Unsocial Media: The Uselessness Of Facebook And Google+

October 17th, 2012 | researchmaterial

Google+ is apparently a success, according to many tech reporters.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that most people are using G+ to post inside Circles.  Some 11,000 people have added me to G+ circles – but, apparently, none of the ones they post to.  Of the 150+ people I had in circles, precisely three of them posted content I could see.  When I posted content, only a thin fraction of those 11000 people could see it, because at some point I got tuned out by the system.  G+ is therefore useless to me, and I just nuked my circles.

Facebook Pages allow some 16% of the people who clicked Like on a Page to see the posts from that Page.  Regardless of whether or not those people specifically requested those posts in their News Feed.  If a Page owner wants to access the eyeballs of more of the people who clicked Like on a Page because they wanted to see that Page’s posts, that Page owner has to pay to Promote those posts.  I would currently have to pay USD $10 to ensure that all the people who Liked the official Warren Ellis Page on Facebook actually saw one single post.   Facebook Pages are therefore useless to me. 

(Of the 150+ people I had as Friends on my personal page, maybe five people were aware I was actually there, so I’ve nuked my friends list there, too.)

None of this is important, you understand.  But I’ve not been paying a huge amount of attention to social media this year.  Until it became time to start thinking about raising awareness of GUN MACHINE.  So I’ve had to dig into this a bit – I’ve been talking about this in the newsletter, too. 

Facebook, in search of monetisation, has killed engagement – unless your brand is so big that you are in fact desperate to pay for connection.  Because small brands like me can move around, but big brands have to be seen in the big places.  The Facebook Page is now completely broken unless you open your wallet.

And who the fuck even knows how Google+ works now.  It is, in its way, the most “service-y” of the social network sites – now the dust has settled, it really seems to be a souped-up version of Google Groups, with built-in discovery and significant tech enhancements like Hangouts.  A service, not a network.

None of this is important, but it is interesting to me. 

Facebook will have to rely on big companies for one of its revenue streams, driving the small-fry like me out of the Pages system and possibly off Facebook entirely.  People like me will probably keep a FB account alive, though, and maybe even use it to log into things, thereby sending data back that they can sell in another revenue stream.  FB won’t care that I’m not running a Page. In theory, by usurping the “single sign-on” role that things like OAuth were supposed to fill, Facebook gets data to sell without even having to run a social network.

Google doubtless gathers enough data about me in other ways that my non-use of G+ won’t matter a whit.  They felt that they had to have a social network, but they are not a social network company, and don’t need to run a social network in order to do their business.

Perhaps you could add “the death of the social network” to “the death of blogging” in the media-headline scare list.  Replace it with pervasive digital loyalty, maybe.

Whatever it is, it’s no bloody use for hearing from people, or talking to a crowd.


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  1. You can find Warren on Twitter: @warrenellis