Radio Think Tank Talk – Social Networks Warping Society, A Revaluation of Importance
Well here we are on this 24th day of October 2012, and we ought to ponder for a minute how much our society has changed in this last decade. In many regards it hasn’t necessarily been for the better, and I’d like to cite the example of online social networking, as it seems to have invaded our Internet lives to a large degree, often making a mockery out of the important issues and the challenges of our time. The social networks have caused the over throw of governments, de-stabilized civilization, and changed the outcomes of elections. Our elections in the United States included.
Still, is it a net negative or have these social networks actually brought us closer together in other ways thus, it is a net positive? You see, the reality is there is always good and bad in any new technology – social networks included. Today on this program I will argue that social networks are a big problem for human societies, and if this continues in the current direction we will pay a dear price for it in the future. Currently, we are watching productivity drop as employees are too busy text messaging friends and playing on Facebook while at work to be of any real value to a company’s bottom line.
The billions of hours wasted each quarter are hurting companies’ profits and revenue, it also causes challenges with workflow, customer service, and mistakes. We are killing people on the road as users attempt to access their social networking sites, send tweets, or text messages while driving. Indeed, as a bicyclist, I am afraid to ride anymore – too many close calls, and it seems those text messages are more important to people than my life or even their own safety. In fact, I saw a bumper sticker the other day, it read; “Honk if you love Jesus, Text if you want to meet him,” and that about sums of that problem in a nut shell doesn’t it?
Indeed, I can remember when I received my first text message, I thought it was rude, as I’d sent detailed instructions and explanations to a fellow associate, and he sent me back a one-sentence email, I hadn’t realized it was a text message sent from his mobile phone to my email address. I was so turned off I cancelled my deal, and called another associate. Only later did I realize that he was just texting me with his new technology – still, the shallowness of his comment was the deal breaker, so I moved on.
It amazes me sometimes the number of people who wish to state their opinions about things they know nothing about. They critique, chastise, and show their ignorance at every turn. They mistake comments made by achieved persons to mean something else because their attention span is so low. Further, any attempt to correct them is just “pearls to swine” as they don’t get it or even care to understand. You see, they are so interested in notoriety and self-validation, that they work so very hard to promote the most socially responsible and politically correct argument, even if it is untrue or a white wash of reality.
One of the biggest and scariest things I’ve seen is how people who’ve done nothing in the world ever in their lives are busy trying to gain friends and figure that once they get a lot of friends on their social networking page, they have arrived. The problem is very few of those people are actually friends, and some of them are not even real. It becomes even worse as they run around complimenting people hoping to get more friends and followers, and follow others in order to hope to get a reciprocal friend, or join someone else’s circle of influence. The whole thing has now become a big, fake, sick joke.
Still, these folks feel they are now something special with lots of pictures of so-called friends and followers, but to what avail? Some who have attained thousands of friends by hook or crook have worked very hard to get folks to “friend” them back by use of false praise. Indeed, they assume everyone needs pre-validation. They read one book such as “how to win friends and influence people” or take one psychology class in college and assume they can complement their way into someone else’s life. What they don’t understand is the really achieved people don’t care what anyone else thinks, actually any sort of trite compliment is a turn-off, and it’s immediately seen for what it is and what it is worth; nothing.
That is not to say that there isn’t money in social networking, so these players of the game, are not worth nothing as all that data is certainly worth something, and it could be a big revenue machine in the future, so let’s discuss the business model and the challenges moving forward shall we?
There was a recent interesting article in the summer of 2012 which noted that over 10% of all the Facebook accounts were fake – wow, so they don’t really have a billion users as they announced in mid-October of 2012, they only have 900,000 and yes, while that is still quite a few, it also means that potentially 10% of anyone’s listed online “friends” are non-existent, they are not real. Not that anyone who “friends” you on a social network is really your friend anyway – see that point. Please read Bloomberg BusinessWeek article; “The Making of a Billion” by Ashlee Vance (October, 2012).
