Earlier this year I kept hearing friends say Facebook wasn’t cool anymore. They were complaining that the social network had lost its edge. My 16-year-old nephew said that he hardly even bothered to log on any more. But my 14-year-old niece remained obsessed and her wall continued to be filled with phrases like “Ur so mushhy. Especially your….” and “Just saw PLL. Im not looking forward to the nightmares im about to have. IIK im sooooo late!! someone ppllzzz help me!”. I, on the other hand, continued to use it, but I found my own use dropping.
In fact, people who were on the cutting edge of tech were using the declaration that they deactivated as a way of showing how cool they were. All of this talk was making me uncomfortable. I continued to speak to clients about Facebook’s size, unique ability to identify hand-raisers (ie, fans) and its increasingly more user-friendly advertising tools. A lot of this conversation was happening around the time of the IPO, when GM walked away from Facebook, and media buyers were claiming that ad engagement was low. A lot of this chatter was happening around the time that any media buyer who had ever done any business with Facebook was being sought out about their opinions on the IPO and the future of social media. While I didn’t buy Facebook stock, I’ve always thought it was a great social network and I had high hopes for its pending mobile products.
It was really bothering me that people were saying Facebook wasn’t cool. I was starting to wonder what place it should have on my client’s communications plans.
But then Sandy happened and I realized it doesn’t really matter whether Facebook is cool.
Facebook connects one billion people around the world. For many of us in the northeast, Facebook was a critical way to stay in touch in with our family and friends and to find out really important updates. In fact, I found out when the power came on in my building via Facebook. Facebook made me feel connected, informed and safe. I saw the devastation that happened on Staten Island and the Rockaways first on Facebook. I got the idea to go to ATMs to charge my devices via Facebook.
Facebook has become an important utility. It’s become a utility like Google. We don’t wonder whether or not Google is cool. Google is too important to us to matter. Facebook has become too important to us, too. I think Facebook has finally jumped the fence, which is really amazing. I can imagine that when TV first came out the device itself was cooler than what was airing. Now the shows matter most. The same thing has happened to Facebook. The people on Facebook and the conversations that happen on Facebook make the experience cool. Whether Facebook is cool doesn’t matter.
I just hope Facebook doesn’t care. Instead of trying to be cool, I hope Facebook just focuses on being really, really useful.
While my 16-year-old nephew hasn’t posted much this past week, he was all over Facebook during Sandy. He was making sure his fellow BMX’ers were okay