Huh? Skype Thinks That If You Hate Twitter & Facebook You'll Use Skype More

from the say-what-now? dept

We’ve seen some bizarre advertising campaigns in the past, but I’m really left scratching my head about Skype’s new ad campaign, the sole focus of which seems to be about bashing two other popular services: Twitter and Facebook.

Now, I use all three of these products — but I use them for very, very different purposes. Skype is useful for all sorts of things, but it’s an entirely different kind of service than Twitter or Facebook. And, actually, I stay in touch with plenty of people via Twitter and Facebook. More importantly, bashing Twitter and Facebook doesn’t make me any more interested in using Skype. It’s not like I’m suddenly going to say, “Hey person I normally communicate with via Twitter, thanks to this advertisement for The Skype, I now wish to have a real time audio or video chat with you.” No, as always, I use the different tools for what they’re good at, when appropriate.

I get that Skype wants to position itself as a social network, but it’s not. It’s a communication tool — and it’s good at what it does — but attacking other services that don’t compete with it doesn’t make much sense. In fact, if anything, it leads me to think less of Skype. I really do find Skype’s instant messaging and voice/video features quite useful. But over the last few years, the company has increasingly cluttered its interface and consistently made it more and more annoying, rather than more and more useful. The fact that it now thinks the proper strategy is to attack services that people use in totally different and completely non-competitive ways, only makes me think that Skype has lost its way and its vision. That makes me, a paying customer of Skype, concerned that the company is increasingly focused on chasing some silly strategy that will continue to make my life worse as a consumer. Such a stupid ad campaign just makes me wonder if I should be exploring real alternatives to Skype.

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Companies: facebook, skype, twitter

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Comments on “Huh? Skype Thinks That If You Hate Twitter & Facebook You'll Use Skype More”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Or maybe the point that it’s trying to make is simply that Twitter and Facebook, while useful, aren’t typically enough by themselves for really keeping in touch with folks the way that a phone call or video chat from time to time might be. You know, like the ad says?

In other words, the ad seems to be making the same point that you are. And while you may already be using Skype and the like plenty yourself, there are plenty of people out there letting their real life long-distance friendships fade away as they only “see” those people on Facebook.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Twitter and Facebook, while useful, aren’t typically enough by themselves for really keeping in touch with folks the way that a phone call or video chat from time to time might be.”

Nor are they intended to. They’re social networks that allow people to share information with large groups of people, not a one-to-one communications medium for real-time interaction. That’s what Skype is for…

“In other words, the ad seems to be making the same point that you are.”

Which makes as much sense as Virgin Atlantic launching an attack ad on Ford saying that there’s no better way to get from New York to London than to fly with them. Well, durrr…

Dave Nattriss (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Except that Facebook’s ‘Messages’ product is used regularly by the majority of users for direct communication – popular because it bridges e-mail, SMS, Facebook messaging and Facebook Chat (instant messaging). Personally I use it far more often than anything else for keeping directly in touch with friends online. There’s even a Windows client available.

Anonymous Coward says:

While I do not like social networking, I do however relatively appreciate that they are done in a browser. I do not however, enjoy skype and how it accesses the computers HDD and bypasses firewalls, can and does accesses key portions of the computer, nor that it seems to be doing what MSN seems to be doing with links: Monitoring your conversations.

The fact that a good majority of phones have Skype installed, at least to some degree, and comes pre-loaded on many new computers is a bit scary to me.

Check out Wikipedia’s article on Skype’s security concerns.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

While I do not like social networking, I do however relatively appreciate that they are done in a browser.

Funny about how different people have different tastes. I absolutely hate that these things are done in a browser. Browser interfaces, even the best ones, suck.

If your objection to running native code is security-based, though, then you should rethink your position. The security gains you get from browser-based stuff are a matter of kind, not degree. Your machine can be hacked just as readily by a browser-based service as a native code one.

G Thompson (profile) says:

I’d state that Skype is more of a social tool than Facebook since Facebook by itself (and yes I know they have chat.. so does IRC – so what) is in no way a Social network unless you mean a 1 to many (1:m) ego wall of “look at me” with no ability to actually thread interactive communications between multiple conversations.

Skype cannot do this yet either since again it is really 1:1 (or 1 to the limit of conferencing you can do). Twitter is getting close though the character limit (which is because it was originally made as an SMS socialising alternative) is a major problem and its ability to thread is actually better than it was but still basic (try following a convo that has more than 2 levels.. -good luck).

Place them all together with the type of MicroBlogging ability of Tumblr/Posterous and the threaded forum conversational ability of PhBBS (or even Techdirt’s own Forum software) and then you will have a Social networking site for the masses.

Until that occurs we will always have these tools (and they are only tools) competing with each other over who is the best “non” social integrator of them all.

Sadly none of them are

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Nope though g+ is getting there.

Many:Many relational threading is still not available , with the administrator having complete control over who, what and where ANYTHING gets done. G+ still controls 90% of it all. Also it is still a mostly one sided conversation of someone posting and then people replying to it as a linear progression without the ability to link-in to other conversations combining and expanding on them.

They are trying. Though strangely the percieved ownership of having your own actual website creating your own community with sub communities that they can also control within the niches has sadly left the internet after places like Bianca’s, Palace, The Well, to name a few, and the most well known one Geocities faded into obscurity allowing the Ego massaging sites starting with MySpace to prosper.

mlang (profile) says:

It could be argued that they’re fostering the thought that Skype is a social network by doing this; social networking is where the money is.

