Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Facebook: Beware the Rocking Chair Factor

chair.jpgBy Dennis D. McDonald

My good friend Jeremiah Owyang, with whom I wrote an article in early 2006 that is STILL regularly among my weekly top ten posts (this past week it was number one), has written Web Strategy: What the Web Strategist should know about Facebook which brings together an incredible amount of information about Facebook and its potential value in marketing and communications.

I would be a bit more reserved in my enthusiasm, not because I don’t use Facebook — I do — but because things change so rapidly in the online world. Here is the comment I left on Jeremiah’s blog:

 Jeremiah, here are a couple of items that are relevant to this discussion:

(1) My Number One Daughter, a college student, insists that “Facebook is for college kids.” She is adamantly opposed to my involvement there. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her that it’s the latest craze in social/professional networking (at least till the next thing comes along). I predict: if Facebook continues to gain in popularity among us “old farts,” young folks will find another online home. (If I were a competitor to Facebook I would already be rolling out a campaign with the theme “don’t hang out where the old folks are,” and I’d be using a campaign symbol such as a rocking chair with a red line through it.)

(2) I would temper the “corporate web sites are irrelevant” statement with the caveat that not everyone is interested in “community.” When I want to check a fact, buy something I already know about based on price and availability, locate a recipe, find out where a company is physically located, or do something else online where I want to “get in and get out fast,” I will be quite happy with static web pages that provide barebones information without the annoyances of ratings, friending, and joining. (Maybe this has something to do with my aversion to shopping centers and my preference NOT to accompany my wife when she goes shopping for shoes!)

(3) A young professional whom I respect has been informed by the (very large and influential) employer that employees are NOT to use Facebook but should instead use the corporate social networking system due to security and confidentiality concerns.

So one of the things I tell clients is that they should balance the need to understand the potential for systems like Facebook with the need to figure out how they fit into an overall marketing and communications strategy.

Interestingly, if you listen to the podcast I wrote about last week where John Udell interviews the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Lewis Shepherd about the post 9/11 adoption in the intelligence community of wiki and blogging technologies, you will hear some interesting comments not just about the younger analysts’ rapid adoption of social media and networking, but also about how open discussion by younger analysts of their older counterparts’ lack of adoption may actually be a positive type of bonding experience.

Number One Daughter doesn’t buy that; she just thinks it’s inappropriate for me to use Facebook. (For the time being I guess I’ll just have to keep quiet about Facebook when she’s around.)



What Social Media Adoption Model Are You Following?

What Social Media Adoption Model Are You Following?

U.S. Intelligence Community Adopts Social Media and Networking