Do you go online? Do you use Facebook?
I resisted Facebook for years. I eventually got an account so I could keep up with old friends, now scattered across the country. It has been good for that—I get to keep up conversations with great people who would otherwise be lost from my life.
Of course, there’s a downside. “When a service is free,” a marketing expert once said, “you are not the customer. You are the product.”
Facebook makes its money by collecting all kinds of personal information so it can sell specifically-targeted advertising. If a company wants to offer a product for left-handed stamp collectors who wear size 9 shoes, Facebook can deliver the ad to those people, and only to those people.
If you are one of those people, you may appreciate the ads. Or you may resent the intrusion.
I don’t suspect there’s someone at Facebook World Headquarters who knows my name and is tracking my every move; that’s not how it works. But I’m still wary about sharing too much.
And if I can throw them off the scent, I will. In my profile info, I’ve told Facebook that I’m a 120-year-old woman. I do get ads for ladies’ support undergarments.
(For the record, I shop locally as much as I can. If I’m ever inclined to buy such underwear, my first stop will be Bliss Lingerie in Cold Lake, our newest advertiser. Welcome Bliss!)
Respect has a page on Facebook, and we’re much more honest with our information there. We share some of the stories we run in the current issue, and we love to share news from local organizations.
We’ve recently begun following the Elk Point Historical Society’s Facebook page. It’s a real treasure, with great photos of area history both recent and not-so-recent. Locals will recognize many of the people and places that come up on the page.
It's a treat for non-Elk Point people too. It’s worthwhile to look at the history of settlement in our region: Elk Point’s story is reflected in the experience of many Alberta communities.
I don’t mean to promote Facebook here! They are our competitors after all. Online advertising is the single biggest factor behind the decline in print advertising revenue over the past dozen or more years.
But we’re not afraid. Our business model is based on reaching people, not “targeting” them. Our readers are our customers, not our product; and savvy local advertisers know that there’s nothing like a good newspaper ad if you want your information to reach a mature audience.
So if you’re online, please visit our page. Be sure to follow the other community groups that interest you, too. The spies down at Facebook might learn that you love to read good content and that you care about your community.
And you can let them know you’ll buy your underwear where you darn well please.