Facebook Is Not The Internet, Nor Should It Be

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I’m going to go ahead and draw a line in the sand. 

I love Facebook. I’ve been posting there since April 16, 2007. And I believe Facebook should be insanely profitable, but Facebook is not the internet, nor should it be. Chris Smith suggests this in a long status update on Facebook. “The Facebook I see today is now the Internet,” he writes. He posted it on Facebook to highlight his contention. And, with all due respect to Chris, I couldn’t disagree more. And I’m writing my response here, because I believe THIS is the Internet.

If people follow his advice to consider making Facebook their hub, I believe they will be abandoning what the internet was built to be and should be. I was going to write about this at length myself, but John Battelle beat me to it and, quite frankly, he is way more qualified than I’m ever going to be to write with the degree of critical thinking this topic deserves. My reaction to Chris’ post is strong, because I believe that what he’s suggesting here is abandoning the core values of the Internet.

What Are The values? Battelle list them as these:

  • No Gatekeepers
  • An Ethos Of The Commons
  • No Preset Rules Of How Data Is Used
  • Neutrality
  • Interoperability

John writes, “I find it hard to argue with any of the points above as core values of how the Internet should work… But if you look at this list of values, and ask if Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and the thousands of app makers align with them, I am afraid the answer is mostly no. And that’s the bigger issue I’m pointing to: We’re slowly but surely creating an Internet that is abandoning its original values for…well, for something else that as yet is not well defined.”

Not all change is good.

Chris asks at the end of his status update, “Was it really so bad? Could it actually be better for us all that this can be done here in it’s entirety?” It depends on your internet worldview. In my worldview, the answer is decidedly, “no.” I have no desire for Facebook to be the Internet. Absolutely none. What will it take to insure the Internet continues to be a commons?

“It requires that we, as the co-creators of value through interactions, data, and sharing, take responsibility for ensuring that the Internet continues to be a commons, ” Battelle writes.  “I expect this will be less difficult than it sounds. It won’t take a political movement or a wholesale migration from Facebook to more open services. Instead, I believe in the open market of ideas, of companies and products and services which identify the problems I’ve outlined above, and begin to address them through innovative new approaches that solve for them. I believe in the Internet. Always have, and always will.”

To THAT, I say amen. And I strongly encourage you to read the following posts by Battelle in their entirety:

It’s Not Whether Google’s Threatened. It’s Asking Ourselves: What Commons Do We Wish For? – “If we lose the web, well, we lose more than funny cat videos and occasionally brilliant blog posts. We lose a commons, an ecosystem, a “tangled bank” where serendipity, dirt, and iterative trial and error drive open innovation.”

We Need An Identity Re-Aggregator That We Control – “The downsides of not owning your own words, on your own platform, are not limited simply to money. Over time, the words and opinions one leaves all over the web form a web of identity – your identity – and controlling that identity feels, to me, a human right. But unless you are a sophisticated netizen, you’re never going to spend the time and effort required to gather all your utterances in one place, in a fashion that best reflects who you are in the world.”

Put Your Taproot Into The Independent Web – “Facebook knows that independence is critical to the future of the Internet, and has created tools to insure it’s a major player there. My advice: use those tools inside your own presence on the web. But put your taproot into soil that you control, soil that is shared by the millions of other independent voices on the web. That insures you’ll be part of a free and open ecosystem where serendipity and opportunity can create wonderful new possibilities.

Set The Data Free, And Value Will Follow – “f the true value of the economy we are building is to be unlocked, that value has to flow unchecked from one party to another. Were this to be true, differentiation of services would migrate to a higher level of the stack, so to speak. Services would be considered valuable for what they did with data given to them by consumers, rather than by their ability to lock consumer’s data into their proprietary platform. New models would emerge to reward those services for adding that value, and those models would be both more robust, and far larger than the “one ring to rule them all” model currently at play.”

– – – –

Creative Commons photo via Flickr by Steve Rhode

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  1. says

    It seems like Chris Smith has a point…it’s become “our internet” in many ways mostly one-on-one personal engagement, but it shouldn’t be…it’s like having a a big box of crayons, but only using the pink one. It’s pretty, it’s new, it’s the “in-color”…but it’s not going to give you all the variety, opportunities, and accomplishments for your projects that you’d get out of remembering the rest of the box…

  2. says

    Thank you for your thoughtful posting and for including, John’s, too. Yes, the internet needs to be for the commons. It is NOT FB. It will be interesting to get Chris’ feedback after he reviews both of your postings.

  3. says

    Great post!

    But, seriously, this is good stuff, Jeff. I certainly can’t say it any better than you or Mr. Battelle. I’m not so much worried about what will happen to Facebook. In fact, I assume that, at some point, it will either a) cease to exist in its current form, as a social network, or b) cease to exist altogether. I also think that this will occur much sooner than moat people think. The problem is that we can’t see the future, and neither can Facebook. IBM never saw Bill Gates coming. Google never saw Facebook coming. Blackberry never saw the iPhone coming. This is the nature of business, and it is even more pronounced on the web.

    My concern is for those who might actually believe that Facebook WILL be around forever, and therefore let it become their proxy for interacting and sharing on the web. Sure, one could argue that even something like WordPress could become obsolete, and they would be correct. The difference is that I own AND control my WordPress install, so I can take that content down and save it or move it or get rid of it anytime I want to. The same is not true of Facebook. Not only is it not true, but Facebook seems to have zero interest in giving users control over the data that they are creating and sharing.

    The one thing that I found missing from Facebook’s list of things that could adversely affect the comapany was this: Facebook is becoming an Internet choke point. Choke points must be destroyed because, afterall, that is what we did.

    • Jeff Turner says

      Don’t forget MySpace. “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

  4. says

    Ways the internet is better than facebook:

    – I can search it. Fairly accurately.
    – I can link to it based on a set standard
    – It’s open (mostly)
    – I own what I create; if I choose to monetize it, that’s my decision.
    – My tiny corner of the internet is mine; it’s my home. Facebook is not. I *wish* I owned my server, but I rent space. That space is mine, and it’s something I value greatly.
    – For the most part, I know how my personal information is being used when I visit the internet, FB changes their policies to suit them.

