A midnight rant on “Facebook Fatigue”…

It’s midnight here in my Montreal hotel room, and I can’t help to control my urge to rant about a term that has been coming up lately in the business blogoshpere and key marketing podcasts: “Facebook Fatigue“.

Basically, certain “traditional” marketing folk are getting tired of Facebook and the aura of hype surrounding it. They’ve tried some ads, or maybe even started a group, with no results. Further yet, they bombard their business e-mail lists with Facebook “friend requests” in what appears to be some sort of subconscious, pseudo-high school, business popularity contest. Then they sit there with 500+ contacts and stare at their empty Facebook “walls” and wonder why there are no signs of life.

Well guess what? That’s not what Facebook is supposed to be about. It was not made for “business” purposes. This was originally supposed to be a Harvard dorm room application for students to communicate with each other and see what their friends are up to. Within a few months it exploded all over College campuses across North America, the rest is history…

The vast majority of original Facebook users have “genuine” connections. Meaning that they simply added their offline friends and family to their lists; They simply brought the conversations online. If you request to be added to someones list (whom you don’t know very well) in order to promote your business or build a client database, you will stand out like a sore thumb. If you’re not careful you will do more damage to your brand than good. Facebook is NOT MySpace!

A large part of the group of people that actually “use” Facebook for what it was meant to be, consists of “early adopters”, (myself being one of them- on Facebook since late 2005). When the mainstream media got a hold of Facebook (most notably after the VirginiaTech incident), businesses came running in faster than ever before. Soon after, Facebook opened its platform to developers (Facebook Apps), at which point the floodgates flew wide open. The professional business world (most of which didn’t grow up using and learning proper etiquette of ICQ, MSN Messenger, etc…) started adding as many people to their “friends” lists as possible with an intent to either network or promote something to them…this is where “quality” suddenly took a serious hit and “quantity” was the new kid on the block. As a rule of thumb, I tend not to accept “friend requests” of people I do not know well enough to want to have a beer with them on a Friday night.

That being said, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Facebook has a ton of great advertising tools for businesses to help them reach these true social networks. While I’m still not particularly sold on the “fan” page idea in terms of my own business (I find they cater more to stores and artists), the targeted social ads are fabulous.

My point here is that if you’re going to use Facebook for business purposes, you must realize that what works for one business will not necessarily work for another. Fan pages work for some, but for others that want to create communities around a subject rather than a brand (and thus become authority figures), “groups” might make more sense. For those that simply want to build a business network, I recommend using LinkedIn. Above all, if you’re going to use any of Facebook’s great advertising tools, make sure that you know who your target audience is ahead of time so that you can cater your message accordingly. Finally, please stop talking about “Facebook Fatigue”. If it’s not working for you, then either re-examine your tactics (to see if they align well with your overall objectives) or accept the fact that Facebook is not for everyone.

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