(ATLANTA - 25 October 2011) “Too big to succeed.” And no, I’m not talking about AIG or Morgan Stanley. Those horrible four words could be the new-new-new-new Facebook tagline. As the social-networking giant has grown exponentially, it has changed UIs (user interfaces), bells and whistles, functionality, and security preferences more than Tara Reid has changed boyfriends. While Twitter has streamlined and improved without blowing up their core product - and spawning a cottage industry of top-notch Twitter clients - Facebook has seized on an ill-perceived need to change, change and change again. This issue came to a boiling point while running ARTvision Atlanta - which, smart as it was at the time, has a Facebook page for the sole purpose of expanding our earnings reach and branding. As many folks have noted (here and here), love it or hate it, Facebook is a critical element in growing exposure to charitable causes.
Among the myriad challenges that charities face, spending time fixing a fatal code bug on a Facebook page shouldn’t be one of them. (My Googling shows that this is a widespread and as-yet unaddressed issue.) Alas, this is the case with our page now. Without getting into the geeky-gritty of it: Facebook has inexplicably violated its own TOS (terms of service) by allowing administrators to inadvertently change the name of a group with 100+ members by indicating the location of said group. So now, ARTvision Atlanta - which was closing in on 500 members - now reads as its beneficiary, Positive Impact, and the name cannot be changed back.
A group’s name is, last time I checked, the very foundation on which fundraising stands. Our AV page has three years of activity, history, photos and proven sales history that we have abandoned for a new page until Facebook gets off its ass to fix the issue. Sending bug reports, posting on help pages and other pleas for assistance have been systematically denied - because, well, Facebook is just too damn big. At last count, the site has 800 million users and they, by sheer volume, cannot address everything individually.
But is that a good enough reason to refuse help when charitable funds are at stake? This bug rises to a different level entirely when we’re talking about charitable giving. We depend on the networks and reach of Facebook to get word out, and this fatal flaw in their code - being no fault of any user - must be addressed now. Lest the company go down in history as the giant who got too big for their britches and couldn’t care properly for their philanthropic micro-communities.
When it comes to charitable giving and fundraising, a different urgency should rise through the ranks. And if this post helps to fix the overall bug itself, fine by me. In the meantime, please visit our new Facebook page and forgive the occasional grumble from me. - WP
Big HT and shout out to WannaBAuthor for the awesome devilish FB image.
Blogger’s note: I will be blogging at the ARTvision site from here until the end of the year.
UPDATE: After hitting hard, Facebook came back and addressed the Group name issue. We now are back in business as ARTvision Atlanta on Facebook! Of course, they attributed it to our mistake. But I don’t care... as long as we have the real name back.
In celebration of hovering around 400 Twitter followers - clearly, some of the smartest folks on the web - I give you my “Simple Four” social-media tips and suggestions. Here we go:
1. Leave dirty laundry to the cleaners. Your best pal, your hairdresser, or perhaps an unlucky neighbor - those folks are the sympathetic ear you’re looking for. They could also be the object of your ire; don’t complain about someone or something unless you’re a) saying explicitly why it matters and b) following it with a solution. Any complaints about people in particular will feel to your readers as venting and sour grapes. Contribute to discourse and two-way discussion, because, in the end...
2. It ain’t about you. This web-advice gem came from a talk I heard from the incredible Peter Shankman, offered mostly to folks who get pissed off about something or someone, and take that complaint to Twitter or Facebook. “I deserved that promotion.” “I hate my sister.” “My colleague is a douchebag.” Or, a more specific Facebook post from a friend in response to a celebratory, pre-grilling food picture I loaded to Facebook: “That looks like dog food. Food pictures are my pet peeve!” I care about that, why? How about you be irritated in your quiet voice and let me, and the rest of us, celebrate a fun moment? (The burgers were exceptional, btw.) Make your posts useful to your friends and followers, or run the risk of appearing self-aggrandizing.
The “offending” Facebook dinner preview Make your posts about your friends and followers - in this case, inspiration for cooking recipes - or run the risk of sounding vapid, self-obsessed and useless to the people who look to you for wisdom. 3. Don’t be a jerk. This is pretty straightforward: be respectful and always keep it classy. Here’s an example in support of this bullet, courtesy of the seemingly thin-skinned @Shoq on Twitter. After questioning his fiercely one-sided impugning of people who are concerned about Bradley Manning’s treatment - and after I joined with @a_picazo in asking him why - he Tweeted this: “.@wildcatatl I think you might either be sleeping with @a_picazo, trying to, or alternatively, you're just fucking stupid.” He then blocked me from his stream. I honestly didn’t understand why this otherwise progressive voice was railing on people so hard, without proof or support of his skepticism, and I honestly wanted to know why. The lesson: engage in conversations and debates in a mature way and do not needlessly flame people. Especially folks who know how to post about it later. 4. Always, whenever possible, include links. Be kind, support your findings. Your followers want to learn more about your positions and opinions. Tweets are nominations, if you will, for the most compelling news items of the day. Go to Mashable for more on this topic. The immediate click-through rate isn’t staggering, but if someone is evaluating your Twitter stream to decide if they want to follow you, those links will stay there and quite likely help you later.
Folks on the Internet want engagement, not one-sided preaching or personal blather. Scale to and maintain the high road - in the end, you’ll be rewarded.