Monday, January 23, 2012

Now That Facebook is in the Neighborhood...

(photo: Austin Walsh)

My intention at first for this blog post was a quick how-to on Facebook advertising, motivated in part by my natural curiosity being a socialmediaist, and from my attendance on Thursday at the Facebook presentation on advertising at the Quadras Conference Center in Menlo Park.

I changed my mind. Here's why.

Facebook has been pushing advertising for small businesses quite a bit lately, and they want users to buy-in -- the idea being that those who know you already are more likely to be interested in what you have to offer. Makes perfect sense. The prospect of connecting with over 800 million potential customers isn't too shabby either.

If you want instructions on how to set up an add, Facebook does a good job walking you through it over here.

But what became quite apparent during the Q and A session, is a classic cart before the horse scenario. Judging from the audience comments, Facebook is still frustrating and confusing a lot of people. One commenter was concerned that the "Review" feature, which businesses need to get referrals, had disappeared entirely. Facebook's response? Well, it wasn't working right so we took it away. How about fixing it or having a better version at the ready so we don't have to wait a few years, in the middle of a sinking economy?

Another user complained that no one was seeing her status updates, and someone else chimed in, confused about the whole FAN page vs Personal page thing. Some uncomfortable skirming in seats, and a noticeable silence as audience members watched Facebook staffers try to jump through some rather sticky hoops.

I don't think this was the reception Facebook had in mind.

I've been doing social media consulting in Silicon Valley for 5 years, and Thursday's event confirms what I've been seeing all along. Comments like:
"I don't have time for Facebook" and "I just don't get it," are dowright common, even with Facebook right in our backyard.

No one's going to cook an omelette if they don't know how to make scrambled eggs first. Now that Facebook is in the neighborhood, they need to do a much better job de-mystifying Facebook for the folks around the corner, or their advertising push, at least around these parts, is going to end up like so many of the Facebook features launched and abandoned in the wink of an eye. Or in this case, a Status Update.

PS The folks at did a nice write-up of the event, and below is a screen capture of my comments over to them, including a suggested "Facebookmobile" (not kidding), so we can clear up the basics and move on.

What do you think? Is FB rolling out too many features for its own good? Is it time for FB to hold a Menlo Park Town Hall?

-Carrie Jaffe-Pickett
writer, editor

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