    This is an important point – hyperlinks are part of the historical record. Being able to link to a story written 7 years ago is invaluable. Trying to find something written on facebook three days ago, much less 3 years ago is nearly impossible.

    Facebook has become the lowest common denominator, much like AOL …

  5. says

    Wow, didn’t see Chris post that, but I don’t agree!

    Facebook is the popular kid now. It won’t be in a few years. That is a big part of why Mark Z & co are going forward with an IPO now.

    Own your content. Own where you put it too!

  6. says

    LOL the interent is way better than facebook. Besides facebook was replaced by Google+ which was just replaced by Pinterest but Quora is really where it was at unless you are into tumblr.

  7. Tamara says

    I completely concur…Facebook is a safe pond to swim in, but give me the big sea, Baby.

    PS. welcome back from Africa Jeff! xo

  8. says

    I remember opening my mailbox to have yet another AOL CD fall out… week after week. AOL was the best in 1995 and I loved it. I even bumped into Steve Case at the Silver Diner and felt like I was looking at a rock-star!

    People get comfortable in familiar surroundings and Facebook provides that “AOL-style” world in 2012.

    Things change quickly and so will Facebook post IPO.

  9. says

    Not sure if I respond to Jeff or John :)

    Let me clarify a few things that i didnt address on Facebook. Websites and blogs have existed fine and will continue to exist now.

    If anyone thinks the Internet you define isn’t evolving and changing dramatically due to Facebook, I completely disagree.

    Jim Duncan points to back links, TechCrunch doesn’t seem
    to care along with millions of sites running Facbook comments. Flaws in the Facebook UI is also a weak case IMHO as that can obviously be addressed with some simple lines of code.

    I guess I should define what the Internet is to me. I think its okay if we disagree on that. For me it’s the screen I start and spend the most of my day on. For me that’s Facebook. The data backs up that I am not alone.

    Before Facebook the site I stared at the most was Google. Before that AOL.

    That being said I certainly want there to be websites external of Facebook, I write for one for a living so its a topic I certainly care a lot about. More than most bloggers actually because it’s my career.

    One thing I am not willing to concede is that if you want readers for your blog and engagement with consumers Facebook is one of a kind. Even if it’s only for right now…

    • Jeff Turner says

      Yes, we don’t agree on what the Internet is. Mine is quite a bit broader than yours and that’s ok.

      We probably also disagree on how much control we have over what the Internet becomes. I want to exert as much energy as possible to make sure Facebook does NOT become the Internet. I think there is danger in that. You appear to be arguing that we should just give in to and give up our blogs and move everything to Facebook, since it’s easier than having someone click out. Again, that’s not the Internet I want.

      We do agree on one thing, right now, Facebook drives more traffic to a blog than anywhere else. Excellent. That’s why I think they deserve to make ludicrous amounts of money. That doesn’t mean they should be the Internet, either by your definition or mine.

  10. says

    Sorry Jeff one more thought. When Google was the primary way that we found things it was one thing to argue the Internet was everything Google can bring back as a SERP. With my Google and AOL example we were a web driven by pages. Now we are a web driven by people. We also for the first time have everyone from Grandma to 6 year olds who an easily navigate the UI of Facebook. When something like that occurs I am suggesting a good hard look at your strategy and the UI you are offering. Meaning if as I pointed out, many are simply clicking away from the News Feed to read something and then coming back to comment. The reason of course is almost every Facebook user is comfortable commenting on Facebook. Very few are on blogs themselves. I think the Internet should be define as where the most real people spend the most time and have the most conversations. Maybe Facebook is the Hub of the Internet. But from what every class I have seen we are taught our site is the Hub. I am more than anything challenging this model as being effective.

    • Jeff Turner says

      Can Facebook be a hub? Sure. And if that’s how you define “Internet,” then we’ll just have to agree to disagree, as I said above.

      Can someone effectively make Facebook their hub right now. Sure. Will it be more effective than owning their hub and driving traffic to it from Facebook? It could be, but there is certainly no guarantee.

      There are so many things you can’t do with a FB personal page. You can do almost anything with a FB business page, but they are harder to create interaction with, much like it’s harder to create interaction on your blog.

      You simply can’t do certain things essential to most businesses on your personal Facebook page, and that’s where all this conversation is taking place. That’s where grandma is. So, for most businesses, to actually DO business, they’re going to have to push them away from the place where conversation is taking place, either to a FB business page or to another place that does give them those capabilities.

  11. says

    I also think real time is critical to the web right now. Had these 3 comments been made on Facebook they wouldn’t have awaited moderation! I think we live in a world
    where a fluid stream of info matters as well.

    And yes we moderate comments I am being hypocritical by saying this.

    • Jeff Turner says

      Yes, but the beauty is that in our own spaces, we get to make that decision. Real time, on this post, is irrelevant, in my opinion. If this conversation isn’t worth having tomorrow, it’s not worth having today. :)

  12. says

    “Trying to find something written on facebook three days ago, much less 3 years ago is nearly impossible.” — Jim Duncan

    Amen. I have blog posts written almost seven years ago that people still find (via Google) every day and that still make the phone ring or cause an email to be sent.

    I can’t find something on Facebook that I *know* exists not long after it’s posted. It’s a transient “What’s on your mind?” kind of place.

    Just look at some of the popular Facebook groups for real estate. People ask the same questions over and over and over because they can’t find the answers to their questions that were posted 30 minutes ago.

    I *hope* that isn’t “the internet,” and I hope that’s not what the internet becomes.

    And Chris, if the Internet is defined as the site you begin your day on and spend the most time on, then clearly the internet is not Facebook. It’s PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com…

    • Jeff Turner says

      Jay, I’ll say it again here, you simply can’t do certain things essential to most businesses on your personal Facebook page and getting the same kind of easy interaction that you get on a personal page on a business page is often as much work as getting it on a blog.

      Many people, especially real estate agents, have failed to get any traction on their Facebook business pages, just as they’ve failed to get traction on their blogs. We should not confuse the ease of getting comments on a post asking what shoes you should wear, with getting people act on a business message.

      • says

        I agree. Completely.

        And let’s not confuse “Likes” and comments and Retweets and “pins” with getting people to act on a business message. The vast (and I mean VAST) majority of people that wind up as our clients never Like, Tweet, comment or otherwise “interact” directly on the site.

