FB) "strategies," it will have gone the way of MySpace. Some perspective before getting into the things that set me off, triggering me to ditch my personal Facebook account. I'm not saying Facebook can't work for brands. It works for TheStreet. As Director of Social Media, I run ads and promoted posts on the social network everyday. And we see results. It's the hot thing . . . until it isn't anymore. It's the place where people go to find news and entertainment . . . until it isn't anymore. Read the above-linked Twitter Will Live, Facebook Will Die story. It provides support for the contention that Twitter, not Facebook, is the proper and most sustainable information-oriented social platform. In any event, several events over the past week brought me to the point where having a personal Facebook account made me feel like a fool. First, on an individual level, the notion that Facebook connects people socially is borderline absurd, absolutely superficial. Sure. I get to "reconnect" with family members and old classmates I likely never would have come across without Facebook. Swell; however, it's background noise to the alternate reality Facebook perpetuates day in, day out. This network of friends you have on Facebook is little more than an audience. I'm not breaking ground by saying this, but, yes, Facebook works as a platform for folks to present a representation of their ideal lives to this audience. Nice place to get attention and self-medicate on that attention. Few people use it in a way that might actually strengthen social bonds. When tornadoes hit Oklahoma, I immediately looked up a guy I used to work with at a bicycle shop -- Russ Jones -- to make sure he wasn't dead. I was sincerely concerned. Facebook worked as a tool for me to track down Russ and determine he and his family were alright.
After a gun-toting, mentally-unstable (I guess I have say "alleged" here) killer murdered people throughout Santa Monica Friday, nobody contacted me on Facebook to see how I was or inquire about my child's reaction to being "locked down" in her school for three hours. My only "friends" who seemed to care were my mother, my wife, several neighbors and TheStreet's Carlton Wilkinson. People I do not need Facebook to maintain actual relationships with. Facebook is a place where it's OK to be self-absorbed. I didn't expect my "friends" to break from posting pictures of the food they were eating, political rants, Bible verses or the pool their kids were swimming in to be properly social. Next, on a broader level, Facebook has no idea what Facebook is. That's clear from its horribly unfocused approach to advertising. Over at All Things D, Peter Kafka did the best job summarizing Facebook's announcement that it will streamline its advertising products. Simply put, as Facebook cuts the number of ad units it offers brands to something less than the 27 it had been going with, it really still has no idea how to do advertising. It's apparently asking brands for input and will go from there or, as Kafka put it, "Sort of like telling a waiter that you're in the mood for fish, I think." Where I come from, sales people know their platforms inside and out. It's not guesswork. Good salespeople connect action to impact -- clearly -- every single day. That's their job. Facebook doesn't sell anticipated results that are real and meaningfully quantifiable as much as it promises a whole bunch of unfocused customers barging through your door. Is there value in that? I guess there is. Would I base (or invest in) a multi-billion dollar business on such a shaky premise? Probably not. I can tell you from firsthand experience, while Facebook advertising can work, it's not because Facebook has a firm grip on what it's doing. The company appears to throw iterations of its various platforms against the wall to see what sticks. This isn't market research or ever-evolving refinement; it's poking in the dark.
One minute when I go to promote a post for TheStreet, Facebook offers me nine price levels. I can reach an estimated 59,000 to 110,000 of our fans for $75 with ascending levels all the way up to $2,000 to get in front of somewhere between 510,000 and 940,000 people. The next minute Facebook is clearly experimenting with a different structure, tempting me with a small $20 buy to hit somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 fans. It's a mish-mash of options. Zero consistency. Does it work? Definitely, at some level. More people see the stories we post, share the pictures, like the content, make comments on it and, increasingly, come to TheStreet to read it. Would I spend $500,000 on a handful of posts like I know Facebook encourages larger names to do? No way in hell. It's akin to throwing a bunch of money on a Vegas craps table. Except, with a little work, you know your odds of success better when you gamble than you do on Facebook. Do I think Facebook can still be a $100 stock? Absolutely. But it's a Netflix ( NFLX)-like proposition. You have this impressive user base alongside the ambitious dream of maintaining it, growing it and turning it into a source of brand advocacy we have never seen before. When you put your faith in something like this, however, you're jumping on the backs of buzzwords and a bandwagon so-called social media "experts" are unwilling to question. Facebook does not present a sticky ecosystem. It's a place for the fickle; people who go through routines, like a heroin addict goes through needles. The scattered, unstable community of folks who comprise Facebook's user base are absolutely not the type of captivated audience advertisers will throw their money at quarter-in, quarter-out. We'll always be experimenting with Facebook because the bloated team of people running the company and its sales efforts clearly have no idea how to turn it into something as reliable and sustainably effective as established old media or a more straightforward, less frantic platform such as Twitter. Follow @rocco_thestreet -- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.