Villing & Company

Why I Stopped Resisting and Finally Joined Facebook

Editor's Note: While this post is a personal reflection and doesn't focus directly on marketing, we think it has some indirect marketing relevance. As marketers trying to engage consumers online, it's important that we keep in mind why people participate in social networks. Unlike traditional advertising, most social networks are, by definition, quite personal and relationship-driven. Companies that thrive in this new environment will be those that modify their messaging and style to match.

I’m not a very social person. I dislike small talk, and much prefer meaningful one-on-one conversations over the shallow discussions that typify large group settings. I’m also not very good at maintaining long distance relationships, a fact that will be readily supported by any of my high school or college friends that happen to stumble across this article. Get a life, freaks! (just kidding)

Because of these basic personality traits, I was very uncomfortable with the core concept of Facebook. The Facebook ecosystem seems to encourage and thrive on the kinds of shallow, disinterested, even narcissistic conversations that I prefer to avoid in real life. The conversations I find the most engaging are not held in front of an audience. Often, the presence of an audience would destroy the transparency and honesty that I value in good conversations.

But it wasn’t only because I wasn’t interested in reading shallow, sanitized posts from everyone in my life that I didn’t join Facebook. I was also worried about how it might affect me. There’s an element of Facebook that reeks of a popularity contest: who can present the most interesting, witty and desirable version of their life online. I liked to think that I’d be able to rise above petty comparisons, judgmental voyeurism and vapid self-promotion if I did join. But isn’t considering my Facebook approach some sort of “high road” in comparison to the average Facebook user just another way of falling into the same comparison-based trap? “Look at me, I’m using Facebook responsibly.” Ugh! It just seemed like an unavoidable problem. The solution for me was simply not to play the game...or at least to play the game by not playing.

Several months ago, however, I finally caved, and set up an account. There were three primary motivating factors that forced my hand:

  1. For the people I actually do care to know about, I was missing out on a lot of their lives in a way that started becoming more obvious to me. When my wife starts knowing more about my extended family than I do, it feels like I might be doing something wrong.
  2. Like it or not, Facebook is going to be a significant marketing channel moving forward. As someone working in the technology side of marketing, it became less and less acceptable to opt out of the world’s largest social network. It began to feel a bit presumptive for me to try to talk knowledgeably about Facebook, while not using it myself.
  3. Facebook integration with other sites and devices sometimes provides a better experience. I decided to take the plunge after purchasing a new phone which integrates contact information from Facebook. This was the final straw, since by not having a Facebook account, I was limiting the functionality of my phone.

All of these trends don't seem likely to disappear anytime soon, so I decided it was time to climb aboard the Facebook bandwagon. Since joining, I’ve definitely taken it slow. All of my original concerns are still factors, so I’ve started off by limiting things to family and close friends who I see frequently. But so far, it’s been fun to at least be in the room where the conversation is happening.

Filed Under: social media

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