        They call and email.

        • Tamara Dorris says

          I agree with this Jay.
          Unlike many, I don’t use FB for a Realtor thought leader inpu…I get business there. In fact, I have listings, sales and pending from Facebook, Linkedin and twitter (1.3 million listings right now from one twitter pal). But what you said, for the most part, is true for me.

          These clients didn’t like, RT or comment very much, IF AT ALL. They just show up in my message box asking me about houses.

          Hope you guys are all doing well.


    • says

      Well said Jay.

      One of the things that really pisses me off is the lack of a good search for Twitter. There are many links, conversations, etc that I KNOW I’ve had, that I’d LOVE to find again, but have no clue how.

      However, when I want to find something I KNOW has occurred on my blog, I just go type a few keywords into Google — and voila — I find the post/comment thread within a few seconds usually.

  13. says

    “Jim Duncan points to back links, TechCrunch doesn’t seem to care along with millions of sites running Facbook comments.”

    They may be caring right now. Ironically, Facebook Commenting is down across the internet at this very moment…

    (And to say TC doesn’t care about backlinks because they use Facebook comments is a pretty weak argument Chris.)

  14. says

    It all depends on what you use the internet for. Try learning some new skill using facebook. Try looking for tutorials on how to cook something new or how to solve a programming issue or any useful skill that would make you a better person. Find a place to eat on facebook or map an address. It’s almost impossible and that what the internet should be in my opinion: a place to share knowledge and to better ourselves.

    Facebook is great for interaction and communication and it’s beauty is in the ability to connect with people from all around the world, people with which you’ve lost contact decades ago, people that before you couldn’t get a hold of otherwise.

    But then the more people you connect with the more you get drawn into spending time on facebook, time which ends up being wasted, time that you take away from the real life…

    This t-shirt wisdom quote: “Having an iPhone has completely changed the way I poop” should be rephrased to “Facebook has completely changed the way I poop”

    • Jeff Turner says

      There are so MANY things Facebook can’t do, especially in the context Chris writes about, the context of the personal Facebook profile.

  15. says

    I think it’s clear to see that the meaning of ‘Internet’ is different for everyone. (lol! @ Jay!)

    Dictionary.com defines it as:

    “(sometimes with a capital) the internet Also known as: the Net, the single worldwide computer network that interconnects other computer networks, on which end-user services, such as World Wide Web sites or data archives, are located, enabling data and other information to be exchanged.”

    So this is my take on this debate:

    Internet ► a global network that connects all other COMPUTER networks for sharing websites, information, and data.

    Hub ► (Facebook for example) ► center of a more personal network that connects PEOPLE in a more social and personal way, for sharing ideas, interests, & information.

    ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼

    A ‘stop’ (blog or website) on the internet, as Jay pointed out, is more static, even though the content may not be. And that’s really what it is… a container for CONTENT creation that may or may not elicit conversation (or comments).

    A personal hub (like Facebook) is a birth place for CONVERSATIONS that actually produce the CONTENT which is shuffled and recycled by the response that it gets from the users… in real time.

    There’s certainly more spontaneous and immediate social gratification with Facebook conversations than is possible with website inquiries or blog comments. ‘Live Chat’ services try to replicate or mimic that immediate and real time connection on blogs and websites… but fail miserably in my opinion.

    Each of our different interpretations and opinions is what makes ANY intelligent conversation so damn fun! :) (imho)

  16. says

    Jeff as my post inspired yours the comments that have followed have inspired this thought. Looking at who has commented here I feel
    it furthers my claim. It’s like Cheers here Jeff everyone knows your name. Thats not an open place anymore than Facebook in fact its not even close. Where are the 100+ people who were pretty supportive of the shift i described originally? Where is their voice here? It isn’t. Here we have bloggers and thought leaders commenting on a blogger and thought leader post. To me this is not what real businesses you mention are looking for or should seek. They are looking to get their marketing in front of the lurkers and Joe America. Not the bloggers who call me out for a poor Tech Crunch backlink reference or guys who work for social media monitoring tool companies cracking Pinterest jokes. I’m happy to do rebuttals all day I love blogs and the comments and the discussions like this one. I especially like them when they are important and respectful like this one is. That being said I do not consider this particular post and the comments that have followed to be the Internet you describe anymore than “the Internet” I wrote About directly on Facebook and my “post” there.

    • Jeff Turner says

      Chris, I think they are both part of the Internet. And this is as open as Facebook. Please don’t be fooled, it’s Cheers on your post on Facebook too. There you have mostly Realtors commenting on a Realtor thought leader post. How is that different? I don’t think it is. By the way, everyone knows your name here too. :) (Well, except for maybe Anton.)

      Again, we don’t need to agree. I don’t need your rebuttal. I don’t think we’re going to see eye to eye on this one and that’s ok. I don’t need to be right. This is just my opinion. In the long run, it’s my opinion that it would be a HUGE mistake for people to follow your direction and start writing exclusively on Facebook. Not just for them, but for the Internet in general.

      It appears we’ll have to find something else to agree upon.

    • says

      Chris, my Pinterest joke was really intended for Jeff. :) I understand where you and Jeff are both coming from. So much of my day is spent behind the fortress wall of Facebook. But there are still many hours spent elsewhere (YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest :), TechCrunch, InmanNext (yes I watched that damn video of your interview with the ARG CEO!) and many, many other destinations.

      The way I look at the “internet world” is like this: push vs pull. What I mean is if my “internet” (I don’t know why I keep using air quotes?) was limited to Facebook, I would be limited to the amount and type of content that entered into that destination. Granted there would be some incredible and awesome conversation, links, photos, humor, etc. But at the end of the day, I would have to rely on my Facebook community (which rocks by the way) for the information I consumed.

      In the “internet world” Jeff speaks of I’m able to make the decisions. I choose what I want to consume. What I want to watch. Who I want to interact with. I have total control and total freedom. That’s the “internet world” I want to live in. And yes, Facebook will definitely be a part of that world.

