A powerful misconception

I won’t call this an epiphany, but I finally felt motivated to write this post after reading yet another long Facebook thread about some service issue or another… as well as a similar comment about one of my lines of work…

The words that got me were “I’m your customer and I deserve (whatever)”…

Here’s the problem.

You aren’t Facebook’s customer.  The advertisers and app developers who pay Facebook’s bills are Facebook’s customers.  You are Facebook’s product.

This, of course, is a longer way of saying “follow the money”. 

Anything Facebook does for you, in the end, has but one goal… keeping you around so they can aggregate your information and sell it to advertisers.  Advertisers pay good money to get access to you.  Their interests come first – and yes, one of their interests is user retention, but individual users don’t mean all that much to Facebook.  As long as they have 500 million accounts (probably 1/10 of which are active), they can afford to irritate one or two now and again.  Facebook will put out public-relations fires, and add features that provide you some added functionality – as long as the cost of doing so (in cash) is less than the cost of not doing so (in advertiser dollars).

And let’s face it.  It becomes easier to understand Facebook’s actions when you remember that you’re not the customer.

And as to one of my lines of work… the same applies to radio, you know.  You, the listener, are not radio’s customer… you are the product.  The format of your favorite radio station is researched to truly painful levels, right down to song choice, song order, and rotation, in order to get as many of the “right” listeners (the demographic the station has pitched to its advertisers) as possible.  As one solitary radio listener, your favorite station doesn’t owe you anything.  You only matter in the aggregate – how many people like you can they attract?  It’s even rougher, I suppose, if you’re an outlier – a teenager who listens to an oldies station or a boomer who listens to a hot “Top 40” station… you’re hardly considered, because their advertisers aren’t looking for you.

So the next time you think about railing at Facebook because of their lousy user support… or at a radio station that didn’t play your request… remember, you’re not the customer.  And they’re focusing on their customers – which means they may not focus on you.

As always… follow the money.  It’s amazing how much more logical things are when you do.

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), improv tech guy, generally nice person (if you ask me).

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