Now Facebook exists, do we need yearbooks?

Now, we’re well into the Facebook (and general social media) era, here’s a question that keeps coming up in our discussions with yearbook customers. Which is, do we really need yearbooks now that Facebook exists?

Obviously, we think so, otherwise we’ve got a pretty clunky business model. But we thought it might be good if we wrote down seven reasons why we think so …

  1. The obvious first point is that a yearbook is a physical thing. It’s tangible; you can hold it in your hand in a way that you can’t with a website or an app. It has a tactile appeal – even the most tech-driven millennials are happy to admit that a hardback book ‘feels nice’ and that holding and reading a printed book is a different sensory experience. There’s even an article in the Washington Post about it.
  2. In a printed yearbook, the memories and pictures you choose to preserve are always the ‘most recent’ thing on the page. Ever tried finding that great picture of you and your mates on holiday, or that witty post you wrote on a friend’s timeline (or their wall, pre-2011) two years ago? Or, if you’re really old school, a cool Facebook note you wrote ages ago? Yeah, good luck with that…
  3. You can have much more editorial control over a yearbook. On pretty much any social media, unless you’re really slick at keeping your settings exactly how you want them, you get to see everything that everybody posts. Their political views, their evangelism for Star Wars, veganism or gangster rap, pictures of their dog, pictures of their ‘awesome dessert’, smug holiday selfies – you don’t control the filter. In a yearbook, you can agree what goes in and that’s what goes in. Want to ban the ‘duckface’? Just do it.
  4. You can have awards in a yearbook. We’ve seen some great ones over the years – “Most likely to be and evil dictator” was memorable, as were “Most likely to become a mad scientist” and “Most likely to marry a billonaire”. The beauty of them is that you can customise them to the characters in your year, so if you don’t have any ‘mad scientists’ but you DO have a collection of amateur DJs one of your awards could be “Most likely to play at Ministry of Sound”.
  5. Your yearbook won’t ever have ‘deprecated functions’ – that is, stuff that it used to do but it doesn’t any more. For example, Facebook used to have the aforementioned “notes” feature before they expanded the post character limit in 2011, and you used to be able to put hyperlinked text in your profile page. When you did this, if anyone else had the same interest you could click the hyperlink and see a list, so if you had ‘cow tipping‘ as one of your interests you could click on the link and find other rustic sociopaths easily. According to mashable.com, this feature went the way of the dodo in 2010, as did any content you might have wanted to preserve. Any social media is going to be inherently ephemeral – even if it’s still around in a couple of decades, it’s unlikely to be the form it is now or have any desire to store your 20-year old content for free! Remember Superpokes, facebook questions, or the Honesty Box? No, we don’t either, but they were big FB features in their (brief) heyday!
  6. People can’t remove themselves from your yearbook. Many of us have had the proverbial ‘Facebook break’ – in fact recent research has shown it can be good for you. It’s kind of a shame when you forget about the people who shared your formative years just because they no longer pop up on your news feed, though.
  7. You can have people sign your yearbook – and this is better than a tweet or message on your timeline for a number of reasons. It’s more likely to be spontaneous, and therefore heartfelt. It’s handwritten, and that’s becoming a rarity. It’s personal and only visible to you – OK, so is an inbox message, but I bet you won’t be able to read your inbox messages a decade from now and find yourself grinning about what a bunch of loons you and your mates were.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. The Boston Globe agrees with us! What do you think? Add a comment or tweet us your thoughts!

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