Nobody remembers the second man on the moon

We need to search.

Google has become a major part of our life. We “google” for almost everything. With Google we know everything that is there to know in this world. And Google was doing it nicely. With a very simple landing page, and no unnecessary flash pop-ups Google became a friend of all, like a big brother who knew everything, to whom one can ask any question.

We need to network.

FB has also become so much a part of our life. We take photos to upload on Facebook, search for those snaps which can become profile pics, come up with witty status messages that receive more likes, find out that link which receives more likes. With Facebook, lives of people became connected at a deeper level. Long lost friends greeted us and were up-to-date with what happened in our life thanks to our loquacious existence on Facebook.

Both these look different on the surface. One is searching other is networking. But what connects them? The answer is their source of revenue viz, marketing.

Google changed the way marketing worked with ad-sense. The Google Economy was born which was different, new and better than other existing forms of marketing. Targeted text based ads which did not interfere with user’s main purpose but provided good insights at times by giving Ads relevant to your search and email conversations popped on the side of the screen and on top of your search results with clear distinction.

Facebook took the game to a higher level. Specific targeted ads based on your sex, relationship status, interests, status updates all started coming on FB. Side by side, Virtual gifts, pokes, teddy bears, greeting cards – all became a rage. They are still a rage and this whole “Facebook economy” is growing stronger by the day.

I direct you to an article here  about the rise of Facebook economy.

The article quotes a Wharton marketing professor as saying, “Facebook is like the QWERTY keyboard: There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it came along at the right time and place. At some point, that standard just becomes locked in” The article also gives a story about two brothers who started Scrabulous and were making $25000 per month. In other words, third party applications based on FB were generating HUGE money.

People spend more time sitting on Facebook page than on a Google page because networking took more time than searching. Also, the ads on FB were closer to ones day-to-day activities and one is more likely to click on them than the search based ads on google. From a marketing agents point of view, FB provided wider avenues to deliver and implement marketing strategies than google. The pillars on which Facebook economy was built was two – a strong target ad mechanism and applications. On the other hand Google economy stood on a relatively weaker pillar of just Ad-sense.

Thus Facebook was slowly eating up the revenue from ads and Google was obviously scared. They had to do something to keep people on google pages and feed them ads. They tried minimising the difference between the top sponsored links and the search results so much that it became almost impossible to distinguish between the two if you are in a hurry. So much for the famed google motto, “Don’t be evil”. Duh. But this was not working and they needed more. So they came up with Google+.

“Search” and “Social Networking” both are just front-ends for feeding us ads. Finally, it is a fight between these two for controlling the market for delivering ads.

With Google+, Google is just trying to level up with FB rather than taking the game higher. The fact remains that Facebook Economy is in a better shape than Google Economy, today.

“Circles” and “Hangout” are not enough. Facebook can add something similar to Circles anytime and “Hangout” is not going to sell more ads.

Google+ is like Edwin Aldrin. People remember Neil Armstrong more than Edwin Aldrin.  To win this mad-ad contest, Google has to come up with breakthrough innovation.

“What’s on your mind?”

“<name> cgpa IIT Madras” (name removed for anonymity) This was a search term which led someone to my blog. And on discussion with my friend (<name>) he suggested who might have done this search. This got me thinking. So are we really safe in this web world? Come on! People are googling for cgpa of me/my friends and it is directing them to my blog. (Secretly I am happy that my blog got one more hit, but the matter in hand is important.)

Often, I myself have set my status without thinking about consequences. Maybe, I took what Facebook asked seriously, “What’s on your mind?” Thinking back, it seems foolish to blurt out whatever came to mind, to create a searchable e-evidence of my thoughts. Pensive, ladies and gentlemen?

The person’s name, the tags cgpa and iit madras were on my blog and maybe that led google to my blog when the particular combination was searched. However, now we can be assured that people search for things which you might not want them to know. E-Stalking is so easy. It feels weird to know that someone actually wanted to know this sort of information. So I should be more careful when I post something in the future.

And we are to blame, by letting the world know sensitive personal information or ideologies. Yes, Ideologies. Should I say pseudo-ideologies? I digress. Often on my news feed and buzz feed, stupid statements about political and religious pseudo ideologies pop up and it is with great restraint that I have to hold back from commenting. The statements make me wonder if they actually know what Das Capital is or what Engels actually meant. Or even, if they are aware that the INC is supposed to be a socialist party and India a Socialist democracy. Anything to the right of left is not capitalism, my dear friends.

Coming back to protecting information, if you have not already done so, do check out Facebook privacy settings and control what posts others should read and what you wish to hide from certain people. Some of the options are really nice.

Also it was interesting for me to note that some of my acquaintances on FB actually read my posts and refrain from commenting, maybe because they are afraid that they will be notified for further comments that are irrelevant to them. I found it interesting because I was sure they had hidden my updates in their feeds. ‘Bacn’, as they call it, is annoying. Facebook should come up with some mechanism in which one can comment without getting bugged later. This can ensure that social relationships are maintained better in a world where LOLing and slash m slashing are used even in face-to-face conversations.

Deactivating your account is not a solution to myriad problems of this kind. On the other hand, deactivating is similar to how a panel recommended replacing ceiling fans with pedestal fans for reducing suicides in IIT. It is absurd. By exercising caution, Facebook can be used for constructive purposes. After all, it is an amazing platform for online marketing. Specific target delivery of relevant ads is possible. Extremely useful to get some kickass deals, this aspect is yet to catch up with businesses in India whereas I saw many such deals in Toronto.

Only thing to consider, next time you update your status, beware! There are numerous stalkers out there who feed on information you dissipate and the world actually believes you are a particular type of person from the posts and links you share.