True confession time – after reading of an editor’s comment that she always checks Facebook before deciding to take on a new author, I decided to get serious about Facebook. That was eight weeks ago. In that time, I’ve found 202 new friends and discovered a world of social interaction that is truly enjoyable.
Although still a relative neophyte, I now know a bit more about how this particular social media tool works. I’ve caught up with friends from the past, seen many pictures of children, grandchildren, dogs and cats, been inspired by words of wisdom that others share and expanded my connections with the historical fiction community. I’ve enjoyed hearing about the successes of new authors and the progress that writers like Elizabeth Chadwick and Sharon Kay Penman are making on their WIPs. Personalities emerge through choices people make about what to post and where to comment. Politics emerge too and I have tried to be careful not to dive into those particular waters. From a sociological perspective Facebook is fascinating!
Then, of course, there’s the opportunity to understand Facebook as a business. Two items come to mind.
- Recently I asked my son why he had ‘liked’ an ad for Volkswagon. He said that he had not to which I said, but I’ve seen three of these ‘likes’ in the past few weeks. A bit of head scratching followed and then an aha! Apparently about a year ago he had seen what he thought of as a clever ad for Volkswagon and ‘liked’ it. The folks at Facebook facilitate advertising for companies by putting them in touch with friends of someone who has ‘liked’ their product regardless of how current that activity might be. I suppose the assumption is that your friends will like the same products you do. Facebook owns the information about your friends and can use it for their commercial purposes. Interesting that Volkswagon fails to mention that my son liked their ad 12 months ago. Not surprising, merely new to me.
- Facebook seems to be aggregating product mentions on behalf of advertisers and posting them on your timeline as though they were status updates. I saw one today that leverages status updates from two of my Facebook friends where the word Amazon is included. (I won’t post a picture because I don’t want to include the names of friends.)
Both of these examples remind me that there is no such thing as ‘free’ in today’s digital world. I wonder if these commercial aspects are improving Facebook’s share price?