Why Do Web Journalists Fail At Facebook?

Posted by on July 4, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I don’t mean to pick on Josh specifically, but he’s hardly a role model.

Up until about a year ago, my Twitter feed was married to my Facebook feed. Whenever I tweeted, It would show up on my Facebook wall. On the former, I’d get quick replies from randoms, on the latter, I’d actually have fruitful conversations with friends. It makes sense: if you’re gonna post something, why do it twice? Eventually I fell out of favor with Twitter’s lowering signal-to-noise ratio and uncoupled the two, leaving me to direct specific topics in either direction. So far, the experiment has been fantastic. I post a lot more content exclusively to Facebook and I feel I’m really taking advantage of both feeds for their respective purposes. But as I start to use Facebook more fruitfully, I look at my counterparts across the web and wonder, not really at why they don’t post more exclusively to Facebook, but why they fail to use Facebook to any of its potential.

Robert Scoble uses his Facebook page to talk about his Google+ content, much like fine champagne comes with coupons for cheap beer. Shut up, that made sense.

But maybe I’m just not getting the full picture. In the days before Subscriptions, the ability for Facebook users to enter into one-way relationships with followers, in much the same way Twitter works, the idea of becoming a friend with someone like Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann or The Verge’s Joshua Topolsky was networking. You get to know the people beyond the image they build on their respective website and maybe they get to know you a little bit. You can have genuine conversations with them in a way that wasn’t possible in the days of bulletin boards. But far too many use their Facebook like I once did: as an extra plank to their feeds from elsewhere. They start a Facebook page, link their Twitter or Google+ activity to it, and then never return. So why even bother?

My argument isn’t that people shouldn’t have home bases elsewhere. Some of these journalists and pseudo-celebrities are far more familiar with other networks and, for the sake of time and energy, prefer not to curate exclusive content for each network. It makes a lot of sense. What doesn’t make sense is in creating a full online persona on the world’s largest social network and then sending content there, never to interact with the upwards of thousands of subscribers that pay attention to it. Then, many of these journalists swing around on their web sites and claim to speak authoritatively on how Facebook works and operates as part of their full-time job. In my position here, I already have an opinion on Google+, I don’t need to demonstrate to my followers there that I pretend to care by replicating my content there.

But maybe these people do use Facebook personally and don’t show a lot of their Facebook content to the world, still, it wouldn’t hurt to give a damn about the face you show to the public.

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