Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Too Young For Facebook? Social Network Says Yes to 13 Year-Olds

Hey ’05 high school graduates, remember when we first joined Facebook? Fresh out of high school, it was the cool new network to connect with other freshmen we met at orientation, as well as our high school friends to see where everyone was headed in the Fall. You had to have a “.edu” email address and you couldn’t update your status every 10 seconds. Facebook arrived just in time, too, because MySpace was getting “too emo,” and we were all tired of the sappy songs our friends put as their away messages on AIM. We couldn’t chat with friends, we didn’t plow our fields and we didn’t have to worry about our grandparents commenting on our photos from Saturday night parties. Facebook was meant to replace the actual physical Face Books that college freshman received to learn about their new classmates as a part of orientation. It was simpler then and I miss it.
From an advertising and revenue-generating perspective, it makes sense. And I’m not saying the expansion of Facebook’s almost all-inclusive user base is entirely a bad thing – I enjoy connecting with multiple generations of my family from all over the country. Yesterday, however, the social networking revealed that it is exploring ways to let children under 13-years old join the network – with parental permissions of course.  Is this necessary? Who do they need to network with exactly? If it is for a gaming perspective, there are plenty of other tools and platforms out there. Additionally, there is the risk. There are parental controls, but there are also ways to get around those controls. With all the issues cyber bullying causes, do we really need to provide children with another outlet to potentially taunt one another?
This announcement certainly isn’t helping Facebook’s PR given its advertising problem, arguably its biggest issue right now. How will marketing to children on Facebook help brands? I'm pretty sure their purchasing-decision influence is very low. It seems that Facebook is set on ignoring the advice of almost any tech reporter or blogger out there telling them to stop with all the feature updates. Its simplicity made it popular; its increasing complexity annoys its users. But more importantly, this announcement to potentially include young children goes back to something I blogged about last week, regarding Facebook’s obsession with pleasing the end-user. As end-users, we don’t make Facebook its money – advertisers do. So here’s my message to Facebook – stop ignoring your advertising problem. If it focused as much on its B2B strategy as it does with its B2C strategy, major brands wouldn’t be pulling their marketing dollars from this social giant – poised to be a great ad platform, but failing to capitalize on the opportunity. That’s my PR thought for the day.
A version of this post originally appeared on prSPEAK, a blog by PAN Communications. 

No comments:

Post a Comment