Or, how we learned to combine our online personalities and love Facebook
Facebook was created and launched by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. That’s common knowledge to anyone who saw The Social Network. It was a good film; an interesting look at the beginning of what is arguably the most significant communications platform of this young century. What happened to Facebook between 2004 and the day it became a tool for me and the business is a much less interesting story but one that I was forced to consider the other day when our Creative Director came in and asked me how many Facebook pages and profiles we had. Two? I guessed. Nope, she said. I shrugged because I realized I really had no idea how many pages and profiles we’d created. As an early adopter (but not necessarily an early adapter) and someone with more than one entity to promote, I had created more than just a few Facebook pages in our twelve year history. It was her turn to shrug; right before she told me that it would probably be better for me personally and the business as a whole if we maybe thought about addressing our social media Multiple Personality Disorder. Ouch. Like the junk drawer in the kitchen or that “other grip closet” at the studio, I’d been reluctant to address the clutter and confusion I had created online. But with the upcoming five week holiday hiatus, I’ve decided it’s time to get my social media stuff together.
My first Facebook profile dates back to 2008. At that time, Facebook was a little-understood Website that offered you a small piece of digital real-estate for free (they didn’t mention the soul-stealing, data-mining thing at that point). Back then, it was great way for single people to troll the Internet using seventeen year-old photographs of themselves. It was as early digital version of OKCupid or what EHarmony would have been had that Orville Redenbacher-looking romantic guy been more programmer than romantic. When it first started, the Facebook premise was basically about hooking…up. And that’s still a big part of it. For anyone in the business of communication like we are, the Facebook promise was much bigger. But initially, it was about people so the only option you had as a business back then were profiles; I created one for me and one for each of the businesses. And that’s all I did. As the timelines for each would indicate had we not just disabled a couple of the early profiles, there wasn’t much happening on any of those pages. They were just a place that old high-school friends could find me if they were smart enough to work their way through the social media maze I had created. But worse than obfuscating me (which wasn’t really a big deal) Facebook wasn’t doing a thing for the business.
Zuckerberg figured that out not long after we did (he was busy building it for people which turned out to be a pretty good call) and so Pages and a whole host of other services that were designed to make it easier for businesses came later. And they are still coming. The jury is still out as to how effective Facebook is for business and we still struggle in our efforts to get our clients to use “social media” (have I mentioned how inadequate I think that term is by the way?) We however, never blinked or hesitated. With every new Facebook option and for every new project or campaign we developed there was another website with another Facebook page and a new set of Likes or Fans. Eventually I, well we (OK I) developed a social media MPD. So much so that it’s amazing anyone could find me. But it also explains how I have all these friends that I never met. We reached out across the Facebook universe without reservation or hesitation to promote the business.
Facebook, Twitter, Google a.k.a. YouTube and a handful of other revolutionary companies are incredibly and frighteningly powerful. They are designing our communications future every day. And with each new piece of technology or website they are re-writing the rules of entertainment, marketing, advertising and public relations. We saw that coming and jumped in, probably too many times and without enough of a strategy. Today, we’re doing a little clean up, addressing our multiple, social-media personality disorders. But really I wouldn’t change a thing; in spite of the fact that we’re older than Facebook, it’s taught us a lot. And just like Facebook, Twitter and the rest of their lot, we learn something new every day. We have to.