Facebook is a part of our lives, whatever you may think of it. It is also not going away, like Myspace did, it’s here to stay and by the looks of it will play a huge role in how our society works and thinks. If it doesn’t do so already. I have to admit, I am not on Facebook. I used to be but I deleted my account a year or so ago for several reasons. The most obvious one was that I was wasting time on it. I was only on Facebook because I was procrastinating. The deeper reasons of privacy etc came after I had quit the account and yet was bombarded with facebook everywhere I went.
Facebook has entered every facet of society these days, I mean, we have Christian Conservative politicians in Germany that get busted for sex chats with 15 year girls on facebook. No joke about it. What gets me most about facebook though is their ingenious ( from their business point of view ) “Like” application. Incredible piece of thinking really, especially, since it is the easiest thing to physically do on facebook, and it provides the company with invaluable information about you to sell on to advertisers, which is the whole point of facebook. I am not interested in bashing facebook’s business model though, as it is obviously working exceptionally well, and even if it wasn’t, I would still think the idea to be a good one.
Let’s instead talk about the philosophical aspects of you, the “like” button, the brands you “like” and the brands themselves seemingly staking their entire media campaigns on it.
To like, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary means “to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in” something. Personally, I don’t understand how anyone can like a corporation or a brand. For example, I like some Gibson guitars, not all, but some. Do I like the fact that Gibson supports the proposed SOPA act? No. Or, I occasionally like a Coka Cola Light, with ice and lemons to be precise, but do I like the Coke’s atrocious record of human rights and environmental in India, for example? Absolutely not. Yet, Coke has 36’589’640 “Likes” on facebook. So over 36 million people, like Coke on Facebook but I bet a large majority of those “fans” would be appalled at their environmental record around the world. Or, the fact that Coke only pays a going rate of around 6% tax in the US,
“For one thing, Coca-Cola enjoys very low federal taxes, and pays a lower rate than most Americans. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the company’s current federal tax expense is $470 million, which is only 6.5 percent of the $7.2 billion in pre-tax profits that Coca-Cola reported last year. That’s a pretty rosy rate, and certainly does call for a retooling of the tax code—though not in the way Mukhtar Kent wants. (The company told CTJ they actually paid at a 38 percent rate, but would not release any documentation).
Part of the reason that Coca-Cola pays such a low rate is that it parks profits in overseas tax havens like the Cayman Islands. The company has saved $500 billion in some years by hiding profits there.”
Do those 36 million people “like” this? That way below average tax rate means your job mate. Don’t think otherwise. I hope you are getting the point I am getting at here. Corporations exist for one purpose only, to make money. Ethics have nothing to do with making money, and if it means child labour than that is what it will do. H&M has over 8’904’063 “likes”, yet no one ever wonders how they make their clothes so cheap, and no, it has nothing to do with buying in bulk.
I could go on and on about the insanity of “liking” a brand- yet it is a totally acceptable even to take place on facebook. Is you “liking” a major brand on facebook not a slap in the face of every person that suffers from the decisions based on greed of those corporations willing to exploit those that can’t defend themselves? Or to put it more bluntly, every time you like a major corporation you slap a wage slave worker in the face. But they hate you for your freedom, right?
Another question is, what do the brands get out of people “liking” them on facebook? Facebook, like many other major events or groups, operate on the basic principle of fear. Fear of not being a part of something that everyone is a part of. Facebook emotionally blackmails every person and every brand that decides not to be on facebook. I mean, what do you have to loose if you are on facebook? Firstly, your privacy. Secondly, you are selling yourself, or your brand to a company that will steal from you. Steal, because, you aren’t selling anything by participating on facebook, because selling would imply that you are getting money in return. Which you are not. Facebook is getting money from you or your brand being on facebook. Yet, facebook ( and the rest of the social media jungle out there ) is on the top of every marketing and strategy meeting I have been to in the last 5 years, and those were a shit load of meetings. But why? What do you as a brand get out of being “liked” on facebook? Does your brand make more money because you have a 100 people liking you? I don’t think so. Unless you have like a million “likes” on facebook, it actually could be quite embarrassing if your coveted brand only has 1000 likes. Or do the 8 million plus likes H&M have, ease their CEO’s consciousness when they get reminded that unpaid children slave for their cotton?
Personally, I find it mostly revolting to find out and “socialize” with brands and celebrities that I am remotely interested in. In 99% of the cases, I have stopped being into a brand, and most certainly stopped buying their products if they have decided to embark on a serious social media strategy, and you can’t really use the word strategy, since I have yet to come across any brands social media efforts that implied a reason and goal- you know, the definition of a strategy.
Of course, the case for social media exposure, the facebook “like” button and so on is seemingly different when it comes to start ups. I am not wholly convinced, though, as in my experience, every start up- including my own, will bullshit their way through popularity numbers in their first couple of years. Either they then survive the first critical 3 years and some sort of money will be made, not because of a “like” button, or they disappear. Ironically, this here website has a “like” button I just remembered. As I said in the beginning of this article, I am not on facebook, but some trusted friends who help me with this site are, so you can bitch at them for my hypocrisy. Not really, but I thought I should mention it.