Saturday, August 4, 2012

Monetization may well become the death of social media

I remember the first day I heard about Facebook. "How cool," I thought. "Wait a great way to stay in touch with friends and family out of town."

Then the Facebook invitations to “Larry Spada at Home” started asking me to become friends with people who I have never hear of before. “Whaat?” “Who the heck is that?,” I asked everyone in the family. So I went into Privacy Settings and fixed that.

Then the requests started coming to me asking to “Share” my personal information, like my birthday. Now wait a minute. If someone on Facebook doesn't normally remember my birthday, now do I want these folks to start doing so, all of a sudden? I don’t think so.

And then the behavioral preference ads, reinforcing the fact that George Orwell must have been the genius of his time predicting the Big Brother paradigm frenzy we find ourselves in today enveloped by social media and response tracking and analysis.

And now this confluence of never-ending "Likes." Really? Someone actually "Likes" seeing the now defunct Hills® department store sign from Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence, New York? Are you kidding me? It was a hole of a store back then. I wonder if they’ll come to Charlotte to visit the revolting Walmart® store at the Arboretum here? And the even bigger question is do you really care if someone you went to grammar school with – whom you haven’t seen in decades -- "Likes" Walmart®? If you do, you may need more friends.

Fortunately -- or maybe unfortunately -- the legion of Facebook fans have no clue that all of these invitations to these fun-filled and nostalgic ideas, and these “convenient” new features of apps, virtual games and reminders -- are all pathways for Facebook's future financial future growth, or "monetization," as we used to say back in the at ecommerce experience and web development company iXL®.

Obviously because of my chosen career path in branding, I will grudgingly stay connected via Facebook, until it becomes totally obsolete. But I swear on the soul of Steve Jobs, if it wasn't important for me to stay “connected” to observe trends in social media while trying how to figure out how to best leverage them for clients, I would click on that “Delete My Facebook Account” button in a heartbeat.

And now there’s LinkedIn. Recently, I started to join various marketing, branding, creative and social media LinkedIn groups, filled with brilliant minds all across the globe in those respective disciplines. It all makes for stimulating reading and insight -- and more importantly thought-generating new ideas, especially while having leisure time to oneself with Saturday morning coffee.

Then today, while sipping my Trader Joe’s® French Roast cuppa joe in my backyard, trying to glean more commentary and CMO buzz on the future of mobile marketing, I was hoodwinked by some cheesy tech snake oil salesman start-up firm in Los Angeles, who apparently takes great pride in showing video views that they really did have an office (with an electrical gate, no less), and yes, they have a basketball hoop atop their front entrance. And did I mention the pimped-up furniture in their lobby?

Good grief. I've been hornswoggled to buy a “free” report on one of the most important communication pathways of the future: mobile technology.

So what’s the good news? The one saving grace for me personally is still Twitter. I love getting unexpected bits of brain candy from people I respect in technology, marketing, sports, news and food. And if Apple® is successful in forging an alliance with Twitter, maybe, just maybe, it too will not become an infomercial junkyard. I hope.