On Facebook

Facebook stocks are tanking, for now. Its membership growth is outstripping its revenue growth. And they keep changing the damned interface. What's a social network organizer to do?

Watching the Facebook IPO drama unfold has been fascinating. I haven't written about it yet, but I have talked about it at work and in class. I've been wondering for a while if Facebook has peaked. It seems to have plateaued, at least.

We've known for a while that people are often frustrated by the constant changes to Facebook's platform. Its privacy settings have to be adjusted every time. And the realization that wall posts only reach about 10% of friends/fans newsfeeds dampens enthusiasm for Facebook as a marketing and advocacy channel.

The GM ad pullout reverberated around the commercial advertising industry. GM wasn't getting what it wanted out of its Facebook ads, so they stopped advertising. But they still maintain a strong social presence. Its decision hurt the value of the stock, true, but it also revealed that advertising on Facebook is different from advertising elsewhere.

Facebook is a social space, not a marketplace. Ads on Facebook that work with the social aspects of Facebook work much better than traditional branding and direct sales ad strategies.

The biggest issue with Facebook for me is that it doesn't know what it wants to do for advocacy and political campaigns. With each change to its interface, it swings back and forth between being useful for mobilizing and organizing, to being more suited for personal social networking.

Facebook has tried to position ads and promoted page wall posted as the way for campaigns to reach more people. That helps, but not only do they cost money, but they leave uncertain the interplay between the ads and social engagement. On top of that, the free Facebook tools keep changing, and often times for the worse.

The problem is, if I can't get a firm handle on creating return on investment for my Facebook ads, I am less likely to buy them. When Facebook allows me to clearly map out a campaign that integrates ads and social tactics, with consistent and somewhat predictable outcomes, I'll spend more on their ads

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