More and more, I am seeing how Mr. Zuckerburg might have missed the mark on his transparency mantra. Our lives are multifaceted. There is certainly a place for separation between these facets, especially one’s professional life and personal life. Not because we have something to hide personally, or professionally for that matter. But simply because in the new world of Facebook being used for business, our personal feeds are so polluted by messages that are “work” that they are no longer “fun”.
We live and work in an era of unprecedented connectivity. Many of us watch television with an iPad on our laps – viewing two screens simultaneously. And that same connectivity allows us freedom to work from anywhere and therefore at any time. This benefit brings a risk: the only way to shut down professionally could be to disconnect personally. Isn’t that sad?
I live on the opposite side of the world from my family and many of my friends. When I moved to Australia, Facebook was a wonderful way to share what I was up to, how my kids were growing, and to hear about the important and banal moments in their lives. And then the marketing started.
In order to promote my business, I need to be connected to a number of organisations, many of whom do most of their communicating through Facebook. And so I can only really log on for enjoyment if I’m also prepared to respond to work related things. And even though I own a small business, and I’m usually prepared to jump on a good opportunity, I’m old enough to know from experience that I’m no good to my business if I’m burnt out or unfocussed.
Here are the three problems I see with Facebook that have reduced how much I use it as a consumer:
1. Interlaced personal and business messages have made my timeline a scrolling marketing billboard.
Who doesn’t want some leisure time that is not trying to sell you something?
2. Requirement to be friends with someone before they can become an admin on your page.
Working virtually means that I don’t actually know some of these people, though they do a great job and are indispensible to my business.
3. Requirement to use Facebook as a business tool results in it moving to the list of things I only want to use with a professional hat on.
Meaning that I’d rather share my life somewhere else. I just don’t know what that somewhere else is yet.
And it seems that many of my “in real life” friends have noticed this too as the updates they post (or Facebook’s algorithm allows me to see) have reduced substantially over recent months. Yes, Facebook is a great tool with a phenomenal user base. No, Facebook is not going to thrive as the information superhighway’s billboard service that it has become.
Algorithmic tweaking is clearly focussed on that ever important number of how many posts we each see from any of the contributors to our newsfeed. Facebook is still thinking about their customer, but that customer is no longer each of us as a person, it is the businesses they need to pay for ads and feed Wall Street.