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The End of the Facebook Honeymoon: Why Growing Up is Hard to do but Necessary

Jun 26, 2012

By: Vanessa Horwell, Chief Visibility Officer of ThinkInk

Honeymoon Period: an early stage in any activity, before problems set in.

That’s the definition Dictionary.com gives for honeymoon. While I’m not one to re-write  scholarly definitions, I think a minor tweak is in order. For most of us, the Honeymoon period isn’t a blissful time before “problems set it,” so much as it’s the encroachment of reality. For Facebook these days, just over a month since it’s IPO, it’s clear the Honeymoon is over and the reality of being a publicly traded company is all too real.

In an op-ed earlier this month, New York Times Columnist Bill Keller, wrote about the need for Facebook’s devoted fans to wise up to the reality that Facebook is a business and advertising revenue, not altruistic supporters, are its true engine of success.

And like any company, it’s bound to have its missteps, mismarks, and missed opportunities. Whether it was the company’s overvalued rumors (as of this writing the stock is still trading some $5.30 below it’s $38 IPO), its computer glitch-filled public launch, or its most recent hiccup when the company as of this Tuesday, pulled its location tracking feature, “Find Friends Nearby,” after a less than ideal response, it’s as if the communications giant has lost its footing.

While Facebook’s legion’s may have been slow in wising up to the social media site’s corporate realities, it’s equally assured that the company itself has been swallowing some bitter medicine too. But as much as Keller counsels Facebook’s nearly 1 billion members – a feat they’re still predicted to reach by summer – to grow up, and Facebook brass to do more of the same, (Keller praises Facebook for already doing so) he’s also spot on when he argues that all of these maturing steps (and bitter pills) are ultimately good for social media.

In other words, the honeymoon may be over, but that’s when the real work – and the real benefits begin. Just think about marriage. What would be the point if everyone called it quits one month into marital bliss?

Google the phrase “Facebook fatigue” today and some 32,200,000 hits pop up. But fatigue isn’t the same as full-on forfeit. The fact is Facebook’s recent troubles have been a healthy wake-up call for site administrators as well as their fans. By demystifying some of its altruistic culture and calls for hyper transparency means that for PR professionals the site could well mature into the marketing and promotional tool for our industry and our clients that we’ve been aggressively advertising. After all, it’s the challenges in life – not easy street victories – that really shape people and the organizations they run.

So as for me, I’m glad Facebook’s honeymoon is over. Because if it didn’t that’s when the true problems would set in.

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