Arment Dietrich

Facebook Is Becoming Walmart

By: Arment Dietrich | March 23, 2011 | 
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French boulangerieOne of the things I love about Europe (ok, France in particular) is the food shopping. They still go to the marché in Europe, an open street market, and buy meat from the boucherie, bread at the boulangerie, and cheese from the fromagerie.

It’s worth it to go out of your way and make your purchases from people who are passionate about what they are doing. The experience is richer, and the quality of purchases far superior to the Supermarché, an American throwback to the big box grocery store; a homogenous, concrete box with fluorescent lights, packaged goods and processed foods.

Which is why, when Facebook announced Places, I rolled my eyes. Facebook comments plugin was introduced a few weeks ago and now Facebook Deals is here. Facebook is becoming the Walmart of social media and it’s eroding the experience. I even wonder if it will become its downfall.

What will happen when Facebook continues to try and be everything to everyone?

It will become a lifeless concrete box, losing its sense of community and identity. Facebook will be mediocre at a lot of things rather than outstanding at one. It will push away its very demographic that was attracted to the pop culture it represented and become an object of derision for its sheer mega-presence.

I love Facebook. But I prefer my social media in silos, don’t you? I have different networks on different social sites, with different goals at each one. I love it because it’s a very efficient way for me to stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues all over the world, with whom I would normally not take the time to communicate on an individual basis.

I am not there so I can see when my friend in London checked into her corner convenient store (If I did, I’d friend her on Foursquare), or when my colleague who is a fishing fanatic got a deal on a guided fishing trip, or to know when my aunt who is into quilting commented on her favorite quilting blog.

As a result, I’ve become particular whom I will friend and what I will “like” on Facebook. I spend time every week cleaning up that list, and ridding my newsfeed of unwanted content. The thing is, I’m savvy to doing that, but I see a significant percentage of my Facebook friends who are completely inactive, having lost interest and I suspect this is one of the reasons.

I’m mourning the loss of the long tail in social media. From an organizational standpoint, I can see that businesses might welcome a consolidation of outlets, but I fear it dilutes the engagement.

What do you think of silos in social networking? Are you a silo- or a one-stop shopper?