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May 22, 2012

Facebook’s True Value…

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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FACEBOOK IS A FLOP ON WALL STREET! For those of you who are surprised, you weren’t thinking about it correctly. From a strictly business perspective, it make sense that Facebook would not do well because collecting friends is different than investing dollars. It’s the difference between business and pleasure… and the audience for such it the key…

I have long contended that Facebook is for teenagers. Though it was conceived as a way of college students to make friends with other college students, it has now become a status symbol of adulthood. A 13-year-old who can get on Facebook is now more of an adult and a senior citizen who gets on Facebook is now youthful and fresh. And now those of us in the middle don’t want anything to do with it because we’re neither and don’t want to be either.

Facebook is pleasure. I’ve read some of the posts from accounts of people I knew and I haven’t seen anything ground-breaking in thought. I’ve only seen mostly silly banter and people taking pride in how many “Friends” they can collect – whether they know the person or not. If you need a platform for which to do that, Facebook fits. But, if you’re a business that wants to survive, a 15-year-old is not going to get it done for you.

I think this is the rational at which General Motors arrived. They decided to stop advertising on Facebook. Why? Because 15-year-olds are not buying cars. I recently had someone say to me, “It’s growing future buyers.” That’s not how you grow future buyers. 13-year-olds get groomed into brand loyalty by their parents, not the other way around. Get to the parents and you get immediate potential buyers who then groom future buyers in their 13-year-olds. Makes sense, right?

And the older people on Facebook aren’t there because they want to be – they’re there because they think the HAVE to be to stay current and be relevant. So, they’re membership is passive at best. The advertising doesn’t get to them because they participate as a means to an end. But, they do buy stock and they’re not passive about that…

Buying stock… Initial public offerings… Wall Street. All very serious. Not at all casual. Facebook is casual. This is why the stock opened at $38.00 to some concern; Reached a high of $46.00 and has now plummeted to $23.00 and sinking. I knew this would happen. I stopped several friends from getting in on the IPO because they weren’t even on Facebook. They were looking to follow the trend…

And that defines Facebook. It’s a trend. Facebook survives on the propaganda technique of bandwagon: If everyone else is doing it, I will too. There are so many passive users on Facebook that, at some point, it’s all going to slow down and people are going to move on to something else – starting with General Motors… Facebook will survive as a repository of names as a symbol of success.

So, save your money and save your time for a social media experience you like, want to use and reaches the exact audience you want and need. Social media can be a great way to connect with new people and maintain loyalty as well, but, don’t forget – The rules of advertising should still apply first and foremost.