  17. says

    Chris – sorry you felt I was “calling you out”. But surely you realize if you are going to post something along the lines of “Facebook is the Internet” that you are going to get people that disagree. Heck, you even ended your post with “please let me know how far off my rocker I am…” “Calling you out” Sorry, but referencing TC’s use of Facebook Commenting to backlinks just lost me completely, I can’t see the connection.

    As for where are the people that supported the shift you described, they are certainly free to come here and comment. I’m sure Jeff would welcome them. Of course regular readers of Jeff are more likely to comment here. It popped up in my feed reader, so I read it and commented. I’m not really seeing how that furthers your claim.

    Curious, are your Facebook privacy settings set wide open so that anyone, even someone who is not a FB friend or subscriber, can comment on your Facebook wall? The reason I ask is because unless they are, and unless every FB user has their privacy settings wide open, how can FB truly be “The internet”? It’s a closed system. For me, that’s the last thing I want the internet to be…

  18. says

    Jay I didn’t feel calle out sorry it read that way as it should have it said that. I wrote it more that way to try to reiterate that you and I and Derek and Jeff and Daniel and Teresa are not the regular web browser. They are over there on the dark side all day known as Facebook. They don’t even know what Tech Crunch or seeing a post in a feed means. It’s Greek to them. They understand like. They understand a news feed. Even on your blog Jay I would guess you get 100’s more calls from
    consumers than comments from consumers. I think there is a have your cake and eat it too scenario. I am open to discovering it with open arms. I just think the strategy will be more reliant on how you get people to the hub than the hub.

    • says

      Chris, do you think that going forward people will continue to use FB as much as you see it used today?
      I know that I have seen a huge drop off in active use from the under 30 crowd, the first people to get on it (most of these people got on it while in school).

      • says

        Ben for me the people I work with are not too concerned with the under 30 crowd. They will be and should keep an eye on them but the bulk of people who will make them money in this life are not teenagers now.

        • Benjamin Bach says

          They should be, my generation has been the online trendsetters, and typically people dont want to hang out where the cool kids *aren’t*

          If you think FB is the internet, look at the history of myspace.

        • says

          Chris – Seriously? ” … the people I work with are not too concerned with the under 30 crowd …”

          Now is the time to be building trusted relationships with the under-30 crowd so that in 6 years they’ll not even think about going anywhere else.

          Under-30 folks also influence their parents’ decisions and decision-making processes. From a real estate perspective, today’s under-30s are likely going to be managing/selling the (real) estates of their parents when they pass away.

          Not being too concerned with the under-30s is incredibly short-sighted.

          There are millions(?) of sites that have existed for much longer than facebook or myspace or twitter or … my phone number has been the same for 13 years and while I have a google voice # as well, I haven’t made it my primary # because I want to have as much control as possible over my business. Ceding said control to a facebook is terribly trusting.

          • says

            Jim to think that you or I or Ben or Jeff can teach anyone how to connect with the next generation of anything is probably not accurate. Many have pointed out the unknown is why Facebook is vulnerable. Blackberry didn’t see iPhone etc. how can we know how to prepare for how 17 year olds will buy homes? I think that is impossible to do. Sorry.

    • says

      Facebook’s content is full of links out to the rest of the world. What people are commenting and sharing and conversing about on FB is content that is largely somewhere else. They are clicking OUT of FB to read Tech Crunch or whomever else has written the content that appeals to them. The very nature of FB as an aggregator of links/content and a means to share conversation on it is fb’s appeal. It is a FILTER through which many people view the rest of the internet. Traffic to my blog from FB increased 300% between 2009 and 2010, and another 50% in 2011 (clearly I refined my sharing methods in 2010).

      Getting the marketing in front of Joe America means hosting it elsewhere (where the content is richer) and sharing it into their social stream on Facebook, which is their jumping off point for the internet.

      (and we aren’t just bloggers and thought leaders, we are the ones consistently closing business because of these methods and content channels.)

        • says

          LOL, of course not. I have audiences in numerous places. Facebook is a fantastic tool to reach consumers. So is twitter, so is the Washington Post (for me). Facebook plays a HUGE role in my marketing/content strategy, but it’s not the ONLY role. I do focus a ton of time and energy there, but it’s in conjunction with efforts in other places. Having a well thought out marketing strategy means not putting all my online eggs in one basket. :)

  19. says

    I agree with you 100%.

    You know what I love about the Internet, I get to learn about what I want to learn about when I want to learn about it.

    The Internet has enrich this old country boy’s life like nothing else outside of God n Family!

    I get to learn from people like yourself who are so willing to share.

    Thank You for speaking up!

    Mike Parker

  20. says

    The internet is bigger than business and real estate and facebook.

    This morning, I saw on facebook that some folks had read a story on the washington post (a “feature” that I don’t like) … but I wanted to read it, so I clicked the link and it took me to an approval page for the app to read the link. I don’t want that … so I went to the internet, searched for the headline and then read the article.

    Great (and bad) things happen because of the internet – look at the Green Revolution in Iran – which was facilitated by the internet. (for fun, search the internet and facebook for “Green Revolution” – proof that FB is not the internet).

    Facebook is a great hub (spoke?) on the internet, but it’s not the internet.

    • Jeff Turner says

      Obviously, I could not agree more.

      But I’m also not willing to agree that Facebook should be my central hub, the place from which I originate my content. Facebook is at best A hub, and in truth, a spoke. And quite frankly, this conversation is making me want to create tools that help people do on their own sites what they now must turn to third party sites to do.

  21. says

    One of the comments after Chris’ FB post was from an agent who decided to write her next “blog post” on Facebook now that she know about the 5,000 rule.

    Big mistake. Your blog isn’t dead!

    I have two year-old blog posts that get hit daily thanks to Google. I know that because my “Lijit” plugin shows me that fact. Those consumers sitting in Panera eating lunch are gonna use Google to answer their top-of-mind questions. Not Facebook.

    If you are not a total WP geek (like most of the people here), create a decent WP blog and use the “Networked Blogs” app to pump your posts onto your FB wall/page. It will then link back to your blog.

    Facebook is only part of the Web.

    • Jeff Turner says

      Doug, Chris seems to be changing his stance from “Facebook is the Internet” to “Facebook should be your hub.” Unfortunately, that’s not what his post said. His post encourages people to not write on their blog, but instead, write their posts directly on their personal Facebook pages. In the long run, that is a mistake. Can they get the same benefit right this moment? Perhaps. But I think you’d find your interactions with the average Facebook user would decline if that became common practice.

