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Why Facebook?

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When the Cambridge Analytica story broke a few weeks back, a certain level of uproar ensued. But the simple question, amidst all the noise: would anyone actually delete their Facebook account as a result? Lots of talking heads tackled the question, and Professor Scott Galloway went so far as to predict that not only would users not delete their accounts, but they would probably take to Facebook to express their outrage. He hasn’t been wrong.

So I decided to conduct my own little study, asking everyone I know in my little circle two simple questions: would you be deleting your FB account, and if not, why not? I asked friends, family members, even some of my colleague in our retail industry.

The results don’t need a complex chart. Not one person said they’d be deleting their account.

This is over a sample size of about 25 friends, family members, and co-workers. And the really interesting part is that I very rarely had to ask the second question: the moment most people tell you they are not going to delete their Facebook account they feel immediately compelled to justify why not. Most for some variation of the same reason: “because they have my family.”

I kid you not – try it. Ask someone you interact with today if they have any intention of leaving the social network and they will very likely tell you they can’t for the same reason people have always abided by organized crime: because it would hurt their daughter, or their grandkids, or their far-away aunts and uncles to do anything about it. It’s insane.

Mark Zuckerberg might have started his “FaceMash” application as a me-too attempt at RateMyFace.com or AmIHot.com in an attempt to bro-out on a college campus, but now he’s holding us all hostage. And I say us because – even though I haven’t posted on FB since July 2016 - I haven’t deleted my account yet either. What the actual hell?

Here at RSR, we established several years ago that Facebook didn’t hold a lot of business opportunity for us. Instead, we decided to focus any company-focused social media efforts on LinkedIn and Twitter – both far better suited for business. Facebook, we decided, would be for cat videos, vacation photos, and various other personal wastes of time.

Did your business every find a business case for Facebook? I remember attending conferences 5 and 6 years ago where the topic at hand was “What is the value of a like?” Here in 2018, I still haven’t heard many compelling answers. Sure, some brands have done a tremendous job with promotional work on the platform, particularly in the fields of brand awareness and brand community. However, even in our most recent eCommerce research, retailers tell us they have not yet figured out how to sell on Facebook in a meaningful way. In fact, each year for the past 3 years they tell us “we hope this will be the year we finally figure out how to sell on social media”… only to return 12 months later with little to report.

So no one likes Facebook using their personal information like BadGuy Inc from a cold war action movie. Very few have figured out how to make any real money on the platform yet. And everyone says they would absolutely leave, if they could, but it would hurt their loved ones if they did.

As the old proverb goes: “May you live in interesting times.”

 


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Articles & Opinions April 3, 2018
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