It probably wouldn’t be a huge development to change to a social network site (whatever that really means). Their two problems would then be, 1) does anyone really want another social networking site, and 2) their USP would actually require people to be social.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Non-article

“Many brands advertise by denigrating a competitor”

The main point is that it’s highly arguable whether Twitter really is a competitor to Skype at all – at least any more than, say, radio is a competitor to TV.

“What does Skype’s advertising strategy have to do with price of rice in China, anyway?”

This is an opinion blog where the author writes about what interests him. If you’re not interested in what he has to say, you could go to another site that does interest you instead…

RyanMc (profile) says:

Something different

I think maybe you’ve missed the mark on this one Mike. I don’t think they are attacking Facebook or Twitter. Well, maybe Twitter but not directly. The 140 character limit is also on txting.

I keep hearing lately that txting is to blame for people’s lack of civility. Txting your brother/sister/mother/father/friends “I love you!”/”Hey whats up?” is not the same as picking up the phone and having the 20 minute conversation about nothing that a personal interaction requires. Combine that with the prevalence of smart phones/tables/internet connectivity and I think that they are trying to replace those sort of short impersonal types of communication with something that can be much more personal and actually connect with people.

Just my 2?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Something different

“I don’t think they are attacking Facebook or Twitter. Well, maybe Twitter but not directly. The 140 character limit is also on txting.”

If you look at one of the other ads on the link, it’s pretty clear that one of them is directly attacking Facebook. It’s too big a leap to assume that the other is attacking Twitter. Besides, do that many people still send standard SMS messages? Most people I know use iMessage, WhatsApp, Blackberry messenger, etc., none of which have such character limits and allow sending of non-textual information.

“the 20 minute conversation about nothing that a personal interaction requires.”

You may be exaggerating somewhat, but isn’t that the entire point of texting in the first place? Not everybody has time for a 20 minute conversation every time they want to share some information. Besides, the asynchronous nature of texts (and tweets, etc) make it useful for situations where a phone call is inappropriate or impossible, as well as allowing messages to be sent to large groups of people at once.

There’s a time and place for all kinds of communication. Just because one doesn’t fit your preferences does not make it inferior.

reha says:

Welcome to Skype Social Net

It will be great if Skype becomes a social network *also* apart from what it is – in fact at least a dozen like G+, Myspace (if revamped) etc are needed so that the whole world is not just divided into two – the ‘master’ FB and the ‘slave’=all of us and all sites which use FB comment box, like buttons etc.

Really, any number of social nets is welcome so that there is not just one big fat player. Power be unto Skype.

Arium (profile) says:

Product Differentiation

I think you might be splitting hairs with market segments here. It?s correct to distinguish skype as a communication tool and not a social network; however the social network category is a subset of the larger communication tool Market! What we?re seeing here is not a mismatch of markets but a completion between its subsets.

I would (over simply) say there are three major subsets here (online), Social networks, direct communication, and forum/bb. They are all part of the same market, all competing for the same audience: And while you can, and probably should use all three some prefer to limit the channels of communication they engage in.

I would propose that most people have a preferred channel. Or at least an order of preference to how they wish to communicate with others (mine being 1.Direct 2.Forum 3.SN). What Skype is doing is attempting to change the consumers channel preference (differentiating) by saying what they do better (phone/video) is more worth your time and investment, than say status, and profile browsing.

It is incorrect to say their assertion is right or wrong, but it is fair to say that this assertion is right or wrong for certain people. Skype is trying to communicate to those who agree (with them) that they would rather ?stay in touch? using a tool like Skype by highlighting a limitation of another tool, social networks.

Obligatory flawed analogy:
Ford can sell cars by selling a family road trip cross country instead of taking a delta flight. You can argue they are not competing in the same markets (car sales vs. airline tickets). But if you acknowledge that their together in a greater market context (transportation) and that the ad is highlighting the difference in experience of that travel the ad is very valid. Their not bashing their differentiating.

Dave Nattriss (profile) says:


Sorry, I have no idea how this advertisement refers to or digs at Facebook?! 140 characters is clearly a Twitter limitation, and not something Facebook has ever suffered from.

Facebook is a rich, generally private, communication experience. Twitter is a limited, generally public, broadcast experience.

Skype is now part of Microsoft, and Microsoft own part of Facebook. They’re on the same side.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Facebook?!

Try reading the article being commented on, linked in the first sentence above. The above just shows the Twitter attack ad, the full list contains other ads that clearly attack Facebook as well as non-verbal communication in general.

“Skype is now part of Microsoft, and Microsoft own part of Facebook. They’re on the same side.”

Then why the blatant attacks?

Oh, and I did a quick search which suggests that MS have just a 1.6% stake in Facebook. MS hardly own it, nor is Facebook anything like a part of MS.

Dave Nattriss (profile) says:

True, there’s a reference to a ‘wall post’. Shame that this wasn’t shown or mentioned in the TechDirt article.

Why the blatant attack? Well, because someone in Skype Marketing has a job to do and figured this was a good approach. Seems that most of us here don’t agree.

Facebook and Microsoft share a lot, actually. Bing Maps is deeply embedded into Facebook Places and Events, whilst Bing Search is a part of Facebook Search. Also, the overall layout of the desktop browser (regular) Facebook deliberately mimics Windows, with a task bar and notifications at the bottom of the window, menu options at the top, and a Windows Explorer style tree on the left side. These things are no coincidence.

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