I joined Facebook when it was “The Facebook” and you needed an approved school’s .edu email address to join. I’m talking around six months before it was opened up to all colleges, and then opened up to the public.
I’m not trying to be all hipster on you. I’m making a point. Bear with me.
Back then I only joined because my classmates all joined in a frenzy when our school’s .edu address became accessible in one of that last waves of schools to be added. If I didn’t join, I would have missed out on all the sharing of assignment tips and whatnot on there. Being that I went to an art school, we weren’t sharing answers (since most of our grades were from projects). We really were sharing tips on how to get the uncooperative gouache to work right, or reminders about what the professor would be looking for in the finished project.
Then I quit going to school, Facebook opened up to the public, and I started having problems with Facebook. So I quit using it. In fact, I deleted my account and stayed off the site for two years. Then my coworkers wanted me on there, so I joined up again and resolved to keep it simple. No applications, no “friends” I didn’t really know… I thought I had it figured out (and for the most part, I did).
Though I still doubted whether I really needed it.
So these days I watch Facebook (and people on Facebook) with a bemused detachment.
Boy did I have a good laugh at their latest feature: Groups for Schools.
HA! At first I thought it was some sort of joke. But a quick Google search revealed that this is for real. Facebook is actually introducing an exclusivity angle for .edu addresses, rolled out to groups of schools in waves, as though it’s something new. So let me get this straight:
- Introduce exclusive social network for schools.
- Realize everyone wants in and open it up to the whole world.
- Attempt to sell idea of exclusivity again.
- PROFIT EVEN MORE? Yeah right.
Wow. Are they just trolling college students?
Actually, I’ve seen something like this before. I read about it on the New York Times website a while back. It was a really neat article about how marketing companies pry into our private lives and use psychology to get us to buy and use their products.
When they first got started, it seems Febreze had problems selling a product that eliminated odors. They were actually doing very poorly as a business. However, their researchers (or someone) stumbled upon a woman who actually used their product. When they visited her, they found that she was using it as a finishing touch in her household chores, not to eliminate odors as it was intended to be used.
This crazy lady would make the bed with fresh bedding, then spray some Febreze on it. She’d wash and fold her laundry, then spray some Febreze on it. The bottle said, “eliminates odors!” Yet she was spraying things that already smelled good.
Rather than asking the lady from what height she was dropped on her head as a baby, they asked why she did it. Of course she wasn’t all that sure, but she knew she liked the way it smelled. So the Febreze guys looked at each other in disbelief, returned to the lab, and increased the perfume in their product. Then they turned around and marketed it again.
This time it wasn’t marketed as a product that eliminates odors; it was marketed as a product to make clean things smell nicer: Like a spray-on liquid air freshener that makes things smell pretty. Their commercials showed people doing what that crazy lady was doing: spraying it on things that were already clean.
Eventually the product really took off. This baffles me to no end. But the funny part is, once they were selling really well and making a ton of cash, they changed their advertisements again. They started telling people, “Oh yeah, and our product eliminates odors too.” They actually never removed that feature, but people didn’t care about it at first. After Febreze got big and made that announcement though, people were going, “oh cool.”
Anyhow, perhaps what Facebook is doing isn’t all that different from what Febreze had to do. Maybe Facebook is trying to get back to its roots.
Or maybe they are just crazy.