Facebook Gets Pushy with Friend Coaching

Has anyone noticed that Facebook's suggestions are becoming more aggressive? Perhaps their new tagline could be "Facebook, your digital friend coach: We help you find friends, provide guidance on how to connect with them and never let you forget a birthday."  Sometimes the reminders have a sad quality about them.  Today, I was prompted to help a friend find more friends–is there something that triggers this prompt?  FriendSuggestions


Then there are the paternal reminders, "you haven't spoken with Jack in a while, send him a message,"  Forget that Jack used to taunt me about my height in high school, "Hey Jack, what up bro?"   And then there's the seamlessly unlimited supply of friend suggestions, and despite how inane they are, I can't resist clicking on them.  I wrote earlier on the Five Phases of Facebook, and I'm still at acceptance.  I am grateful for friends tagging good reads, sharing reactions to the season finale of Dexter, or encouraging folks to support health care reform, or same sex marriage, but I remain perplexed by the stream of quizzes, and Farmville updates.  I'm also struck by the conversations that start here.  My college consitutional law classmate debating with my Parisian neighbor out here in the 'burbs.   Facebook, where worlds collide.    How's your Facebook experience these days?  Love it?  Hate it?  Can't imagine life without it?  

5 thoughts on “Facebook Gets Pushy with Friend Coaching

  1. Fantastic

    Ha, I, too, am annoyed with Facebook’s efforts to make me use the site more. I can see why they do it but if I haven’t written on Person X’s wall in a long time, a prompt by Facebook isn’t likely to change that.
    I haven’t done the stats, but it wouldn’t surprise me if 20% of my network account for 80% of the activity I see in my feed. That makes the site less interesting to me. Sadly, interaction has to come from me/us/everyone, Facebook-prompts or not.
    Actually, these days I seem to be spending more time messing with my privacy settings than anything else when I’m on Facebook…

  2. ted bongiovanni

    Thanks Fantastic, somehow the FB recommendations seem like nagging. Rather than recognizing the time I spend on the site and what I do, it’s like, heh, now do THIS. I concur on the network stats–but I bet they roughly follow the inverted pyramid Nielsen writes about: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html
    Aren’t the making your updates public unless you indicate otherwise? Using your face in ads for friends. Privacy updates seem like time well spent.

  3. jonathan

    I read this post last week and have kept it in mind as I participate in the social Web. (I’m a confirmed “intermittent contributor” in Nielsen’s terms.) I think you put your finger on something when you identified the “sad quality” in the Facebook prompts.
    Sad, indeed, that we are encouraged to measure ourselves and our friends as Facebook measures us: how well “connected” we are, how much we participate, whether or not our contributions are interesting — no doubt according to an internal company algorithm that, like Google’s, takes into account the value of the advertising opportunity our contributions represent. Like we need more incentives to reduce our social relationships to economic ones!
    I think you’re also right to observe a trend here; and Fantastic is right to keep an eye on the privacy regime. The prompts to participation will either become more visibly aggressive or more invisibly embedded as Fb nurtures ambitions of going public and chases Google-sized revenues to make itself commensurate with its hype and valuation. Consider that the company is only profitable today because of its deals this year with Google and Bing, and that it’s losing eyeballs daily to third-party tools (like TweetDeck and HootSuite) that strip the data from Fb’s site, cutting into its ad inventory. Now, what a joy Fb will be to use when its own all-important shareholders are pressuring the company to squeeze incremental profits out of our online social activity every quarter!
    So, to your concluding question, Ted: I, for one, can imagine life without Facebook. My hope and expectation is that some upstart company will come along to dislodge my “social graph” from Fb’s clutches, integrate it into, say, a kick-ass standalone email and chat client that I pay $30 for, ad-free, and the social networking moguls will have to give up or learn some new tricks that depend on creating value for end-users, not advertisers. A Christmas miracle, anyone? Merry, merry.

  4. Ted Bongiovanni

    Thanks Jonathan–I guess I fall into the intermittent contributor category as well. I’m curious as to why you can’t imagine life without Facebook. I see it as an amusing diversion–and though it’s addictive–I think I could live without it. (Now, am I in denial like any addict? — “I could quit at any time.”) Facebook is fun–I’ve reconnected with folks, had interesting conversations, and it’s become a good source of recommendations–perhaps that’s enough. In some odd way, I think I find those suggestions really off putting–it’s like Facebook telling me I’m not up to the job. And my response is, I’m there a couple times a day–isn’t that enough?
    And I’m with you on the startup–TweetDeck’s not quite it…

  5. PiperfP23

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