Is Facebook the New AOL… or a Universal Velvet Rope?

Facebook UnMarketing ManualI’ve been quiet because I’ve been writing a book about Facebook for Business Users.

People in the generation younger than me get it immediately.

People in my generation kinda get the why and are a little slow on the uptake for the how – that’s mainly who the book is for, because I’m considered a marketing and traffic expert and it took me sitting a couple of steps back to truly get it.

People in the generation above me sometimes need a walkthrough, though they appear to be the best at implementing strategies around it.

They’re the generations before the web made so many people socially ackward, after all.

I like to do their walkthrough by phone, because sometimes I think a few minutes of human interaction with people you know online goes a long way.

Let me back up first and say a few words about what Facebook does. Everyone wants to say what it is… because Facebook’s own description feels vague on account of it being something a bit beyond what we’ve seen before on the web in every direction, to people who understand it.

(The more you get to like Facebook, the harder it will be to explain to your friends. Just get them on it and explain later.)

Facebook mass-connects you to your circle of contacts in the most intimate way that you can without some kind of offline connection. It’s not just a discussion board on crack, nor is it simply a social network with extras.

Yes, it’s driven by profiles… but the difference is, these profiles move.

Not only that, you can opt to give the world you erect around you the ability to follow, even prioritize your moves. You can bring in the people you already know, find those you know who are already on it, and, most importantly for business, connect to new people who are already in it, telling you what they are interested in.

Hardcore marketing or spamming won’t work here though. Everything imaginable is opt-in. And the more you opt-in, the more you are rewarded with a flood of the information you most want. To get into that stream for another user you don’t know, you’ll be judged by what you contribute to the conversation.

So you have to work a little harder to connect with clients and prospects, and that’s a beautiful thing.

However, the fact that the things you do on Facebook are taking place in a “walled garden” has many people comparing this attribute of Facebook to AOL.

But there are just as many prominent web figures on the rebuttal side.

Why all the debate? Because each side has its points. Facebook IS walled off from the rest of the internet. But so many people are used to seeng this as a bad thing that the knee jerk reaction response to condemn it follows suit.

The opposing side is asserting that the difference is simple. Facebook allows us to erect a VIP version of the web that connects us to others in a meaningful way, giving us the option of a Universal Velvet Rope for all our personal and professional connections and information.

Whereas AOL, wasn’t even a walled garden, it was an opt-in prison, the world wide web with blinders, muzzles and floaters.

Jarvis put it more eloquently:

AOL was closed to give AOL control over us and our money. Facebook is closed to give us control over our identities and communities. AOL tried to “own” — their language back then — our relationship with them. Facebook enables us own our relationships with our friends. Kottke complains that my stuff on Facebook is not searchable on Google, but I think that’s the point; I should decide what I want to be searchable and findable to the world instead of just my friends. Yes, it’s closed, but I get to build the walls this time.

I would go beyond that only to add that you can use Facebook to have a better relationship to your clientele as well.

The day may come when not being on Facebook will be like telling your clients who are on it (or going to be on it) that you don’t want that connection – if your competition is using it.

If you work on the web, you have no excuse. Grab a brick and build your wall.

Free excerpt of the book I’m writing about UnMarketing in Facebook. [PDF, 290k]

[tags]facbook, social media, social networking, social platform, facebook, facebook marketing[/tags]