Like Smaug in the mountain, Facebook hoards everything shiny and never shares its riches. If you create a business based on Mark Zuckerberg’s promises, you will get burned, says Mic Wright, co-founder and CEO of The Means.
Once upon a time, in the ancient mists of the internet, when all of this was chat rooms, there were giant community swallowing beasts called AOL and CompuServe. They were not the internet, they simply mimicked it, rebuilt it within their walls like medieval castles with markets within their keeps.
Then the internet broke those walls. CompuServe died and AOL metastasised into a place that would fund the egos of sociopaths like Arianna Huffington and Shingy (don’t know who Shingy is? Click this but seriously don’t. He’s a human stain).
But as with all evil – just like Sauron returned and Voldemort would not stay dead – the walled castle returned. It’s new name was Facebook and it had learned to pretend to be open. It made things like Facebook OpenGraph and Facebook logins that seemingly made things easier for everyone. But like Smaug, the gold-hungry dragon, Facebook wanted all the ad revenue, all the traffic, all the eyeballs. And it would happily consume whole industries to satiate its crazy hunger.
And its propaganda efforts – ‘Oh, don’t worry about us, we’re just a friendly dragon in an iron mountain occasionally throwing out a few coins.’ – fooled almost everyone again and again. It would save journalism (it hasn’t), it would save politics (it hasn’t), it would save comedy (it hasn’t), it would save… you get the idea.
Facebook just wants your ad money. If you make something cool – especially video – it doesn’t care if someone else steals it. Because, in the end, Facebook always gets paid and you get… whatever Facebook feels like giving you. And Facebook, with its bland design values and censorious attitude to dissent and art, flattens everything down. It burns the forests then Mark Zuckerberg claims to love trees while selling you a pile of ashes, personally curated and sifted ashes.
So, here’s the advice bit:
The Means is a creative agency. We make things for companies and for ourselves. That means we have to make Facebook pages and deal with Facebook ads, a lot. And the thing is: Facebook sucks.
It’s very hard to work out how many people will look at something and even harder to guess how many will engage with it.
We have managed to run successful Facebook campaigns but they’re rarely as good value as Google Ads, Twitter promoted tweets (where we can get the cost per click as low as 2p/1c) and Instagram campaigns (a platform sadly owned by that greedy dragon Facebook).
So, if you run a company, you probably can’t avoid Facebook but never, ever build a business that relies on the good will of the facile folk at One Hacker Way. Facebook will be nice one day and burn your business to the ground on the next day. Like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg is not a hero, he’s a Bond villain.