Why Facebook is the King of all Digital Genres

Facebook vs. Blog

Abstract: The All-encompassing Facebook

Many people in America wake up in the morning and immediately check their Facebook (FB), others spend countless hours of their day looking through pictures of a friend on FB, and others carry on conversations via messages, chat, or posts on FB. The appeal of FB is undeniable, and even businesses have created their own FB pages. This overwhelming attraction to FB is interesting enough, but what is even more interesting is the fact that FB is the most visited website in the world. In short, using FB to communicate and share information is becoming a more and more encompassing idiom of practice for all types of people. Studying the differences and similarities between blogs and FB pages created by both businesses (Chocomize, Dugan Chevrolet, and Bath and Body Works) and fans of a popular TV show (Dexter), one will be able to see how these different technologies (or genres, if you will) enable and restrain users. Or in other words, how these separate genres function rhetorically. By looking at these similarities and differences, we can answer why FB seems to be beating out the other genres.

Key Ideas

Facebook and Remediation

First of all, FB is not completely foreign to anyone. Even if your grandma has never seen FB she could easily read posts and understand who wrote them. This is because FB mimics older technologies that people are familiar with, an idea called remediation. Ilana Gershon explains remediation in terms of media ideologies (or ideas about how technology should be used, see the group page Media Ideologies for more information) saying, “Media ideologies about one medium are always affected by the media ideologies people have about other media,” for example, “how you think about texting is linked to how you think about calling someone on your cell phone” (5). Gershon is explaining that older forms of technology affect how we use new technology. FB mimics a lot of older technology, including diary and journals, newspapers, email, AIM, and even photo journals or scrapbooks. FB’s posts allow you to compose diary-like entries that are usually personal and complete with a date stamp. FB is also similar to a newspaper because FB shows stories from everyone, displaying the most recent stories first. FB also offers the “Messages” section that allows you to compose the equivalent of an email-except it is all done through FB. FB even allows you to hark back to the days of AIM (instant messaging) if you choose to use their FB chat at the bottom right corner of the FB page. Last but not least, FB even allows you to create and browse through personal photo journals, something that is very similar to scrapbooking. From the quick run through of these examples of remediation, it is easy to see why people feel comfortable using FB- it is familiar. This purposefully designed familiarity, or remediation, is a form of rhetoric designed to attract users.

Facebook vs. Blogs: Business Examples

Now that we have established that FB is familiar and easy to use for most people, we can move forward in the argument of FB vs. other genres. FB is familiar, but so are blogs that also feature diary-like entries. The question is which genre provides the most convenient structure for exchanging information through these diary-like posts. While the structure of both blogs and FB allow for an exchange of information, FB does it better. For example, in order to read the comments on Chocomize’s business blog, you have to click the “Comments” button, whereas on FB all the comments are displayed right underneath the post. Also, if you want to post your own comment on Chocomize’s blog you have to scroll down to the very bottom of the page and fill out a form before you can comment. However if you want to post a comment on FB, all you have to do is click in the comment box that is right under the post. Also, in order to comment on Chocomize’s blog, you have to create an account and log in. However, if you are already on FB, you do not need to log in or create a new account to comment on Chocomize’s FB page. The structure of FB is designed to allow people to communicate easily, and many people already have a FB and feel comfortable using it (at least the 20,000+ people that are on Chocomize’s FB page now!). Because of the FB structure, which allows for an easy way for participants to post and comment easily, FB creates a better place for the Chocomize community to congregate than the Chocomize blog.

Another example is the Dugan Chevrolet blog (http://prieszcrafade.blog.com/2011/09/10/dugan-chevrolet-danville/) and Facebook page. Their blog simply features six links to other websites with more information, and was last updated September 10, 2011. In contrast, their FB page is full of posts from fans, customers, and the business, with all of their information right there on their “Info” page. Their last update was a couple of hours ago on FB, and has already received 11 comments from other people. Their blog featured zero comments-that’s right, zero. This could be for the same structural reason as Chocomize’s blog which forces you to create an account and scroll down to the bottom of the page before you can leave any type of comment. It is clear, that like Chocomize, the Dugan Chevrolet business has congregated on FB instead of their blog.

Bath and Body Works (BBW) is perhaps the best example of how businesses are abandoning blogs for FB, because while BBW has over 2 million fans on FB, they have NO blog. BBW does not even think it is worth the time to maintain a blog, but they do take the time to post pictures featuring new products, make posts about new deals, and comment on customer questions- on FB. For further reading on how businesses use technology to create a community and attract customers see Daniel's page about Twitter.

Facebook vs. Blogs: Non-business Example

Not only are businesses leaving blogs to congregate to FB, so are groups of other people. One example is the fan group of the popular TV show, Dexter. There is a popular blog, and of course, a more popular FB fan page. The Dexter blog has not featured an update since October 2, 2011, while the FB fan page receives updates about every minute. To further the point that the FB is more popular, it is interesting to note that the creator of the Dexter blog is actually selling the site. The creator has a sidebar that read with a title that reads, “Site for Sale” and under that continues, “Attention Dexter fans! I am currently accepting offers on DexterBlog.com” (http://www.dexterblog.com/). I can only speculate on the many reasons that this creator is selling the site, but the fact remains that they have chosen to leave the blog for whatever reason. Similarly to the other blogs, this blog receives between 0-3 comments per post. This is in stark contrast to the FB page, which boasts more posts and many more comments.

