Friday, November 30, 2007


by Marcus Sakey

So I caved. After years of resisting the pressure, I created a Facebook page.

Facebook, like MySpace and texting, is becoming one of those technical divides that marks a change between age groups. For me, it was email--when I was in college, email was just coming into mainstream use, and a remember many a conversation with "old folks" who didn't see the point. "Why not just call? they would ask, reasonably enough. And I'd try to explain as best I could, none of it really coming down to something you could put your finger on, just a statement that it was cool, and useful, and that like it or not, it was the way of the future.

Surprise! I'm one of the old folks now. I'm a little baffled by Facebook. Not how to work it--I'm a pretty technical guy, and have been on computers my whole life, so it's not that I don't understand. I understand. I just don't get it.

Or didn't, at least. After having spent a couple of days playing around, adding friends, installing widgets, and rating movies, it's starting to make a little more sense, at least as a way of keeping in touch with people. I can see how it would be especially useful if, say, your high school gang was going to different colleges. It's an easy, noncommittal way to say hello, to share your pictures, to keep people up on your moods. That part I can see.

Where I'm not sure it's useful is as a marketing tool. Unless I'm missing something--and I may well be, so fill me in--it doesn't seem like it's easy for people I don't know to find me, even if they're searching, unless we have a chain of friendships in common. Plus, once they get there, I'm still a little baffled about what they would do then. Compare their movie taste to mine? I guess that's something, but I'm not sure it's much.

I don't know. Anybody have thoughts on Facebook in general, or on using it as a marketing tool?

And anybody wanna be my friend?


Libby Hellmann said...

I have a Facebook page too.. my daughter signed me up. Said I had to do it.. that MySpace is so yesterday. I can see why she likes it.. she's a freshman at Iowa and she does keep in touch with high school friends that way (although she texts them constantly).. in fact, they all became MY friends...

I actually think it's kind of cool. Helps bridge the generation thing. Although I don't check it as much as I should. As far as marketing, well... maybe.. kinda sorta... but probably not.

Still, I'll be your friend, Marcus.

JT Ellison said...

Big discussion about this at today, Marcus. Come by and see the thoughts.

I'm with you, still not entirely sure that this is useful for marketing to readers, though it's fun to keep up with everyone. Yet another virtual watercooler.

Sean Chercover said...

Facebook wasn't built to be a marketing tool. Everybody relentlessly pimping themselves is what made MySpace no fun. The Facebook folks even built a "how do you know this person?" feature, to discourage people from collecting "friends" who are really strangers.

Still, I couldn't help but notice that there's a Facebook "Marcus Sakey Fan Club" (took all my willpower not to join) so maybe Facebook is changing.

I'm doubtful that any of these social networking sites have a great deal of marketing value. But I could be wrong (as I often am).

JD Rhoades said...

I want a Facebook fan club, damn it!

Seriously, though, I know I've sold some books through MySpace/Facebook/blogs...or so the readers tell me via e-mail. The question is, does that justify the time spent?

The answer: damned if I know.

RJ Mangahas said...

As a currently unknown writer, I can sort of see the use of Facebook. You can start with the friends you know, and hopefully build from there. For the most part, I agree with you. I'm really not to sure about the overall effectiveness of Facebook as a marketing tool.

Gregg Olsen said...

Hmmmm. I joined the Marcus Sakey Fan Club. I think there's three of us now.

Barbara said...

Hmm... I guess, for me, it's a little like asking whether having a large family and a lot of friends is a good thing for marketing.

Facebook is an interesting crossroads. I use it (in a half-assed way) to keep up with current and former students and fellow librarians and far-flung family members and people in higher ed and writers I know, and it's cool to see different parts of my life intersect. But I hope it doesn't get as junked up with ads and commercial as MySpace (though no doubt it will... this is America, after all, and advertising is what it's all about...)

Marcus Sakey said...

Okay, for the record, I'm not behind the Marcus Sakey Fan Club. That's my friend Jenny Carney whom you should all poke and make fun of. She'd been trying to get me to join for a long time, and this was her way of arm-twisting me.

That it worked is something I try not to think too hard about.

Having spent a couple more days playing, I'm confirmed in two things. First, I find it kinda fun, though not the all-out addiction some folks do, and second, it's a lousy marketing tool. Which is fine. Just different than I expected.

Cameron Hughes said...

Best decision I ever made as a reviewer was to use Myspace to network with authors.

Roy D. Schickedanz said...

Marcus each generation promotes its own ideas in terms of a Facebook, seeking new understandings and rewriting and adding to the story of man. The plasticity, which man shows, makes him, no doubt, the dominant species.

Life as a Responsive Design makes livings always open book to change and adaptability.