  22. says

    While all of you tech savvy bloggers and vendors for Realtors debate the issue of what is and is not the internet, some of us are actually getting tangible lead conversion from their Facebook methodology. Using FB groups (NOT-pages!) and also combining that with off line interactions with potential buyers and sellers, I have accelerated lead conversion because people now know me and like me and trust me. I use the chat feature of Facebook and interact there as well. The FB group in the neighborhood that I live in was not even started by me, but over the past 9 months or so, I have actively participated and believe it or not, I have 3 listing appointments this weekend here. Real estate is not a house business, it’s a people business and Facebook allows potential clients to view you as a person and not just a one dimensional Realtor. Combining Facebook with Youtube is also a powerful way to engage. I also us Facebook now as a replacement for my RSS feed because of the tech savvy friends here. That is how I found this blog post. I am in 3 video groups on Facebook too and those are an extremely useful tool.

      • says

        Chris, prior to Facebook I had never heard of you, Jay, Derek, Jeff or others. You had all been blogging WAY before I knew about you, but frankly it is through Facebook that I have watched you and learned from you and that is exactly what I see happening now with my potential clients. They’d never heard or cared about me much before Facebook. Like me, these people were busy with there lives and not out there searching for content on the internet. They were just trying to keep up with their daily lives. With Facebook, they relax and unwind and get to know people. The barriers between “sales” and “leads” has evolved into Friends. People listen to and trust Friends. Facebook has done that. Not the internet. I will always use WordPress and have my own content, but the true engagement stems from the application of Facebook to the other systems.

      • says

        Thanks Chris! I see you have caused quite a controversy here! I will say one thing that sort of makes your point. It wasn’t the Internet that brought down several Middle Eastern regimes. It was Facebook and Twitter. However, control over our content needs to be preserved so WordPress is a better place to post your original material. Content curation and sharing and affinity marketing can best be done through Facebook. I use Facebook as a replacement for my RSS feeds and read most of my news from Facebook. That is how I found this post, so in that way, you are correct. What I have learned from all of you techie peeps has certainly helped me grow my biz in a way that would not have been possible without Facebook because I would not have found you guys! (and girls!)-LOL

        • Jeff Turner says

          No it wasn’t the Internet that brought down the regimes, it was the open Internet that enabled it. Twitter was actually the keystone of the communication. The Internet can’t be owned by any one company, shouldn’t be owned by any one company. The world is a better place because of the interoperability of these different nodes on the Internet. It allows us to communicate in ways we never dreamed imaginable and that’s way more than Facebook. It’s Twitter and Pinterest and Linkedin and Flickr and Google+ and Tumblr and WordPress. We are living in an amazing time. Amazing. We should do everything in our power to protect the values that allowed this to spring forth.

          • says

            I agree about the amazing time for sure. Also, I intuitively think that Pintarest is gonna be the new Facebook. I always trust my intuition. I was doing videos for Real Estate in 2006 (case in point)- AND I of course know that you were too! LOL

        • says

          Sue –

          Without the internet, there is no facebook or twitter or Tor or any of communications tools that run on the internet’s infrastructure.

          And what brought down the Middle East regimes was neither the internet nor Facebook – it was the people using the tools available to them that brought them down. :)

    • Benjamin Bach says

      Sue, the internet has made it possible for potential clients to get to know you before doing business with you (and that’s great). Facebook is just the popular site that they’re using do to that, now. FB is just one more popuplar site that will eventually not be as popular.

      • says

        Benjamin…you need to check out Pintarest cuz that will be the new Facebook. Mark my words. In the meantime I will continue to use Facebook and WordPress and REAL LIFE to engage and empower my potential future clients and my past clients so that I continue to evolve. Realtors need to adapt or die. http://youtu.be/T2dlmtDIqQw-Watch this link to my goofy video about “The Vanishing Realtorasaur” to see my point.

        • Benjamin Bach says

          Yes, I’ve seen how much people like Pinterest, and I think it has a lot to do with Facebook. Marketers have ruined facebook. Pinterest is, for now, shared content from users, not marketing blasts, so people would rather spend time consuming pinned itmes there, vs navigating the self promotional party that FB seems to turn into

        • Jeff Turner says

          And my contention is that even if Pinterest becomes the new Facebook, someone needs to be creating content to be pinned.

          • says

            Working on it as we speak! Jeff-LOL Pintarest can drive traffic to your site and because it is visual, if your pix and videos are tagged correctly it is going to be very helpful. I just put an architectural page on my WordPress site for homes I have sold with some amazing pix and am pinning them. In the space of 1 hour, they are being shared and pinned and people are following me. I think I could be onto something. You should try it out and see what you think-I’d love your opinion!

    • Jeff Turner says

      Sue, nobody here is arguing that Facebook isn’t extremely valuable. Exactly the opposite, like Chris, I think they should become insanely profitable as a result. Real estate is a people business and there are more people on Facebook than anywhere else, so you darn sure better be there if you’re in real estate.

      What I’m saying is this… don’t abandon your blog and website to post ONLY on Facebook. He’s saying, stop posting on EllerTheSeller.com and write your posts on Facebook. That’s what Chris was making a case for. I think that would be a mistake. Doing everything you talk about in your comment is not. Obviously.

      • says

        Jeff, I agree with you and what is interesting is that I have just only recently began to blog and have a WordPress site. I will now integrate them by using Facebook as a hub to drive people to my site and to my Youtube videos. However, I think there is absolutely no better way to leverage affinity marketing than using Friends lists on Facebook. I try to tailor the niche of my business as a Realtor to those in the entertainment industry because I used to be in that biz. Facebook has allowed this type of targeted approach to be WAY more possible. I will post on my blog, but my personality is what comes across on Facebook. I think that is the true power of the platform, if properly channeled.

      • says

        Derek, Thanks! And as for your Pintarest “joke”-I think you may actually be correct. Facebook and Pintarest can be time sucking, but can also be efficient if you know what you are doing and focus with laser like precision. However, that said, I agree with someone here who said it’s not the medium, it’s the message.

