Is The Writing On The Wall For Facebook?
Has Facebook reached its peak?
It appears Facebook is becoming weaker ever since its IPO offering last year. The platform has become so focused on pleasing shareholders’ (and its own) monetary needs, that it has forgotten about the “little people” – you know, the ones that actually use the platform.
Four headlines in the past few months further show the writing on the wall.
1. Numbers have proven that teenagers are fleeing Facebook for less dramatic social media platforms. Aka, where their parents cannot find them.
2. The newest kid on the block – Snapchat refused to sell out to Facebook for a $3 Billion price tag. Speculation revealed the app owners sensed weakness and knew their app was worth much more than the money being offered.
What This Means
The Next Generation Doesn’t Believe in Facebook. As seen in bullet points 1 & 2 above, the fact that teenagers are rejecting Facebook is HUGE. They are the future of digital media and if they don’t believe in you, you are in trouble. Not only are teenage users rejecting to use the platform, young adult developers (Snapchat) are holding out too. This has a negative impact across the board.
I have seen it myself. I recently spoke to the Salem State University Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSSA) and asked the group of 30 college students if they were on Facebook. Three raised their hands. This translates to 1% of those in the room that use the platform. This is very scary considering these are Communications professionals who will be entering the workforce in just a few years.
Whether we want to believe it or not, the younger generation has the voice. Where they flock, others will follow. Remember MySpace? It was “cool” until too many people were using it and then it became old news.
I do have to give Facebook credit. They aren’t going down without a fight and are drastically changing their platform to stay fresh against the newbies. However, it is becoming abundantly clear that Facebook has become the 40-year-old, teenager-want-to-be that wears clothes that are too young and too small for their aging body.
If it isn’t broken – don’t fix it.
The other dramatic shift is that Facebook has isolated one of its largest believers – businesses. Facebook enticed businesses to come to their platform and create Pages to generate loyal customer followings. Then they changed the rules. The new algorithm change ultimately says, “Thanks for using us to build an audience to talk too, we are now limiting how you interact with them – BUT for a fee we can work something out.”
For those of you who haven’t managed a business page it is VERY different from a personal account. Your fans need to like you, you can’t reach out in private messages unless they reach out to your first, and the list goes on and on. The payoff is the detailed analytics you receive from your Page.
Facebook has taken the Page limitations to a different level. With this new algorithm, on average only 2% of a businesses’ audience are seeing the business posts in their news feeds. Facebook claims it is trying to provide more “quality” content for users. This doesn’t help anyone. If businesses want updates seen bad enough, they will pay for it.
Facebook is punishing both users and businesses for using the platform the way Facebook told them to in the first place.
• Users who have opted in to business pages, want to see the content. If they feel the content isn’t quality enough they can unfollow the page.
• Businesses have spent much time investing in their Pages to lure their audience in and engage with them. Now Facebook is changing the rules of the game and drastically changing the conversation dynamic.
Basic business economics show us that products and services go through a life cycle: development, introduction, growth, maturity & decline. What is happening is that Facebook is finding itself in the maturity/decline side of the life cycle. They are making dramatic shifts and trying tactics to keep the platform alive. Acquiring Instagram and attempting to buy out Snapchat were smart moves. However, what Facebook failed to see is that you cannot isolate your users.
It will be interesting to witness the fall out of their dramatic decisions. I believe some businesses will cave & start paying to have their posts seen. They have already invested many resources in developing their audience. I think most businesses are unwilling to invest & will shift to other social media platforms. Twitter, Instagram, Google+ & the newbie Snapchat (along with many others) are waiting in the wings.