Ok, it’s true that FB wins over other genres like the blog: But why?

As we have already addressed, FB is familiar to people, and that makes it an attractive option. One could argue that blogs are just as familiar as FB, so why exactly does FB seem to be winning? I will offer three reasons: FB boasts a more user-friendly structure, it allows multiple forms of communication all in one place, and it already has an established community.

As mentioned with the Chocomize blog vs. FB page, the structural differences could play a major role in the deciding factor between the use of blog and FB. While FB allows you to comment directly under a post, blogs tend to force you to scroll to the bottom and create an account before you can comment. Similarly, FB allows people to easily create their own posts to a page, while blogs usually only allow one blogger. This is major difference that results in a quicker formation of community on FB. One research article, “It takes a marketplace community to raise brand commitment: the role of online communities,” by Jae Kim, explains how online communities are formed. He says, “the infrastructure must foster a sense of community that facilitates the exchange of information” (420). If FB posts can be created by anyone rather than just one blogger, and comments can be easily and quickly left, than it makes sense that FB would “facilitate the exchange of information” more effectively than blogs, and would therefore create a larger community.

Not only does the structure of FB draw people, so do the multiple forms of communication all in one place. Rather than having an email, AIM account, and blog, you could simply have a FB. This tendency to use FB in place of other forms of communication can be demonstrated with the examples from Chocomize. One man writes on their FB page, “Hi Chocomize, I heard about you through LIQCity and we are opening a new hotel down on Vernon Boulevard and I would like to talk to someone about how we can work together. Please if someone could call me at 888-310-2100, my name is Jeffrey and I am the Director of Sales and Marketing for the hotel. Thanks.” This was so surprising to me, because I thought that this type of conversation would normally be done through email, however this man chose FB. He also preferred to talk on the phone, which is made evident because he left his number asking Chocomize to call him. This man would like to talk on the phone, but instead of looking up Chocomize’s number and calling or sending a professional email, he writes to them on FB. This seems strange until you realize that Chocomize is quick to answer to FB posts, and that FB is the faster way to communicate with Chocomize. One personal example of this is an email that I sent Chocomize asking about nutrition information. They did not reply to my email until I posted on Facebook. I posted, “I love your chocolate. Do you guys have nutrition information anywhere?” In just five hours Chocomize had responded with, “Amy, sorry for the delay. We just sent you en email :).” Sure enough, when I went to check my email, a new message from Chocomize was there. It was very interesting that Chocomize responded to my email only after I had posted to their Facebook wall. These two examples show how FB dominates communication lines with Chocomize, and how other forms of communication can be substituted for a quick FB post, which is sure to be answered.

Besides the user-friendly structure and the multiple forms of communication that FB substitutes for, there is also the fact that FB already has a defined community. When someone starts a new blog, people have to subscribe and follow it. This contrasts to FB, where people are already members and simply have to visit the FB page to post. This ability for anybody on the FB community to easily become connected to a FB page naturally creates a larger community than that of blogs. To read more about community building and why it is important you can read the group article, Community Building. These three reasons (user-friendly structure, multiple forms of communication all in one place, and an established community) are all forms of rhetoric that can be used effectively (with FB) or less effecitively (as with blogs).

Conclusion: Facebook and Idioms of practice

Ilana Gershon defines idioms of practice as the process of people, “figure[ing] out together how to use different media and often agree[ing] on the appropriate social uses of technology by asking advice and sharing stories with each other” (6). She further defines idioms of practices saying, “Groups of friends, classes, workers in an office will develop together their own ways of using media to communicate with each other” (39). From studying these few examples of blogs vs. FB pages, it seems clear that the majority of fan groups and businesses have collectively decided to use FB as a means of communicating. This use of FB as a primary form of communication for large groups of people with similar interests has become an idiom of practice. FB boasts many reasons why groups should prefer their site over blogs, and this has led the majority to FB. However, there are still those who hold to a different idiom of practice- communication with other forms of technology, like blogs. This minority is getting left behind, probably frustrated with the few and far between blog posts, lack of comments, and slow answer from online business (like with my email to Chocomize). In the choice between the genres of FB and blogging, FB is winning, but that does not mean that there are not people with differing idioms of practice who prefer blogs. As technology changes, perhaps another genre will appear that features a more user-friendly site than FB, with more communication options all in one place, and someone will be writing a paper about the minority of people with idioms of practice that lead them to use FB. Until then, FB is king of the digital genres because of its ability to attract customers by using rhetoric through structure set-up, multiple forms of communication, and a stable community.


Gershon, Ilana. The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media. Cornell UP, 2010. Print.
Kim, Jae and Jiho Choi and Wililam Qualls and Kyesook Han. "It takes a marketplace community to raise brand commitment: the role of online communities." Journal of Marketing Management 24.3 (2008): 409-431.