Facebook is like the refrigerator – we know what's in it already but still we stand before it, peering inside and hoping for something fresh and delicious to reveal itself. Facebook has usurped our vocabulary, nibbled away our free time and spawned industries and careers and conferences: Social Media Managers, Online Promotions, Facebook Fixer programs, Page Developers, Page Managers, and lidded coffee cups to name but a few. 
She who invents a spew - screen protector will make a fortune.

I like Facebook; I am not ashamed to admit it.

However, not everyone does, and that’s okay. There are enough networks out there on the interwebz for everybody to enjoy. We who are moms of teens and young adults know this, wink wink. 
But let’s just stick with Facebook for today, because I have something to say. Something of vital importance. Something that desperately needs to be said, heard and understood.
Are you still with me?
Okay, good. ‘Cos this is gonna

Facebook… that fun place where we post baby pictures and joke about our cats and shame our doggies and brag on our children and ogle beautiful shirtless people and cowboys in tight jeans and listen for gossip and news and find recipes and the newest miracle cure for splotchy complexions…?

Facebook is… A Business.

I’ll wait while you digest that. Take your time. It’s a revolutionary thought and it’s going to take some getting used to the concept.

How's that Pamela? you ask. Facebook? A business? 

Dial your minds to ten (ok,twenty-mmph for me) years ago.... You had a cute computer in your toy box and you learned how everything works watching Mr.Rogers and Sesame Street. You moved on to Pokemon and Japanese anime,then graduated to personal GameBoys and Nintendo DS and PC gaming and World of Warcraft until Wii came knocking on your door. Your MySpace page rocked Britney Spears and sparkly winged horse pictures. You got carpal tunnel from texting on your flipphone/sliderphone/smartphone and now… texting is so 2013. You take Vines and post to Tumblr. If only your college professors would do the same, because that would save you from renting and cluttering your tablet/ereader/Ipad with textbooks. Watch? Alarm clock? What are those?

So, Miss/Mr. Computer World Sophisticate…

How does the world sell you yoga pants or breakfast cereal or womens’ fiction or DragonCon tickets when you’re online all the time?

Facebook. (I know... Amazon too. But we’re sticking to Facebook for today.)

 Not so long ago SMMs (Social Media Managers) told us to Make a Facebook Page! Be a Brand! Write a blog! and Engage! Engage! Engage!

And so we did... do.
We post pictures of our fun times at conferences. We share BuzzFeed quizzes to find out your alien Princess name. We congratulate our friends on their publishing contracts and new releases. 
We wage ManWar.

We support our friends' signing appearances and Kindle rankings and blogs. We discover our friends' friends' jewelry businesses. We share our organizations' contests and conferences and parties.

We sell our products - and others' products -    ourselves.

Remember how Facebook used to post ads on the sidebar saying "Pamela Mason 'likes' Dreamland BBQ", with the subtle suggestion that you, as Pamela's friend, should 'like' Dreamland BBQ too? Now Facebook's taken off the gloves. 

It's not so subtle anymore.

Facebook has changed up the rules (for the two hundredth eleveneth time) “Say what…?! You want money to promote my post?" "My page’s organic reach is down to three, besides my own mom?” 

“Yep,” Facebook answers.  

 And in the cold light of the business world, Facebook has every right to do so because- gasp! - Facebook is a publicly held business listed on the NASDAQ and trading at $59.16 at the time of this writing.

Facebook’s shareholders want to see a return on their investment - kinda like we all hope to see a return on our kids’ college degrees. Yeah… don’t think I haven’t pitched some crazy computer program app ideas to my own sons majoring in IT. 
Crazy thought here but YOU and I can buy shares and invest in Facebook too if we want to cough up $59.16 + fees! And not only can us little people who post about puppy-pharts (yes, that was me… I mean- my dog!) own Facebook shares, but big companies, like Pillsbury, Clairol, Starbucks, Mashable, Macy’s, Dell, Microsoft…
Yes. More than likely they all own Facebook stock - lots of stock. Enough so they’re probably on  Facebook's board and calling the shots.

So… extrapolating what we have here - Facebook on the Nasdaq stock exchange, NYT Bestselling author of Lean In Sheryl Sandberg as Facebook COO, and the fact that over half of Facebook’s users are US females with 24% in the 25 - 34 age bracket, and a whopping 31.1% (!) (raising my hand here) in the 35 - 54 age bracket... *
I have to ask:
Why are we mad at Facebook for acting like any other business?
Why are we wondering why Facebook is trying to make money off of us?
Why, Fellow Women Facebook-Users, are we complaining about this?

