Something has been on my mind for some time now and I haven't been quite able to articulate it. This is partly because I am the farthest thing from a technological visionary that you could imagine. I struggle with the ambiguous, intangible, one-dimensional, random, nature of the entire social networking world. Most of the time, I don't understand its allure. I prefer people to machines, skin to plastic, and conversations to emails. But having said that, from a business, and even sociological perspective, the Internet, and social media in particular, fascinate me as much as they confound me.
Often I wonder what the next iteration will look like. Specifically, that is, will another company come along and do to Facebook what Facebook did to Myspace? Or perhaps the question is not will it happen, but when? Let's face it. There are vulnerabilities that were born into the culture of Facebook that still exist today. Namely, as a brand and organization the company lacks basic goodwill and trust with its users. Not typically the tenets upon which great companies are built. I suspect that if "someone better came along," customers would jump, and maybe even welcome the opportunity to leave what feels like a loveless relationship. And for younger generations, the demographic that gave Facebook its chops in the first place, it's already happening.
That notwithstanding, Facebook is trying by attempting to influence purchase patterns and decisions over time. The mission has come a long way from the days of tracking college girls. Granted, now it tracks the whole world, but this time with a very clear and specific business goal in mind: to bring customers and brands closer together -- and get paid for it. Fair enough. I'd rather be targeted with ads showing things I care about than things I don't. So I'm not on that bandwagon, all up in arms that there are machines using my information to pitch me relevant products in hopes of increasing the chance that I'll buy. Fine. Facebook is free after all. It uses us and our information and we use it back. Like I said, kind of like how it all began.
But anyway, here's the thing: on one hand we have Facebook, whose reason for being is to leverage its audience into ad dollars. They're like brokers -- essentially middleman, connecting buyers with sellers. Then, on the other hand, we have Amazon just a few virtual doors away, a behemoth in of itself that has the people AND the products in one place.
As a merchant and author on Amazon, I have customers who occasionally comment on my pages. If I comment back, I then get an email notifying me of a discussion that is underway. It's perfect, fertile ground. Companies and brands communicate firsthand with their customers and have the opportunity to build communities around their products. Amazon has the infrastructure. Amazon has the audience. Amazon has customers. God knows they have the customers, right there, rapt, looking, interested and buying. So what gives? Who knows, maybe someday there will be a Facmazon!
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