Monday, November 4, 2013

Facebook: the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg

I have talked about storytelling in the last few posts and I find the recent admission by Facebook, that younger users are abandoning the medium, interesting.  It really reinforces what I have described in my last blog…that these technology tools will continue to evolve, to better emulate our subconscious desire for a more immersive storytelling experience. Now…the data in the study is not new (spring 2013) but Facebook’s admission that the data sets do confirm what they already know, is new.

 Facebook is like a one size fits all medium that has looked in the mirror and ignored what it really is - in favour of becoming what the marketplace wants it to be. In doing so it has abdicated its role as an unfettered story telling medium. Advertisers and the marketplace have put continual pressure on this medium to generate verifiable sales and return on investment and in doing so corrupting the very nature of the experience.  It’s kind of like the “Goose That Laid the Golden Egg”. Instead of allowing this medium to evolve and gradually respond to its audiences while we enjoy the fruits resulting from the process, market forces have shaped this medium into a blunt instrument that has created a hollow story telling experience and in doing so alienated young audiences. In short … the Goose is cooked!

 Parents who have been trained through television’s long incubation period, to tolerate or mindlessly ignore online ads, have flocked to Facebook in droves while younger audiences have begun abandoning the medium. The co-opting of this medium by advertisers, sponsored messages, ill-conceived social media strategies and the rush by companies to leverage the medium as an advertising channel have made it more like television and less like interactive storytelling.  It has become more like a place where older people watch and share personal dramas or post quotes from other people or brands. Not much of a story there!

 Unfortunately Facebook has not had the time to evolve and it’s my opinion that it will be surpassed in the not-to-distant future by a service we have not even heard of yet and relegated to “Yahoo” status ….alive but not well. What this does tell us is ….that tools like Facebook can be used if we are prepared to tell genuine stories about others and ourselves while immersing the audience in the experience. Audiences understand the genuine article when they see it. Advertisers and the medium itself have to treat their audience with respect rather than as a commodity.

Younger audiences are seeking to create their own narrative experiences (just like we did in the sixties) only to find out their parents have flocked to the medium to become cool. I think younger audiences might have been able to work around it or even tolerate it but the combination of their parents using the medium and an oversaturation of advertising is  finally “cooking the goose”. I am not slagging Social media here ...because I believe it has an important place in the social fabric of society and will continue to evolve - to a point where it emulate more realistically that primitive story telling experience.

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