Call me a Glass-Half-Full kinda girl, but this is what I think:

1. Money makes the world go ‘round. Women are being marketed to by the Pillsbury Doughboy via social network, and that same network wants US to pay THEM to use it for our own marketing. 
2. Ergo, We women have Power. Women who are Entrepeneurs, Authors, Bloggers and Business Owners have... say it with me...  Power!
3. Being a Brand is what all of us writers and authors MUST work our little tushies off to master, because our work is a tangible, marketable PRODUCT to sell. For money. Hopefully lots of it.
4. We will be seeing more and more ‘virtual’ marketing opportunities for selling our products, and social networks are vehicles to get started. Think Google+ Hangouts. YouTube. Vine.
         Visual * Short * Fun

5. In the next five years, women WILL rule the world.

‘Sokay, one more thing and I’ll sign off and that thing is spelled

Yes, Metadata...about YOU! That’s what Facebook shareholders are paying for. It’s what Amazon and the Jolly Green Giant wants. It’s why you have ads showing up on the sidebar of your newstream for Romance novels by... 

Every time you click a link, share a post, or “Like” somebody’s status (especially if that somebody is a Brand, like say… Martha Stewart or Nora Roberts) little nuggets of your information is sent by the tiny green diode-men inside your computer to tell Facebook's shareholders what you looked at, how long you looked at it, what time of day you looked at it, what you looked like when you looked at it....
 Wait… no, not really that last one! Did I scare ya?

Look at “IT” - whatever “IT” may be - and what happens? Amazon hits your email with something like this: “Best Selling Romance Novels on Kindle Today!” 

I dunno about you all, but I'm going to start looking at A L L of my friends' books.... 

We can outsmart Facebook, people...  
we just have to learn how to play their game. 

*(source: iStrategyLabs Jan.2014)

P.S.Did you know that technology is being tested that allows you to watch television and purchase goods off commercials WITH THE PUSH OF A BUTTON ON YOUR REMOTE?
 Now drone delivery doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore, does it?
 Think about it.


Gemma Brocato said...

Excellent post, Pamela. I've noticed the changes in Facebook and agree. It is a business and the powers that be in the ivory tower in CA have the right to treat it so. I still like Facebook and will stick with it. And I'll take your suggestion regarding metadata. That had never occurred to me. Such a simple, workable truth. Thanks for sharing.

Sherry Isaac said...

When we only use social media to be, well, social, keep in touch with our friends and family with ease, knowing those we hold closest will visit our page to check on our status, then Facebook provides an awesome free service.

That old fashioned telephone? Shove a quarter in the slot or all you get is a dial tone. The post office? Cough up a stamp or that letter goes nowhere.

Those of us starting a business, building a brand, getting a name, shouldn't be surprised that Facebook doesn't want to help us become famous out of the goodness of their little old stock portfolios. It's not like we're not accustomed to paying for services like haircuts, car washes, printing, publication, recording. Facebook is no different.

Perhaps there's a lesson here, be careful what you provide free at start-up because those initiatives build expectation you may not be able to offer long term.

Chris Bailey said...

I LIKED Pamela V. Mason on Facebook! One step at a time. . . .

Carla Swafford said...

Speaking of drones, the BIG AMAZON already has them delivering in the New York City area. Creeeepy!

Julee J. Adams said...

I have to admit, I stopped blogging when I realized I was getting as many page views with no new posts as when I was knocking myself out posting. I will go back to it on a limited basis when I get ready to self-publish.
There will come a time when I move on from Facebook and there will be some other way to keep in touch with my niece from Virginia and my third grade teacher, but it will do right now. They can make money off of me, but when I do publish, they will become my tool.
Work it, girl. Thanks for the reminder.

leslie tentler said...

This is just what we were talking about the other day, isn't it?

I agree with what Sherry said - that I think the problem isn't so much that FB is a business, but that expectations are built by being free and straightforward in the beginning to build an audience...and then constantly changing the rules.

Personally, I'd be much more open to paying a monthly fee (assuming it's not too large) for having an author page. I'd prefer that, knowing my posts are being read by those who liked me, than having to take the time to pay to promote each post singularly. Time is a valuable commodity, after all.

Jamie Farrell said...

Leslie - TOTALLY agree about a monthly subscription. I'm not opposed to paying to use a company's services, but the return on investment (both money and time) has to be worthwhile. FB got us all by having it so free and easy for a long time, but now they've damaged the trust factor.

In the meantime, I'm working at figuring out where else I can connect with fans and on how to direct them to my website, which I own and will never hide from anyone.

Pamela Mason said...

Whew! I admit, I was sweating the feedback. So many people are upset about the changes!

