Why is Facebook the Place I Have the Most Friends, but Get the Least Value?

March 31st, 2008

I write this blog, I have a tumblog/lifestream at www.park3.org, a Twitter account and a Facebook page.  These are my principal forums for self-expression on the web.  I’ll come right out and say that I don’t like Facebook very much.  I’ve tried to find value in it, but I have mostly failed.

I like to write, which is my I like to blog.  Facebook isn’t about that at all.  Fair enough.  I like music a lot and FB lets me pull content from Last.fm, Pandora, Sonic Living and the Hype Machine, but I can do less in the applications on my FB page than I can on the original sites themselves, so there’s no draw there either.

I tried using Facebook to aggregate content from my other online outlets, but it does that poorly because each aggregation source is siloed in an application box on my profile and the whole thing gets cluttered pretty quickly.

Photos are one of Facebook’s strongest suits.  I continually tell myself to take more photos.  Maybe if I can do that I will start using FB photos more.

Groups and fan pages are useless- nothing ever happens on them that I can tell.

That leaves the other Facebook-native features: Wall, Poke, Zombies, etc. I know a lot of people who have fun poking one another and leaving wall messages.  That’s great, but I find it unfulfilling.  Messaging is good and I use Wall, but chest bumping, fish-slapping etc. don’t appeal to me at all.

All that said, I have connected with more real-life friends online through Facebook than anywhere else.  What this means, practically speaking, is that I get the most value on Facebook from status updates.

Why is this the case, though- why are more friends on FB than anywhere else?  I think it’s because it is so easy.  Twitter and Flickr do a much better job at status updates and photos, respectively, but Facebook brings them together and does them both just well enough to be a single point of focus, and throws in the quick-touch poke stuff to help people feel close even when they aren’t in real life.

I didn’t mean to end this post so cynically- saying that Facebook is really a lowest common denominator that does enough things just well enough to be appealing to the broadest segment of the population- that’s what it seems like to me, though.

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  • prophecy

    Good post Jay, you bring up some good points. It would be great if Facebook integrated with these other services better and brought them into the main facebook feed. But then you also have the issue of Facebook deciding when and what to show you so you could miss important things. Have you seen http://www.friendfeed.com ? Pulls in things from the sites that you mention (flickr, blogs, etc) and puts them into a single feed.

  • Yeah. I have very little use for Friendfeed or Plaxo or any of the other aggregators that just create one more place I have to visit. I am on both of those, but stopped checking them.

    The end point for me is that there are 5-6 social sites I visit/use regularly. Each has a different purpose, I can participate on each without getting overwhelmed, and that works for me. Facebook's niche is as the place I have the most friends and the shallowest experience.

  • Nat

    Amen your thoughts.

    -Nat

  • Nat

    Amen your thoughts.

    -Nat