  23. says

    This whole MySpace argument amazes me. When the mass exodus you all predict occurs wouldn’t the time spent nurturing relationships be more important than ever? Wouldn’t Facebook be the best place to build

    • Benjamin Bach says

      No. Build a permission marketing asset you own. Use Facebook to help build that, along with many other tools & sites.

      Telling real estate agents (or other solopreneurs) to leave a platform they can own & control for one they have no control over is not good advice

    • Jeff Turner says

      Chris, you’re changing your argument. And that’s ok, if you’re doing it on purpose. Personally, I think you’re argument needs to change.

      Your argument was to just post to Facebook, not your blog. You weren’t arguing for increasing your focus on Facebook, you were arguing for Facebook as THE place. That’s what I’m arguing against.

      Nobody is arguing against using Facebook to nurture relationships. That would be ridiculous. That’s not what you were talking about. That was NOT your argument.

      • says

        Jeff what I like about you is that you can change people’s opinions and thoughts. What I don’t like about most of the interaction here is that people have a black or white view. It’s exactly what I wrote about and how you started this post do eloquently! I don’t draw lines in the sand. For me personally today Facebook is the web. I’m not as worried as many here about owning things. I’m more concerend with selling things, as are most Realtors I meet who are looking to improve their marketing.

        • says

          Chris – of course Realtors are concerned about selling homes. But if they aren’t concerned about owning and controlling their content and their “hub” on the Internet, they are making a grave mistake.

        • Jeff Turner says

          Chris, sometimes lines need to be drawn. The line in the sand is this… you encouraged people to simply give up their blogs, to post directly on Facebook, to not lead people away. I didn’t say that, you did. That was the point of your doing a really long status update. I don’t think I’m misreading you, but I could be. So, based on this comment, are you really saying that posting only on Facebook and not leading people to their websites would be a better way to sell real estate right now? I don’t think you really believe that. That’s the line I’m drawing.

          As a guy who sells things to real estate agents, you might be able to make Facebook your web, you won’t, but you might be able to. But a real estate agent needs the rest of the Internet and the tools it provides to help them do that, and they need effective strategies for how to use all of those tools in concert to improve their marketing. You know that already. I’m not trying to be pedantic.

          And if all you were saying is that Facebook is a really important place for engaging with people who might become or already have become clients… then I agree.

        • Jeff Turner says

          And Chris, you may not like the interaction here, but the fact is, it’s happening here, not on Facebook. And it’s a good conversation. I’m actually surprised you don’t like it.

          • says

            I love it. My argument is it is uncommon for most blogs to get this and the fact that it is directly happening based around the original post on Facebook I think strengthens both of our sides!

  24. says

    Love this discussion and I love Facebook AND the internet as a whole.

    But I swear I still get more business sitting down to drink a Guinness at a LOCAL bar, and striking up a good conversation.

    Not sitting behind the computer at all…People forget about REAL life. 😉

    • says

      Lori, while you were at the bar, I was just chatting on the Facebook chat this morning and have wrangled another listing appointment. I swear I am NOT making this up! -Crazy! AND awesome. However, I do concede that I met this person in real life at an open house about a year ago.

    • says

      “But I swear I still get more business sitting down to drink a Guinness at a LOCAL bar, and striking up a good conversation.”

      Real life is where it’s at. Next time I’m in Charlotte, we are definitely going to sit and chit chat over Guinness.

  25. Benjamin Bach says

    Telling people to put content on FB (instead of a blog) is like telling people to skate to where the puck is, not where it is going.

  26. says

    Jeff I’m curious. You know as well as I do many agents have for lack of a better term failed with the Internet model you describe. Many of those who failed with their own websites are seeing significant return from Facebook which is more fun and less complicated for them
    than say WordPress. What would you say to them?

    • Jeff Turner says

      Congratulations. And I’d say they’re not doing it with Facebook alone. If they are, they are the rare exception. In fact, in my experience, more agents are seeing big success without Facebook than with Facebook. Facebook is not the driver of the most successful real estate agents in the business.

      • says

        Number one income stream is past clients and referrals. Is a website or Facebook better for staying top of mind? Not sure but I lean towards Facebook. Number 2 was website number 3 was social media presence. If that is how we define success today then Jeff you are right. The fact that the number one, two and three income creators for $100k earners all tie into Facebook to me says a lot. Especially considering if we would have asked the exact same question 5 years ago social media would not have even been an option.

  27. says

    The other thing I am curious to hear the groups thoughts on is UI which no one has addressed. In a perfect world were Facebook wasn’t evil etc do you guys think it is a better user experience to not have to click through to read content?

        • Jeff Turner says

          Yes, the user experience is not ideal right now, but it’s more because of Facebook’s self imposed limitations than whether I have to click on a link to see a post. In fact, on the mobile side, if I’m interfacing with Facebook via my iPhone app, I don’t even feel like I’m leaving FB. The browser is part of the app. When I’m at the desktop, I expect to be lead away to place that provide an experience that FB can’t and shouldn’t provide. What you’re calling a “perfect” will never exist. That’s not the way the Internet works.

  28. says

    Curious as to what percentage of those agents finding “success” on Facebook are violating the Facebook TOS by posting listings and other business related activities on their Facebook Profiles vs a Page? I see this a LOT, and those violating the TOS are walking a fine line between “success” and having the plug pulled on their internet presence.

    Just yesterday I saw two local large franchise offices that were using Profiles as a business page. They’re going to get caught, it’s a matter of when, not if.

  29. says

    Isn’t Facebook a tool, just like any of the social tools (Pinterest, Twitter, etc.) that are out there? We have the choice and ability to create the internal communities of our choosing, and socialize, share and enjoy to our hearts content, for whatever motives or agendas each individual has. Some are great at Facebook, others at their websites..(most don’t analyze the success of either with great accuracy) …but without the “Internet”, we wouldn’t have a choice to use what works for us, and move on to the new things that are developed that might be better.

    (Most agents don’t do Facebook well..thank goodness I have other means of finding information on who they are.) :)

    And Chris, look how quickly it got frustrating to weed through information on the What Should I Spend My Money on Group? Facebook right now, does not have a feasible way to search and organize content. If you didn’t have the Internet, Frugyl.com would not have had a place to be. It resides outside Facebook.

