Friction for the Frictionless Open Graph

Have you noticed how Facebook’s recent changes to the News Feed led to the creation of a lot of automated content? We can see every article our friends read from The Washington Post or Yahoo! News. We can even see what song they’re listening to at any given moment on Spotify. Too often content that isn’t interesting or relevant to us shows up, and no matter how hard we try to optimize our feeds, the content doesn’t seem to go away.

Image Source: AllThingsD

The “Frictionless” Open Graph

Facebook has stated that one of the things it’s tried to do with the updated Open Graph is create frictionless sharing, the ability to share easily, even automatically.

It’s a beautiful vision, but the problem arises because there is value in having a degree of friction. It keeps the unimportant, irrelevant messages out of News Feeds and brings the most valuable content to the forefront. More information isn’t necessarily better information.

Apps that automatically trigger status updates can clutter Facebook, Twitter and other platforms that use a “feed”.

When this content isn’t relevant, it decreases the overall value of the social experience, training consumers to ignore certain aspects of content that we, as marketers, would rather have them pay attention to.

Marketing Duty: Keep Feeds Valuable

Social media marketing ultimately comes down to sharing content and encouraging others to do so as well, one-to-one-to-many, but this comes with the responsibility to be respectful when automatic sharing is in the mix.

Our goal should be to deliver value to our customers and their social connections. Are we making our consumers look good with the content they’re sharing on our behalf? Is this something their followers will actually be interested in? Does the sharing need to be automatic, or can we give our customers more control?

Automatic sharing makes a ton of sense in some aspects, but, like anything, it can be abused. When marketing is abused, consumers adapt. They either go somewhere else or figure out a way to ignore it.

A little friction is good when it comes to respecting consumer’s social channels. Just because we can do something, doesn’t always mean we should.