Friday, July 2, 2010

Would anyone "Like" this blog?

One of my newspaper clients recently added the Facebook "Like" button to their site and saw large increases in traffic. I was thinking of doing the same thing for Content Here but then I started to wonder "would I Like Content Here?" Don't get me wrong. I LOVE writing this blog and I also find the posts tremendously useful as a resource. Re-reading old posts is a great way for me to recreate an idea that I once had in my head or re-use an explanation for one of my clients. Sometimes I catch myself sending link after link to a client.

So while I LOVE this blog, I am not sure that I LIKE it — at least not in a Facebook kinda way. I guess it all boils down to how I use Facebook: I use it for purely social purposes. I keep strict separation between my Facebook world (where I connect with friends and family, many of whom are not technical) and my professional (Twitter and LinkedIn) world. Some contacts span both worlds — mainly people who I know professionally but also hang out with outside of work. On Facebook, I don't post about anything work-related; just as I don't bore dinner guests with esoteric content management theory or programming stuff. There I talk about things that many of my friends and I are passionate about or would find amusing. On Twitter and this blog, I write about things that I find interesting professionally. I avoid personal subjects like my family, political views, and silly humor. I have a feeling that others either consciously or unconsciously maintain this kind of barrier. How many people would want to confuse their non-technical mother-in-law and the rest of their social network by "liking" the post Code moves forward. Content moves backward? Probably about as many people who want their boss to see their beach pictures which were taken on a sick day.

This probably infuriates Facebook because they want to manage the full social graph — not just half of it. But I don't think they have a great answer for people like me. Some of my friends are working around this issue by creating two Facebook accounts: one for business and one for social. My good friend Brice Dunwoodie has a Facebook profile called Brice Dunwoodie SMG for his "semi-public self." But this isn't really a good solution for Facebook because it fractures their social graph. In order to pull these social and professional aspects together, Facebook would need to get really clever about its privacy and filtering settings which are already overly complicated and controversial.

If Facebook can't have all the social graph, which half would they want? Are they be satisfied with the social side of the social graph which they already dominate? Or would they prefer the professional side (currently owned by LinkedIn)? Historically, Facebook ad revenue has been low considering their huge traffic volumes. This makes sense because general interest content (like news, entertainment, personal statuses, and other content that people might "like" in a Facebook kind of way) has notoriously low CPM rates; not like niche publications that have their audience in a buying state of mind and know what types of products they are interested in. Facebook's bet seems to be that, through their social graph, they can improve the targeting problem for general interest content. If they are successful, they will achieve that lucrative formula of high traffic volume AND high CPM. If they are not successful, they will probably need to think of some other way to monetize that large but distracted audience.