Balls to it! (a Whatley rant-a-thon) Part 4: The thing about Facebook

It’s a Social TOOL – not a SOCIAL NETWORK!

As I’ve previously stated, I’m a huge fan of Jyri Engelstrom, creator of not only Jaiku but also the dude to first come up with the theory of Social Objects. I could explain what they are – but Hugh MacLeod, he of Gaping Void fame (read his website – it will change your life) has already nailed it to the wall better than I ever could. So go.
Read. Read some more. And get yourself an education.

EDIT – someone else who gets it: Russell Beattie

So yeah – facebook is a social TOOL. People throw objectives like: “We need to make money out of these social networks…”

To the point actually where recently I was unfortunate enough to be invited along to the Telecommunications Executive Network evening (a ‘TEN’ event) which was subtitled:

“Social Networking: What’s Telcoms got to do with it?”

And it was all tally ho and where’s the money and ad-sales this and monetization that… but everyone just seemed to miss the effing point.

To the point where I raised it as a question:

“Good evening. James Whatley, SpinVox… There’s a school of thought that the money is not in fact in Social Networks but in fact Social Objects. Here we are in this room and I know maybeeee… one or two people here. They aren’t in my social network and I doubt very much that I am in theirs. But here we all are gathered here tonight around
this Social Object. The network builds itself around it. The money, therefore… is in the object. Not the network. If you build it they will come. Your comments please?”

Well – that went down a treat!
(especially as the last question of the evening!)

The following exchange:

The guy from Ogilvy: “Is that yours? I’m stealing it…”
Me: “Er no. Actually it’s Jyri Engelstrom’s. Co-founder of Jaiku…”
Ogilvy: “Ah.. see! Another Aggregation site!”


That. Says. It. All.


Ahem – anywhoo – that was a lovely evening.. 🙂

I was clearly the youngest person in the room and yet I felt completely out of my depth.
And in this instance being OUT of my depth meant swimming around in the shallows…

But hey – let’s not bitch moan – it was a very good evening… and I was known at the canapés afterwards as ‘The Social Object Guy’ which was quite amusing…

But yeah – Social Objects. They are what form the foundations of Social Networks. Plant the seed of a network with a Social Gesture from your Social Object.

Again – as Hugh Macloed rightly points out – it ain’t Rocket Science.
I seem to have gone off on a tangent… Where were we? Oh yeah – things that are annoying me online…
Err… I’ve had my Mobile Web Rant elsewhere… and I’ve raged about facebook to the nth degree…
What else…


No. I think that’s it.

I’m done.
For now anyway…

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

9 thoughts on “Balls to it! (a Whatley rant-a-thon) Part 4: The thing about Facebook”

  1. Hi James, some backrant

    OK, I would say social object theory is not new.. I do not want to detract from your heroes, I enjoy Hugh’s writing, but just grab any book about the history of advertising and it’s clear that advertising has always been about a “social object” and feeling connected with a product.. Pears Soap is a classic when Lillie Langtry (gorgeous celebrity of the day) back in the 19 century stated on a poster “Since using PEAR’S SOAP for the hands and complexion I have discarded all others”.

    In 1871 there was a poster campaign for a novel called “Women in White” – then a whole range of products were released, Women in White perfume, Women in White waltzes, Women in White bonnets etc etc.. you can see what the “social object” here was.. so, in my humble this is not new conceptually.

    The thing is about Facebook is that it is a platform which facilitates connectivity, and positive tribal amplification or negative tribal amplification about a product/idea/object.. Sure it is a social platform which affords social networks to establish, that’s why it is so popular. The networks within may be generated from advertisers, or may be generated from passionate people with ideas.. it’s the same, one is free and one has finance as the end game.

    What these guys need is a bridge, a guiding hand not a revolution.

  2. Ahh the classic Telco paradigm, monetization of every single aspect of mobile interaction.
    Hopefully one day they will understand if you build something really cool (social object) then people will come to it in droves. If they continue to like it they will accept a subtle level of monetization. It’s the subtle part of this that the telco’s always fail to appreciate.

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