Will Facebook Rule the Future of Social?

Facebook KingFacebook is very powerful right now, pervading our everyday lives and businesses. And they have no intention of stopping. While not as acquisition-hungry as Google, which has a reputation for buying up every great small business in sight, Facebook is expanding scope like hotcakes. Places, Deals, Marketplace, Photo Recognition, Questions, Games, Groups, Mobile…the list of Facebook products grows everyday.

So my question stands:  Will Facebook rule the future of social?

No, I don’t think so. Facebook, while omnipresent, is not currently based in natural human exchange. Pokes, wall posts and events are digital abstractions of real dialog. The future of social will be…more social.

Facebook is a closed social graph. And by that, I mean it’s A) restricted to the people you “friend,” B) restricted to the people signed up on Facebook and C) restricted to active device users. This type of social network is limiting and far too much effort. Worse, it’s not human. In real life, we meet people and they become acquaintances. We spend more time with people and they become our friends (or enemies). There is no mutual contract, no “friend” button. Venture capitalist Fred Wilson touches on the unnatural effort involved in curating your various network lists when he forecasts the Implicit Social Graph.

Social technology will evolve. I predict that a platform with the most open, implicit social graph and a passive user experience that promotes true human interaction by keeping your phone in your pocket will take the cake as social media king. Facebook is not situated, nor was it founded, to promote such an organic vision.

What do you predict? Do you think Facebook is an unstoppable behemoth or will the value of real life ultimately take it down?

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Imperial Crown (Heraldry) vector art via Wikimedia Commons.

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Why the Email Subject Will Never Die

Mark Zuckerberg does not favor email as a mode of communication because he finds it too clunky and formal. “You have to think of the email address, you have to think of a subject line. You write, ‘Hey Mom’ at the top. You write, ‘Love, Mark’ to conclude it.”

I agree with him about the email address part – any email client that does not automatically fill in the addresses in your recipient field deserves to fail. But I do not agree with the subject line part.

In the social world, it makes sense. Most people share relatively linear relationships with their friends and can contextualize a random message based on past and current circumstances. The person’s name is usually enough to clue you in on the content of the message. You do not need a subject line for a SMS or Facebook message.

But that only works until personal takes a business turn. When tasks, goals or projects are outlined in text between two or more people, it becomes necessary to separate and categorize different messages. All mixed together, task items become difficult to track and organize. To me, Facebook messages are an organizational nightmare. Don’t you dare try to do business with me through Facebook.

The naked subject line does not work AT ALL when you do not know the sender. The subject line is the sender’s only chance at catching my attention. Like a book title, the subject line must explain who the person is and hook me into reading the message. I get over 90 legitimate emails per day, 75% of which are not spam or newsletters and a large chunk from people I do not know. If I spend two mintues with each email (which is on the short end of what it usually takes), that’s nearly 3 hours a day in Gmail. I do not have time for that. Without the email subject, I cannot prioritize, categorize or contextualize.

Email subjects are titles. We are a title-driven culture. The title is a necessary barrier to entry. They always say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But the cover is all we have to make a choice. As long as we have choices to make, we will have titles there to help us. As long as I have a million emails to read, the subject line better be there to help me.

True Fans

In a world of menial “like” buttons, ratings and million myspace friends, the notion of network is clouding the value of true fans. In this niche-saturated marketplace, fans are now more important to a brand than ever. They are your lieutenant commanders in marketing, stimulate the lion’s share of revenue, and take responsibility for the tribe. Filmmaker Kevin Smith values his fans and is self-distributing his latest film to them before anyone else. Identify your fans and show them appreciation.

 
A true fan:

  1. listens to you
  2. talks about you
  3. believes in you enough to give you money before your product exists
  4. does not expect financial return


Everyone else is just a customer.