This caught my eye recently – since it is a topic that people mutter about from time to time – kind of like – how long can Apple keep growing like this (those questions started to be raised when their stock hit 100).
Here’s Why Google and Facebook Might Completely Disappear in the Next 5 Years comes out of Forbes, and to cut to the chase, the thesis is that companies rise like they do on a paradigm shift – and the paradigm shift currently underway is that what the world is calling mobile.
Actually Apple calls the current shift the Post PC Era – and I think there is a difference – a big one – but this post is not about that.
Instead I thought I would give you my three cents on why the boys at FB particularly might have some problems ….
1] The rise of mobile – they are lousy at mobile – and will continue to be so. Why ? Because they come out of web thinking. The mobile world has really started up after their significant adoption. Meanwhile – they can’t advertise to you and bring money in if you aren’t on their site. Mobile is a transactional environment, in – do it – out. NO lingering. So either they work out how to sell and click through from their mobile apps – they are stuck.
The screen real estate is tight – deliver too many ads – then there is no space to do what I want – so I stop using it. That’s a big reason why I think they keep their mobile apps under par.
More and more posting is going INTO the site from outside of their domain of control. So more content goes in that has no engagement from the content provider.
2] Whilst on content – that aspect of what they do totally sucks. The site is all about ‘the now’. Fun – I grant – but nothing meaningful can occur if only in the NOW. There is no context, no history, no way of finding stuff, no way of cross referencing – real things can’t occur. That needs to change to stay relevant as ‘the portal’ into Social Media.
3] And talking of Portal – remember when Yahoo (the only survivor) and Excite and TalkCity and …. all tried to set themselves up as the portal – your gateway to the internet ? The net fractured. One place simply could NOT be THE place for everything.
Seems to me that Facebook is trying to be the same for Social Media – but at the end of the day we aren’t all interested in everything about everything about everybody.
SO – we are choosing our own gateways into social media sites of interests – e.g. I use GoodReads for books, Last FM for music and so on ….
Also, I enjoy many people on FB and follow them in other spaces. BUT I have no interest in fashion accessories or dresses or pictures of food – as I have learnt from Pinterest – so I am getting selective about not who I follow – but what I follow them about. Too much of something in a certain pinboard from a single individual – I stop following that pinboard – try doing that in FB.
So people will do things elsewhere, and spend TIME elsewhere. It isn’t about numbers. It is about ENGAGEMENT. FB does not have engagement beyond happy ‘chat rooms’.
4] People are getting very savvy about what FB MIGHT be up to with OUR information behind the scenes. As viable alternatives occur – stuff will move to the new spaces. Google+ isn’t it. Why ? Because it is still only the numbers. It does stuff in a different way. But, to my mind still misses the mark on what it needs to be.
5] FB are about to go public – and will thus need to become more accountable – which will limit what they can do – and if it doesn’t they will hit legal cases.
6] FB are going to go public at a very high valuation – with profits that do not equate to that valuation – unless something changes. So people will realize and move away from their stock. That will reflect in bad news and cascade down to users.
7] The rise of the citizen – I think that RSS and people’s own sites will start to become more relevant as people wake up to – and act AGAINST what FB is doing. The hard part at the moment is making it easy to post and cross link quickly and easily to your own blog (outside of wordpress.org and tumblr) … that can change. Should change. Will change.
What will happen ?
Well – right now I collect my news feeds into a single app and read and select what I want. That reader as a very easy of posting into Instapaper and Tumblr and Posterous and …. but no into my own self hosted blogs. Why is that ?
Why does all my work and curation go into FB. Because it is easy and frictionless. If it was just as easy to post to my own blogs – I would and Facebook would be fed from their Networked Feeds.
If that happens their value goes down.
And talking about that – web sites that you control – with your brand – your content – your reposts will come back.
FB doesn’t even support RSS.
And if you REALLY want to know how controlling Facebook are – try this on for size – amongst many other fascinating facts, including:
The fact is that Facebook controls the news feed like an editor-in-chief controls a newspaper’s front page. It decides what kinds of content its users see. Just last week you probably noticed news feed stories about friends registering to be organ donors. When Facebook created the option in an effort to save lives, it set the weight of the news feed stories created by the feature to ‘high’ to help increase registrations, and it worked.