Google as Santa? Facebook as Scrooge? How Internet Companies are like Holiday Characters
What do Santa and Google have in common? Was Charles Dickens writing about Facebook when he penned “A Christmas Carol”? Did the magic touch of Justin Timberlake cause Myspace to come back to life just like Frosty the Snowman? The holiday characters from our childhood have a striking similarity to some of the top Internet companies from 2012. We took the liberty to draw comparisons in personality and accomplishments between the two.
Google asks sites if they have been naughty or nice
Let’s start at the top of the Internet with Google. Santa lives in the North Pole and runs a busy toy workshop for the entire world’s children, and then magically delivers those gifts all over the world.
Google is the ubiquitous leader of the Internet, and like Santa, you play by its rules or you aren’t going to get any presents. Everyone involved in SEO aims to be accepted by Google’s search algorithms to place high in the search leader’s results.
Santa asks all children if they have been naughty or nice and this year Google cracked down hard on the sites using naughty SEO tactics. Hopefully you and your business use a nice SEO strategy; if not, watch out for that lump of coal in the form of an disappearing website. Ouch.
Pinterest helps pinners find their inner elves
Elves are beloved characters from the holiday season who work tirelessly in the North Pole making children’s toys. No site represents elves better than Pinterest with it’s visually stimulating pinboards that quickly created a hopelessly addicted following.
Pinterest has inspired millions to try new projects; pinboards featuring crafts, DIY projects, and food top the popular genres. No doubt many Pinners have found their own inner elves, so look for handmade gifts to be a popular feature from those who frequent Pinterest.
Pinterest has also created a new channel for content marketers who have grabbed Pinterest as their go-to site to promote holiday shopping. Pinterest is the best site for consumers to create their holiday wish list and show what their personal taste is (hint: if you need a gift for your wife or girlfriend, sneak a peek at her Pinterest boards).
Facebook turns into Scrooge, squeezes businesses for money
Ebenzier Scrooge is the main character in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” and is known for his greedy ways and general dislike of happiness, especially holiday cheer. Facebook has a striking similarity to this sad soul. It had a busy year with it’s IPO and subsequent downward spiral in stock value.
In an effort to drum up more sales, Facebook has been seeking more ad revenue by breaking the system that made it so popular in the first place. Besides the fact that companies might have spent money in an effort to gain a large following in the beginning of their pages, Facebook business pages show status updates to between 10-15% of fans that signed up to support the brand (yes 85-90% of fans will never see status updates). Facebook now pushes “promoted posts” to businesses so all fans can see the statuses. For a price. We say bah humbug and good luck with the Ghost of Christmas Future!
Instagram leads the way in mobile camera apps
Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer, onced mocked for having a red nose, who now holds the coveted role of lead reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh. Instagram is a social camera app that adds filters to phone pictures and allows sharing with friends in hashtag categories.
There are as many camera apps as there are reindeer but Instagram had a standout year. Instagram made headlines when it was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion in April. Now it allows integrated Facebook photo sharing, and launched a desktop site as well. Once commonly thought of as an underground, exclusive community, look to Instagram to lead the way in camera apps and gain a broader following.
Myspace comes back as promised
Another holiday character is Frosty the Snowman who bears something in common with Myspace. Frosty was a snowman who came to life when children put a magic hat on his head, danced around town merrily, and then eventually melted into a puddle. Myspace was the leading social network (once sold for $580 million) prior to Facebook that became increasingly cluttered with ads, controversy, a disappearing fan base, and was eventually sold in 2011 for $35 million. Just like the Frosty the Snowman lyrics say, Myspace promised a comeback.
For Frosty the snow man
Had to hurry on his way,
But he waved goodbye saying,
‘Don’t you cry,
I’ll be back again some day.’
This came a few months ago when Myspace announced a relaunch after a design makeover and help from celebrity investor and The Social Network star, Justin Timberlake. Myspace 2.0 is still a social networking site, with an overall slant towards music and celebrity involvement. The “Top 8” of your friends is still there but otherwise you won’t recognize the new site. There is seamless music integration (no Spotify here!), a feed of updates from all your friends that looks like a Pinterest board, and the ability to share content with others. Congrats on your rebirth Myspace, may this version last longer than the snowmelt.
Each of these Internet companies’ stories parallel characters from holiday folklore. Unfortunately consumers can be caught in the middle of companies struggling to keep up with growth. Our wishlist for the holidays is for Google to remain fair, Pinterest to stay pure, Facebook to lighten up, Instagram to stay on course, and Myspace to avoid heat.