The Facebook Phony

There is little doubt that Facebook is well on its way to becoming the dominant homepage for many online users in the United States.  Not to mention the social network’s slow but steady rise in popularity around the world.

For marketers, it is a basic concept.  We want our message to be in front of as many consumers as possible for the lowest possible price.  Put 350 million people in one place, online or otherwise, and marketers will fall over themselves to hock the value of their product or service.

In the case of Facebook, we know the audience is there, but are they listening to the message?

For example, take our recent tweet from @travel2dot0:

“Facebook users will vote for anything if you ask: Which state will reach 1mil fans first. Did DMOs miss something?”

The tweet is referring to an article about one of the many flavors of the week on Facebook – numerous pages devoted to which US state can gather 1 million fans first.

Alas, these state pages have been created specifically for this contest and do not represent the official DMO Facebook pages.

That said, in less than a month, Texas has amassed more than 714,000 fans in this very unscientific survey.

But what types of users are represented in the 700,000 number?  As a DMO, we want to be friends with all of these users, right? Are these users as valuable as all others?

We have some thoughts on that.  We call them status hoarders.

Of course, there are numerous users within Facebook who are brand advocates for their favorite destination (Breckenridge), coffee shop (Starbucks) or sports car (Ferrari).  We need to be careful not to paint everyone with the same broad brush.

Status Hoarders:  Users who attach themselves to numerous groups, typically relating to a pop culture or fashionable topic, in order to maintain a hip or favorable perception among other users.

Ah, now we are getting somewhere.  As we mentioned in the tweet, users on Facebook (or Twitter for that matter) will vote for anything… Avatar, the Oscars and, apparently, states around the US.

This is a perfect example of how Facebook exaggerates the already existing social tendencies of our culture online.

The majority of us care deeply about the perception of others, how cool we appear and what products, people and things we are associated with – not to mention our inherent competitive nature.

Which brings us back to the state popularity contest on Facebook.  The article asks several questions about the post-vote existence of these pages:

So what happens to these pages after the first state reaches 1 million fans is a good question. Will Facebook roll them into the states’ official pages? Will states try to obtain them and turn them into tourist or government-focused pages?

Um, no thanks. And here is why.

The users who have become fans (ah, such a nice term) of these pages are simply passing through and have no real loyalty or interest in a deeper conversation.

They are, for the most part, status hoarders, voting for their state in one of several non-productive breaks during the work day.  I am pretty sure they also voted for their favorite Jersey Shore cast member, some sort of Star Wars vs Trek debate and probably a celebrity-related fashion question.

No, you can keep those users; DMOs really don’t need fans like that.

(Author’s Note: The article was originally posted under the title ‘Why your Facebook fans are phonies‘ on Tnooz.)

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.