Gemma, glad you understand the metadata thing. Try AdBlocker for blocking out those pesky ads for teeth whitening.
Let's make it work FOR us by looking at as many books as possible to help them build views and up their ad count. It's going to be hard but that's playing their game.
Thanks for visiting!

Pamela Mason said...

You nailed it Sherry!

Services in our economy have to be paid for. Maybe this is striking me because I have two in college majoring in IT applications and I want them to work a job with a supporting wage. How many people does Facebook employ all by itself? And how do they pay them if not for charging for their services?
And yes... I like your lesson about the free initiatives. But I've always taught my kids there's no such thing as a free lunch...

Pamela Mason said...

Hi Chris Bailey! Thanks for visiting and for the LIKE too.

Pamela Mason said...

I did NOT know that Carla - already? Wow... that is creepy, but it's another thing to get used to.
I keep marveling that we're all going to be wearing Dick Tracy 2 way communicators in the very near future.

Beam me up Scottie!

Pamela Mason said...

Exactly Julie - make FB your tool. Thanks for visiting!

Pamela Mason said...

Yes Leslie, I think a monthly subscription is a great idea.

I also think FB won't be able to implement it for the very reason that I wrote this post and you and Sherry put your fingers on - they cultivated an audience that wants their social network to remain free. And the difficulty to change horses midstream should teach Mr.Z and Ms.S and the FB shareholders that they destroy the most important thing consumers hold over business' heads -- TRUST.

FB broke our trust and is trying to pretend like it doesn't know what its users are complaining about.

That's why we need to play their game and make it our b ch.

Pamela Mason said...

Jamie Farrell, You have a lovely site. Lovely book cover. Lovely title and hook.
I feel your pain, but it's going to take time. Keep at it and doing what you're doing. Look for book centered sites like Literary Addicts and The Midlist.
And thanks for visiting!

Carla Swafford said...

LOL! Pam, the new big thing is wrist watches with Internet. I think Samsung brought out one last year. Probably several out now. So Dick Tracy is here and now. :-)

Rashda Khan said...

Awesome post Pamela! Love your common sense & straight talk :D

Pamela Mason said...

Thanks Rashda!

Wish I had added the gifs now...

Carol Cassara said...

Yes. Yes. and YES. People behave like FB is an inalienable right. But it IS a business. Thank you.

Pamela Mason said...

You are welcome Carol Cassara!

robertsonreads said...

Hi Pamela,
Wow. That was funny and so on the spot true. I'm not sure how metadata works but I'm game. I get tired of FB changing up stuff....leave well enough alone. Or, they will feel the wrath of us 31% percenters...and it will get ugly.
Thank you for such an entertaining and informative post.
Ginger Robertson aka robertsonreads

Louisa Cornell said...

I do wish they'd settle on a format and stick with it. I understand the business part completely, but sheesh! Some of us older people are getting run over on the learning curve every time they switch up. I thought working for Walmart was like working for a schizophrenic!

But I do agree we can make this work for us as writers and authors if we just look out for each other.

Pamela Mason said...

You are welcome Ginger Robertson!

And yes... us 31%ers have... say it with me..
P O W E R !

Pamela Mason said...

You are right Louisa. And if we can just survive long enough for Mr.Z to get to midlife here, maybe-just-maybe FB will settle down!

One can hope...

Christine said...

Amazing post!! I'm sharing it. Thanks for putting this into perspective!

Pamela Mason said...

Thanks for visiting and sharing Christine.
There's a lot more where this came from... :)

Larynn Ford said...

Drone delivery + rednecks with shotguns. Has Amazon really thought this through?

Ali Hubbard said...

Great post and definitely won't shoot the messenger! I like the comments from everyone too. I always learn a little something.

Pamela Mason said...

Larynn! Let's hope the Duck Dynasty people will be able to differentiate it from the real thing!

Pamela Mason said...

Thanks Ali. It's got my wheels turning, that's for sure.

Cari Hislop said...

I think the maddening thing about Facebook is that they keep changing every seeming five minutes. I opted out three or so years ago after nearly bursting a vein in rage trying to figure how to navigate their "improvements". Part of me thinks I've shot myself in the foot because now I can't see photos of my nieces and nephews, but my stress level is so much lower it's probably worth the sacrifice. I won't know who the heck my nieces and nephews are when I pass them in the street, but I'll be sane. They'll probably appreciate that! :)

I hope you have a better experience and lots of people are inspired to read your books! :)

Jamie Farrell said...

Pamela - just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU! for mentioning The Midlist. This is the only place I had heard of it, but WOW. Amazing results!! :-)