    Great convo either way:)

      • says

        Every change Facebook makes (or fixes) usually comes with another set of challenges..or at least a small learning curve. It’s how the Gurus on the Internet stay in business. (when we don’t want to figure it out by ourselves, because I’d rather have fun being social :)

    • Jeff Turner says

      Excellent points, Laura. And there are many other things Facebook can’t do right now, and will probably never do in the future. Even Zynga, which built it’s massive empire on Facebook is moving to other platforms. It’s the nature of the beast. And, yes, this is a great conversation. Thanks for joining it.

  30. says

    Also, for those of you bent on owning all your stuff which I can certainly appreciate. What if Facebook allowed exporting of all content you added and allowed you to take it to WordPress or Posterous etc? How would that change your opinion? And if it does do you not think Facebook would allow that for business Pages at least at some point?

        • says

          OK, even if FB allowed me to export data I create there and keep it somewhere else, it wouldn’t change my opinion.

          I don’t see any value to me using FB as my main “home on the web” vs my blog/website.

          I share my content on FB (why wouldnt you!), and I’ve been on it longer than any other real estate agent I know (try me). It has gotten so far away from what it was intended to be – a social network for friends – that I don’t see myself going back to using it more.

          • Jeff Turner says

            In addition, FB would have to add a whole slew of features and allow me to conduct commercial activities by my own rules. That is also not going to happen.

          • Jeff Turner says

            Jimmy, I knew this was possible, but I’ve never taken the time to download mine and look at the format it arrives in. I am now awaiting the archive ready email and I’m going to give it a look. It doesn’t change anything for me, relative to this discussion, but I’m interested in seeing how it comes packaged. Thanks for the link.

    • Jeff Turner says

      That would be great. If Facebook was like WordPress, it would make me happy. If that happens, I’ll start believing in the Tooth Fairly again. :)

      • says

        Jeff I am confident the same was said at one point about Google. “They will never pay bloggers for ads on their site. Enter Adwords. If you don’t think Facebook has an Adwords equivalent in the pipeline for guys like us to make money inside of their ecosystem I think you may be wrong. Of course that only time will tell!

        • Jeff Turner says

          Chris, this is one thing I’d love to be wrong about. But I also believe that move would have unpredictable consequences. Ecosystems are delicate things.

          • says

            Facebook is sitting pretty in this regard Jeff. They have watched AOL, MySpace and Google before them and watched how they were chipped away at and eventually demonopolized, why wouldn’t they be better at making adjustments than anyone before them? Oh and by the way a failing MySpace and the AOL that collapsed and the Google I am saying is being a bit replaced by right now, they all take all of our asses to the bank right now in terms of revenue, page views, time on site etc… we as bloggers and Twitterers sit back and discuss which is great and certainly AOL could have done better but are they not right now very well positioned? Don’t you think MySpace still can make an insane profit even if they are “only the #157 website in the world”. All that being said I certainly see your side and the main reason I wrote what I wrote is that Facebook entering an IPO is going to be dragged across the coals in the court of public opinion as greedy and the like. My 1,554 word status update will not change that.

          • Jeff Turner says

            You’d hope they’d be better at making adjustments than those who came before. I hope they are, I really do. They’re not alone, however. Everyone stands on those shoulders today, not just Facebook. And still others stand on Facebook’s shoulders.

            They’ve made great strides in dealing with Reed’s Law. The law basically says that the value of social networks depend on how well they handle the formation of smaller sub-groups, not just on how they facilitate connections between individuals. And their change to groups has moved them forward, but it’s still not the future. I guarantee we have no clue what that is going to look like. But if I were a betting man, I’d bet on science. I’d bet that it will be a system that facilitates self-forming networks born from chaos. :) Tools that don’t exist today will facilitate it.

            So, Facebook can make all the changes they like. We’re fickle. The next great surge in social networking will likely free us all from having to rely on any one “place” to communicate with the groups we want to connect with. We’re going to have a lot more control. Facebook is going to make a lot of money. And they should. But they’re not even close to being the perfect social network. Something else is coming. Count on it.

    • says

      I think we already have this ability..I can post to a WordPress site, just as easily as Facebook..why not do both? Facebook doesn’t have the SEO power yet to stand alone..so I wouldn’t just rely on Facebook..plus it doesn’t give me the creative freedom to format or organize content to suit the clients I’m looking for. Aesthetically, Visual Context..I like having my content look different than others. But that’s me, I’m not a real estate agent :)

    • says

      “What if Facebook allowed exporting of all content you added and allowed you to take it to WordPress or Posterous etc? ”

      That would be sweet in theory. But WordPress/Posterous/etc wouldn’t have the faintest idea what to do with my “friendship data”.

  31. says

    Chris, last week a friend of mine said this, and I think it sums up what many younger people think about Facebook:

    “Ben, remember the old “The Facebook” that we used to connect between U of T students? Before all the BS games, apps, and odd people updating their status so frequently? … I miss that old Facebook.”

  32. says

    I love, love, love the interweb and its parts. I follow tech companies and tech news like they are sports or soap operas (same thing to me).

    The reality for me is that I experience the internet mostly via Facebook. In my world the conversation and the community is on Facebook. Of course there is conversation elsewhere but Facebook is the place where conversation and community turns real in my life and in my business. Call it whatever you want, connection happens there, context happens there and because of that communities are born and I love me a community.

    I’m grateful for all of the blogs out there that contribute to my day and my week (thanks guys) but I read most of them via links in facebook. I don’t spend nearly as much time in my RSS reader as days gone by. That said, I think Pinterest, where many start and end their day, is total blogmeat. New pins with context are the commodity (IMHO) and new pins come from creating or finding content on blogs. Pinterest in many ways is the platform that is anti-platform, isn’t it?

    My thoughts may be really short-term and short-sighted but the reality is I’m not spending a lot of time working the long-tail I’m just psyched that someone is interested in chasing my tail today.

    • Jeff Turner says

      The Internet is a wonderful place, with lots of great little spots to hang out and engage. I’m with you, I love Facebook. Some of my best connections come via Facebook, but not only on Facebook. Yammer, for example, is a place I visit many, many times per day, with a vastly smaller network of very close friends. We use it for work as well. The Internet is big.

