It would have been my mum’s 79th birthday today, and although she missed it by a lot of years, it doesn’t mean her lasting influence over me and how my life has panned out has been any less, and especially now I am a mum myself, trying to carry on some of her wisdom to my own children.
A couple of things have stayed with me more than any others, both sound pieces of advice that apply in many situations. The first one is that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything that you want to in life. The second one is that to succeed at that, you need to stay true to yourself and be authentic in what you do.
Facebook has been in the news a lot this week. The much-anticipated IPO has been put off until late 2012, the Financial Times reported, as Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, wants to wait until next September or later in order to keep employees focused on product development. And news of some of that product development has been generating excitement too, as significant changes seem to be happening on a very regular basis at the moment:
The opt-in subscribe button
This allows you to enable your posts to be read and followed by any Facebook user and is a significant change to the site, introducing a one-way subscription model – like following someone on Twitter or adding someone to a Google+ circle. You can convert fans of a page to subscribers of your news feed, with no number limits and more opportunity to blend your business page offering with your personal profile – opening up the way for celebrities, influencers etc to show more of the ‘whole person’ in one place; it also enables subscribers to choose never to miss one of your posts. While this reflects the latest exciting developments over at Google+ and paves the way for celebrities and key influencers to distribute their news on Facebook, it’s a very long way from the way the majority of Facebook’s users currently use the site and what they use it for – which is still mostly local and informal updates between closed sets of friends.
The creation of smart friends lists
Another response to Google+, or a logical step in the next stage of social networking? This makes selective sharing much easier than the existing groups function ever did, as it makes suggestions about which friends you might want to add to different lists in order to be selective about what you share with whom. When you are creating a new post, you get the option to choose who you are sharing it with, and can amend this each time. Lists, the new circles – they seem to work just like the circles do over on Google+.
Removal of barrier to vanity url
When I set up my Facebook page for marketingondemand, I had to do a fair bit of hustling to get the page up to 25 likes, without the help of a shortcut url with which to tell people about it. This barrier has now been removed, and no matter how many or few likes you have, you can claim your url simply by visiting https://www.facebook.com/username/ and claiming what’s available. Sound familiar to anyone who signed up to Google+?
Regardless of what Facebook releases going forward, it will be compared either favourably or not to the competition of Google+ and Twitter, and whether it has been in release plans for a long time or is a more recent competitor reponse, I would dare to offer them some advice from my old mum – Just be yourself Facebook, respond to the majority of your users and let us continue to know where we are with you, treat us gently through periods of such significant change and make sure that we can understand and adapt to your new developments.
I’ve posted before about the importance of understanding the environment and tone of the different social network sites, and tailoring your messages to each separate audience on them. There are things that one network is good for that doesn’t work on another, and if one site can’t cater to all tastes, is that such a tragedy? Better to have distinct successful sites that do well what they intend to do well, than multiple copies of the same homogenous bunch of features with no differentiation.
So be yourself, Facebook, don’t change yourself simply because of other kids in the playground – you can still be yourself and keep your friends happy, because only you can be you.