Don’t say you’re a comedian
When I was a sixth-former, I met my favourite ever writer on a school trip. In books talking about the world, he was profound, moving, a comic genius. In the flesh talking about himself, he was Michael Gove without the charm, with more than a whiff of gin at 10 in the morning. Disappointment ain’t the half of it.
And so, I fear, it is with Facebook’s communications this week.
A billion users can’t be wrong
The way Facebook is embedded in the world’s everyday life is astonishing. It’s not so much a platform as it is digital electricity – something that flows through, and powers, our everyday interactions so much we scarcely even notice it.
So you would think creating a campaign to celebrate something that has become such a fundamental part of our lives – having just passed a billion users – would be an absolute breeze.
The result, however, was this. Instead of demonstrating and celebrating this great new service, it seeks to describe it with, I think unintentionally, hilarious results. Chairs are like Facebook? Really?
Unsurprisingly, the interwebz in its collective wisdom no likee. The parodies emerged after about five minutes.
Facebook may have a big role to play in people’s lives, but it’s a role that is played out in million upon million of tiny everyday interactions. It’s smallness is its very greatness.
Which is why Facebook shouldn’t have bothered telling people how important it is; it should have tried to prove it.
The contrast with Google is stark. I’m sure that, somewhere at Google HQ, there’s a lovely brand onion/key/hourglass/aardvark that extols some over-arching value that it brings to people’s lives.
But does it use communications to tell people about that role? No. It proves it with small communications such as this or this, which are so smart it’s difficult to know where the communication stops and the service starts.
It’s thinking small, but it’s thinking smart. Give me that over a ‘big idea’ any day.