As I baked muffins to celebrate Facebook’s IPO, it occurred to me that there’s one HUGE, unspoken difference between the data people reveal to Facebook and what Google collects through search and other tools. It’s this: Facebook knows the image you want to project to the world – your “social resume”. Beautiful vacation photos; that perfect profile photo you Photoshopped so much that your nose is part puma, part Joan Rivers; and those photos of you surrounded by hot girls that lets the world (and Facebook) know that your party never stops.
Well, Google knows your dark, ugly, dirty truths. Your transcribed Google Voice messages reveal you argued nonstop on that island vacation as your kids yelled, “I hate you!” in the background. Your search history shows all your liposuction research, as your Photoshop bills skyrocket. Several of your eHarmony dates have jumped through glass storefronts to escape your shocking, incongruous looks. Google also knows where you’ve been – HOME!!! Your Android phone tattles like a four year old bribed with brownies. It reports your every move and it knows you’ve barely moved. You haven’t been invited to a hot party since October ’09, when you made your one friend wait two hours as you caked on makeup, trying to look your very beast…I mean ‘best’, before leaving the house.
What I’m saying is – you have two lives. The pretty, inauthentic one you construct on Facebook and the one where Mistress Sally from Craigslist walks on your face with stilettos wrapped in bacon. (Don’t ask…I just write whatever my imagination conjures.) Point is, that disparity creates a very different value proposition for the two companies. As Google mines your dark side, Facebook scrapes away at your veneer to get to it.
I’ve had a Facebook account since early 2007, but resisted its advances like catcalls from drunken sailors. My first few friend requests didn’t exactly inspire hope – random co-workers, curious exes, and forgotten classmates . What kind of voyeuristic, Orwellian nightmare was this?? And, why were my ‘friends’ so damn old and frumpy?!? Where were the celebrities, billionaires, and supermodels? Was I not the youthful, gregarious intellectual I thought I was? Surely, this was a mistake… Despite years of self-delusion and indifference, I finally consummated my cold, distant relationship with Facebook by uploading my contacts in October 2010. This was no selfless act of love. Like many corporations and fellow narcissists, I salivated at the chance to use it to promote my “brand” –blog, book, appearance on Ellen. The last year of this reluctant romance taught me that Facebook is no easy prey. It’s an amazing social experiment that can be trivial, passionate, funny, and deeply personal – all at the same time. It’s an addictive, evolving organism with a rhythm and personality of its own – one that can be prickly and unkind to marketing and self-promotion. This fact is often lost on businesses. If, like me, you’ve ever tried to claw your way out of a mind-numbing meeting on how to “market on Facebook”, salvation is here. “The 15 Faces of Facebook” will be my ever-evolving analysis of who dwells on Facebook, what motivates them, and whether they’ll hear your Twilight howls of commerce. Ideafaktory is about to save you hundreds of thousands of dollars on behavioral psychologists and social media research. Then again, like any good drug dealer, the first hit is always free.