Former TUANZ CEO and now PR guy Paul Brislen says Facebook’s attitude will ultimately result in its demise.
Why does Facebook deserve to die?
I think Facebook as an idea was really good up to the point where they decided they needed to make money out of it. It started with the privacy issues, it got worse with the recent round of changes to the interface and the promoting of paid links. Facebook has really come off the boil and the next wave of customers simply isn’t coming through. It’s because Facebook has stopped treating you like customers and started treating you like cattle - you’re the product.
Do you think Facebook has brought this upon themselves?
It’s partly that but it’s also partly that everything has its time in the sun. We all remember what happened to MySpace. I don’t think users value Facebook’s utility as much as Facebook does. The move by brands to get into Facebook has meant it has simply become just another polluted shopping channel.
Do you think users are becoming dissatisfied with Facebook?
I think so. I think that those who are on it already are doing less with it, they are less willing to engage with brands and I think new people are not coming on. You spend more time managing Facebook than actually getting value out of it.
What was the last straw for you?
I gave it away when they started saying you can either have top stories or most recent in your newsfeed, I chose most recent and they just changed it back.
What’s your opinion on the whole algorithm thing? Do you think they might have shot themselves in the foot?
Being a PR person I think it was entirely a comms problem. Companies have done this kind of work for years; such as the way supermarkets stock their shelves to encourage you to buy. I don’t have any problem with Facebook monitoring and managing our interactions because that’s how they think they are going to maximize their investment. Where they went wrong was they didn’t communicate it well and created a lot of confusion and frustration.
What do you think brands’ social strategy would look like without Facebook?
Well, you’ve got a whole new kettle of fish haven’t you? I think some Brands are really going to struggle to create a strategy where Facebook isn't at the core. It’s already happening. Brand engagement rates have dropped dramatically. I think social media is one of those things have to consider very carefully and consider what social media is really about – being social rather than trying to sell something.
If Facebook died, do you think a replacement would pop up or would we start using other sites more?
I think we would use other things differently, I think Google has tried to build a Facebook replacement with Google Plus and it hasn’t really worked for anybody except Google. Not because it’s poorly designed, it’s just that we have already got one. I don’t know that you would get something like Facebook, I think you would get something aligned with Facebook. We are seeing the likes of Pinterest or Instagram having some growth with more of a focus on visual channels now. Everyone’s adding in more and more functionality as well.
Since leaving TUANZ, Paul Brislen has joined communications agency Anthem as an executive director.
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