Humans are in competition with one other for respect/credibility which is gained through experiences, achievements & associations.
My theory is that this innate humans behavior is what is majorly driving Facebook usage. I would like to focus here on the association aspect of it.
The cleverness of Facebook’s design is that Facebook becomes a story telling exercise that glorifies consumption. Think of Facebook profile as a glossy celebrity lifestyle magazine, the only difference here is that that you create, filter, promote and sell your story/life in exchange for comments and likes.
A celebrity just broke up, this story finds it way into the gossip magazine. You get a new boyfriend, this goes on your Time line. You are found pubbing in some bar, the pictures will find its way through Facebook time line including when, who all and where. The relationship between you and your Facebook profile is similar to that of a celebrity and a Tabloid magazine.
The essential components of any celebrity lifestyle culture is
And Facebook is no alien to Brands, while it already has celebrities which are its users. Facebook’s UI display and content creation features make is possible to associate oneself with powerful brands like Going to ‘Starbucks’, attending ‘Coldplay’ concert, buying an expensive ‘MacBook’, Updating FB status with an ‘Android’ device etc.
Normally one wouldn’t care what phone is being used to Facebook. But this constant bombardment of details as to weather someone is using and iPhone or Windows Phone is subconsciously embedding the idea of brands and brand consciousness to users psyche. Similar to what celebrity endorsements do.
How else could one explain why people ‘check-in to places’ or ‘share what they bought’. For instance, the fact “You met your friends at Starbucks” takes precedence to “You met your friends for Coffee” is a testament to how brilliantly Facebook was designed. Facebook exploits the “Power of Brand” which I believe is what will drive their business model.
Though at its heart Facebook is deigned to network with the people you know. It is a Trojan horse, which gives an illusion of promoting your self, while in reality you are promoting the brands you are associated with. Humans constantly evaluate “What do the things I do/own/use tell about me?” which is quite natural even in real life. Here you can easily replace things with brands, that is what Facebook is all about.
From how I see it, Facebook is a very competitive domain which thrives on promoting consumption of experiences and consumerism. On Facebook it just gets more more competitive than in real life because-
1. Scale of Social Graph
2. Nature of Facebook’s UI design
3. Human Nature
I believe extended Facebook usage will, eventually turn each one of us into a Brand Ambassadors, much like the celebrities. The only difference here none of us would be paid, while Facebook and Brands will continue to thrive at the expense of competitive consumerism aggrandized by Facebook culture.
P.S: I haven’t had time to explore and polish the whole idea much more deeply, but I will try evolve and develop this as I get to think about it more.