All good things must come to an end, isn’t that right? Nothing can last forever.
If you’re one of over 950 million active members on Facebook, it’s a little tough to imagine contemporary life without the world’s most popular social network. Being able to just reach into your pocket or purse and see where your friends are, what they’re doing, and what they’re thinking has become the No. 1 knee-jerk reaction when sitting or standing idle. Not being able to do that would be too much for many to imagine.
Well, let’s not go off on any doomsday scenarios just yet. After five-plus years of usurping MySpace (ahhhh, the early days!) as the dominant social network, Facebook has done a pretty maddening – sorry, ADMIRABLE job evolving and keeping its functions fresh in the eyes of daily users. There doesn’t seem to be a week or month that goes by that doesn’t involve seeing an upgrade to Facebook’s layout or functionality. Frankly, I was a little disappointed to see the landing page feature go. I thought it presented a very attractive, glossy “magazine cover”-like effect on business pages. Going to a company’s page was like opening up a magazine and reading the contents inside. But…that’s neither here nor there. We’ll make do, and we have quite well, with Timeline.
With the wizard, Mark Zuckerberg, behind the curtain along with the current leadership, only the point when innovation and re-invention cease to occur will Facebook bite the proverbial bullet. Even today, Facebook’s core strength still centers on what made it great: CONTENT. A lot has changed in Facebook World, but their ace in the hole, their core strength, remains the content individual users or businesses share with friends or fans. Gordon Gekko said it himself, “The most valuable commodity I know of is information.” Facebook provides all the information its users care about in a visually appealing and organized fashion. If Facebook’s leadership continues to focus on this core principle, the company should do just fine whether they’re still at the top of the mountain or near it.
That principle, among several others we’ll never know about, is why I believe MySpace failed as spectacularly as it did. THEY LOST FOCUS ON WHAT TRULY MATTERED. Right around 2007 you could feel the social network move toward the money, and that money lied with the music capabilities the site offered and the music companies behind them. MySpace saw a massive opportunity for consistent revenue by partnering with the artists’ music studios. Well, that’s great for the studios, but MySpace lost focus on what Facebook’s entire platform was built around: the CONTENT. MySpace went for the short-term lettuce and lost any long-term potential they might have had. They painted themselves into a corner from which they couldn’t get out. In some ways they never did. As it turns out, in 2010 they surprisingly embraced that which failed them. They turned their strategy into focusing on promoting artists’ music. Time will tell whether a social media site can survive without it’s core goal being content generation and connecting people.
Facebook may indeed bite it someday, but it sure won’t be because they didn’t provide the information its users were looking for. Whether an existing social networking site overtakes it or a future site, who knows? As much as I adore and enjoy Twitter and to a lesser extent Pinterest, those networks, in their current incarnations, don’t have the features to overtake Facebook. They’re contemporary tools, but they simply don’t have enough oomph. Innovation, diversity of offerings, and forward-thinking have kept Facebook on top despite the rise of Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Will Facebook ever experience its end of days? Who knows? There are too many factors leaning either way to really tell. I figure I’ll just enjoy the ride.