      And I love the term “blogmeat.” :)

  33. Stephanie Crawford says

    Man, this post has some legs! I love this thread. Jeff is the zen monk deep in thought, Chris is the salesman full of youthful energy, Jay is the wise soothsayer….

  34. Jeff says

    After reading all of the comments I had to go back and make sure of the original point/counterpoint of these posts:

    Point- ‘Facebook is the *new internet*’ or some such.
    Counterpoint- ‘Facebook is not the Internet, it is a platform/hub/spoke/place on the internet. The Internet is a set of principles and values’.

    Not sure how those points positioned against each other are even up for debate… which is likely why one side of the comment stream turned into a confusing exercise of deflection and points of conjecture.

    One comment in particular from Chris colored me bemused until I thought about it for 2 seconds:

    “Jeff what I like about you is that you can change people’s opinions and thoughts. What I don’t like about most of the interaction here is that people have a black or white view. It’s exactly what I wrote about and how you started this post do eloquently! I don’t draw lines in the sand. For me personally today Facebook is the web. I’m not as worried as many here about owning things. I’m more concerend with selling things, as are most Realtors I meet who are looking to improve their marketing.”

    It is what we covet that drives our actions…

  35. Danny Dietl says

    Chris, I’ve gotten to know you a little through FB and the real estate groups. The groups have been interesting, I’ve learned a lot, met some great people, but at the end of the day a lot of time has been wasted there as well. There is an endless stream of do this, try that, this works, stop doing this immediately and so on. As much really bad advice as good advice. In as many ways as its made my business better it’s also made it more complicated. Im making it a point to spend dramatically less time on FB. I was really surprised to see you recommend we blog on FB. I’ve had people tell me my 5 line status updates were too long. Post a blog on FB and it will sink like a stone to the bottom of the FB ocean never to be seen again. I think for the average user the quote below applies to a lot of people. I’m not a blogger heavy weight like most here, but just my thoughts.

    Matthew Crowe, Founder/CEO, Ahhha.com: It’s time is short-lived. It provides no “real” value and while Zuck claims to bring people “together” on FB, it in fact is making people less and less connected in actuality.

  36. says

    I agree more with Jeff, but I still understand Chris’ position.

    Facebook is becoming the starting point and ending point (and everything in between) for most people. This reminds me of back in the day when Google/Yahoo/AOL/MSN/alta vista/etc wanted you to click the button to make them your “home page”.

    Facebook is the new home page. I think this is a better description of what Chris means when he says “Facebook is the Internet”

    Where Jeff is coming from is that people run their whole business/life inside of Facebook (and people telling them or implying to do this) but they do not realize that all that work is NOT theirs. Quoting Scoble “Facebook is the Data Roach Motel” …. Data gets in but it never gets out. I know of two businesses in my town that their only web presence is Facebook. This is where the problems come in; when Facebook becomes the dead zone just like MySpace became and then said businesses will have to start all over again to rebuild their client lists / contact methods / etc. Now by then it could be possible to export your life from Facebook to the “new shiny” but history tells us the Facebook will not allow the data to leave.

    Scoble had a great post today basically on this same topic and it seems that he more agrees with Chris where “Normal users don’t care about this argument anymore and they are addicted to Facebook and Google+ and Twitter and apps on iPhones and Android.”

    What Jeff and others like me are trying to do is to show the people the right way. Come towards the light. Don’t get a Facebook email address and run your business on it.

    The internet is SHOULD NOT be the place that locks us into a closed network, but instead is (and should always be) the tool that allows us to connect all of our networks together.

  37. says

    This whole argument also reminds me of Cory Doctorow keynote he gave to the CCC in Berlin last year. He spoke of how current copyright law is a threat to general purpose computing. It is a must read as well http://boingboing.net/2012/01/10/lockdown.html

    This relates because Facebook (amazon/iOS/xbox/ all closed networks) are a threat to the common web.

    Jeff’s (mine and others) argument against Chris’ position is because we see a threat to the freedom of how the internet works.

    • Jeff Turner says

      Damn that was awesome. “We haven’t lost yet, but we have to win the copyright war first if we want to keep the Internet and the PC free and open.” Some battles are worth fighting.

  38. says

    Jeff as usual you hit the nail on the head. I have been on Facebook for a couple of years and enjoy the small community that I have become a part of. I have made great friends and have reconnected with past High School friends.

  39. says

    I was thinking the same thing Drew. So many great comments by folks who’ve taught me so much over the past few years. Ben’s comments about Facebook personal accounts and pages becoming too self-promotional were profound and it’s something I like to discuss with friends as we try to self-regulate as much as possible. 

    It’s always frustrating when something gets played out.  That includes Facebook, mutual friends and acquaintances.

    The thing I’m constantly trying to remind myself of, is that we’re doing our best and can always use each others’ help. Jeff has been instrumental in showing me that you can talk about work with your friends on Facebook. That’s why I’m here.

    • says

      I think this discussion speaks to the power of niche (smaller sub-groups as Turner calls them above) communities. Jeff’s blog has its own community behind it that follow him regularly. Most have met him in person, had twitter conversations, email threads, etc. Certainly 85% of the commenters on this thread fall into that group (maybe all). Those prior conversations/context is a big reason the discussion is so good — there are existing relationships between not only Jeff and the commenters, but between the commenters themselves.

      Personally, I think this type of community is the future of the web. I learn way more engaging in discussions on blogs like this one, A VC, Geek Estate, etc than in FB discussions. The details of exactly how these types of communities will be organized/built/etc is still up in the air…but it is the future. FB is already so big that there is too much noise & clutter (at least for me). Eventually, thought leaders will find a next platform where they can have better discussions, less noise and better UI, and the masses will follow over time.

      • Jeff Turner says

        Drew, I think that’s part of it, maybe most of it. I also think the Facebook personal stream encourages surface level conversations. Likes, a quick, “This is awesome” comment, etc. Many have talked about this as a flaw in the network. You can see a big difference in Facebook groups, which are their own communities, their own subgroups. The conversations in those sub-groups are often much deeper. “Eventually, thought leaders will find a next platform where they can have better discussions, less noise and better UI, and the masses will follow over time.”


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