Sophie Hatten and Facebook have a complicated relationship, one made worse by the fact that Facebook keeps trying to sell her to herself.
How are you? I’d tell you how I am, but let’s be real, you already know. Instead, I want to reminisce, because I know you’re fond of that. Once upon a time, you were there when I made a decision that changed my life. I packed up half a suitcase, flew halfway across the world and worked for Disneyworld for six months. It feels like forever ago, something that I now mostly mention in my resume to stand out a little bit and occasionally just to show off.
The thing is that if it wasn’t for you, Disneyworld would have stayed something I mentioned in passing. Maybe a photo album in the depths of my closet.
But five years later, you have decided I need to remember how much fun I had. I did a lot of fun things in those six months, a lot of which I wouldn’t remember if it wasn’t for you, Facebook.
After several years, I’m forgetting that there were quite a few times I was miserable there. My roommates touched my stuff without asking, I had to be hospitalised, I cried on the phone to my dad, physically homesick in a way I’d never experienced before.
But you don’t have any pictures of that.
Instead, all you show me is dozens of images where I’m dancing wildly on a night out. There’s an image of me wearing my uniform with all my co-workers at some ungodly morning hour when we all went out for pancakes. There’s a whole album of me going on rides with some of my friends.
I began to ask myself what would do you have to gain from this, why is there a button that encourages me to remind the world of an event a handful of them were there for.
And, like most things in life, it came down to business.
You’re harnessing my memories and selling them back to me as a commodity. Let’s be honest, if I’m just kicking around on your site, I’m probably a little bored and you probably have my full attention. And most advertising people always aim to sell you the most important product: yourself.
There have been multiple studies about how emotive messages in social media are a key component of engagement. Marketers have long known that positive, emotionally driven content gets more engagement. That’s part of the reason those He stood up, and you won’t believe what happened next! posts are so popular.
I suppose there is nothing more emotionally positive to me than pictures of me having fun.
I don’t know if you’d argue that this is the cost of using your service. It’s likely if you told people upfront, your business model would be different.
From a business perspective, I get it, but from my own, it makes me wary. I’m worried that as a company that’s in the business of fostering human connections, you’re seeing me as a product instead of a person. It makes me wonder about the future; if instead of just listening to me, you’re going to sell me “what’s on my mind.”