As I am speaking, today Facebook announced its earnings for Q3 2012 and it beat the street’s low-ball estimate by one-cent per share – big whoopy, skippy, but no one seems to be addressing that it only makes $.42 off each user each month in advertising – but is that advertising really pulling for those advertisers? Still Facebook must find more ways to make money and we’ve heard all sorts of things such as offering gambling online where it is legal in the UK, and we’ve heard rumors of going into the mobile tech field with their own mobile phone – that would be interesting.
Indeed, Facebook realizes how valuable all that data that they have is, who doesn’t right, isn’t it all about Big Data these days? There was an interesting article in the LA Times titled; “For Sale: Your Info” by David Lazarus, and I’d also recommend reading; “Facebook Gains Two Big Advertisers’ Support” by Shayndi Raice, Mike Ramsey, and Sam Schechner which discussed the auto industry and the GM choice to stop advertising on Facebook because it wasn’t pulling for them. On Twitter some users with an abundant number of followers have been paid to talk up a Ford Taurus, or Ford Hybrid Escape earning 10s of thousands of dollars often for only one tweet.
That sounds silly, and somewhat pathetic when you think about it, but if it works for those companies and their Hollywood Starlet of the month gets people into the Ford dealership, well what the heck, if it works; go for it, right? Facebook had was making some $3 billion a year on advertising as of the middle of 2012 (Cite: Wall Street Journal 5-2-2012 “The Big Doubt Over Facebook” by Suzanna Vranica and Shayndi Raice). Still, just last month in September of 2012 an editorial in the WSJ noted “The Facebook Deficit” as the title which also noted that California hoped that the Facebook IPO would be big and cause a $2.5 billion dollar tax revenue windfall helping to shore up the budget, well that didn’t happen.
Is Facebook’s stock going to collapse? Well, it might as there will be a number of insiders who are now able to sell their shares in late October and November, which could cause the shares to tumble. This could cause an implosion, or if losses subside or revenue guidance continues an upward trend maybe those shares might find a bottom and then climb back upward. No one can say, but do you remember the MySpace collapse? How about the recent Digg debacle (cite: WSJ article; “Once a Social-Media Star, Digg Sells for $500,000) by Joseph Walker and Spencer E. Ante.
Facebook does have advertising potential especially for branding and big brand names, even political ads, but even big advertisers often note that their ads do not be appearing to pull for sales, but they do help keep brand names in the face of the consumers (cite: “Big Brans Like Facebook, But They Don’t Like to Pay,” by Emily Steel and Geoffrey A Fowler in the WSJ published on 11-12-11). Okay so, if the ads are not pulling, why do advertisers keep playing? Simple, they need exposure and online ads are less expensive per view than per subscriber in the newspaper or on cable TV, thus they often can get a decent bang for their buck for those additional exposures.
Internet ads are outpacing those in newspapers this has been the trend and on December 20, 2010 we noted an article with a chart from eMarketer showing that “for the first time” spending Internet ads exceeded the money spent in print (cite: WSJ article “Online Ads Pull Ahead of Newspapers” by Russell Adams). Well, that seems to be a continuing trend but Facebook has some headwind, namely competition, and the reality that as it grows in user numbers, those overseas users are not worth as much to advertisers as the US users who spend more as consumers, not surprising as they have more to spend.
Facebook and other online companies are now looking to the small business market (cite: WSJ article published on 11-26-11 titled; “Facebook ‘Likes’ Small Business,” by Sarah E. Needleman) and rightfully so, in fact the company started their push by “giving away $10 million in advertising credits. Smart move, but will it work? There are lots of eBooks, and magazine articles about how to use social networking to build your small business, and mobile is all about GPS and location based aps, and Yelp is a help to small businesses, as long as they don’t try to stack the reviews with shrill type comments.
Let’s not count out Google+ or LinkedIn also going after those Internet ad dollars, and realize they are just as wise when it comes to big data. Please read; “LinkedIn Pushes Ad Tools” by Ian Sheer published on 1-26-11 in the WSJ which reflects the increased competition for this business user base on the social networking scene. Of course, 18-months later LinkedIn had their passwords hacked causing a bit of user angst, but we all know there have been security breaches at Facebook and Google as well. With Facebook, some of what had occurred appeared to be “privacy setting” changes by the company which really upset users. Best SMM Panel