Will Facebook float spark an advertising avalanche?

22:26, May 21 2012

Leaving Facebook - it's all the rage, and if you haven't left by now, you may change your mind soon.

Since Facebook became a near-ubiquitous social network there have been detractors, people who have proudly admitted to not being on the service in the same way that people brag about not owning a television.

Co-worker Naomi Arnold recently left the service and has been thriving, although I must say having to email her every one of the silly links I post on Facebook is a huge inconvenience.

And don't get me started on all these "actual real-life conversations" we're having. Good grief.

She's not alone. Take a look at this Twitter feed, which re-tweets people celebrating their exit from the social network.

There are plenty, and a lot of them celebrate their departure with a mix of glee and thinly-veiled smugness.
And fair enough too, leaving the service sounds like it feels pretty empowering, though jumping straight onto Twitter to celebrate strikes me as an odd reaction.

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Me? I suspect I'm a little unusual when it comes to using Facebook.

I don't spend too much time on the site at once, I barely ever post photos of my weekend (possibly more to do with my social-life than any willingness to share, but we'll leave that alone), I never use the chat function, and I don't really spend much time on friend's profile pages.

I generally just log-in either to see if there's anything on the notifications bar, or to post a silly video or link to an article.

I also check in on the Nelson Mail's page, just to check no-one's openly defaming a public figure in the comments of a post, or challenging me to a duel to the death due to the content of one of my stories (a relatively infrequent occurrence).

I think I'm lucky in the sense that several of my close friends aren't on the network, and so I am forced to email and call them, rather than relying on the passive stream to fill me in on their lives.

I've never seriously thought of leaving, because it's never annoyed me enough to bother.

But that may change soon.

On Friday Facebook launched its IPO. You may have heard about that, but they kept it pretty quiet.

By all accounts, it went reasonably well for the guys in the hoodies, with Facebook becoming a $104.2 billion company, although since then there have been some losses.

Still, not a bad day at the office by any means.

So how will Facebook change for users after going public?

The general consensus say it will lead to... ads... lots of ads.

A Facebook beholden to shareholders will face pressure to increase its revenues, and since advertising is the only way it makes money and the adoption rate is slowing (although a few more may come from this move), they will have to add more and more advertisements.

At the moment ads on the site are relatively unobtrusive compared to the rest of the web, but expect this to change as the company looks for new ways to generate revenue.

The counter-argument is that Facebook is different to other tech companies.

It has a mission to make the world more social, with an outsider CEO at the helm who doesn't think like the a Wall Street exec, and has set the company up so he has full control in perpetuity.

Of course, never believe anyone who tells you their company is the exception, particularly when they're travelling down a well-worn path.

Others argue that it's obvious to everyone that placing too many ads on the site would spoil a good thing, so Facebook would not dare to upset the boat too much.

But everyone's definition of "spoil" is different, and although Facebook users have put up with a lot over the years, perhaps many will soon reach their tipping point.

At some point, people are going to get sick of more ads, and they're going to leave.
Of course, I've said that before.

Funnily enough, Facebook may not miss us: they would probably prefer to have a user-base of people who share the most about themselves and are keen to click on ads.

Anyway, if you're contemplating leaving the service - find out more about deleting and de-activating your account here.

If you're not quite ready to go the whole hog, here's a relatively old guide on how to "quit" Facebook, without really quitting Facebook: basically how to create the most stripped back profile possible.

You might not need these links now, but maybe bookmark them, and wait and see how annoying Facebook becomes.