Facebook is, undoubtedly, the worlds biggest social network. This has been the case for years. However, like all big companies riding high on success, there will inevitably be a downfall. Nothing lasts forever. Nokia use to be the worlds mobile phone giant, now it struggles to make the top five. Windows used to be the best computer company, now Apple is number one. It’s natural, things change and you can’t always keep up. Fads come and go. And Facebook has been around a long time now and it’s fair to say that it is beginning to struggle to maintain constant and consistent user engagement and interest. They are constantly changing the interface to keep it new and exciting, they are creating new focus on how we use it, youngsters preferring phone based use and so that’s where the innovation lies. But has Facebook come to the end of its reign as the social media overlord?
It’s Getting Needy
Not content with being just a social network, they have bought out many apps and allow full integrations with others via their extensive API (Application Platform Interface) to ensure that it covers all topics. Instagram means they have a leading photo app and fist around the photography world, integrating with Spotify means all your friends know what it is your listening to at any given time, news apps means you can always let your friends know what you have been reading. It wants to be the website of the world, the hub of all knowledge, entertainment, social interaction, news and affairs and it doesn’t seem to care who knows it. It wants to be Google, Facebook, Flickr, radio and TV and the world news all at once. There comes a point when user interest is put second to profit and business relations and I think, although Facebook must surely take user experience into consideration, that they are treading a thin line by focusing on how to add this, use that over whether its really needed or relevant at all.
The Gift Of Facebook
Now Facebook lets you send real gifts to your friends! That’s right, engaging with them over their timeline, on their photos, messages or chat isn’t enough for Facebook anymore! Now they let you spend real money by sending them things in the post. It’s moved from social “media” to just plain, real life social interaction. But to me, this is desperation. It feels as though they have run out of ideas, scraping the barrel to release something fun, quirky and interesting. A fad release that wont last long. I can’t imagine anyone really using this feature, I certainly wont. I wouldn’t be impressed if my nearest and dearest thought, “It’s Nik’s Birthday, better get her something good off of Facebook!”… It hardly speaks volumes about effort and thought.
Shameful Privacy Bypasses
Facebook wants everything to be public. Private closed down accounts don’t mean big business in the online world. In fact, it goes out of its way to try to make your content visible to the public. I wont go into it too much as I’ve written about this in-depth before (you can read about here-worth a browse, you may realise your profile is open to the public). They show such shameful respect for their users content rights that I have been tempted to delete my account for a while. I certainly don’t post much on there anymore. They only care about increasing user engagement, advertising targets so they can make money. Your rights as a user come second to these factors.
The Future Is Mobile
You Don’t Have Enough Friends!
If you have read my blog before, you may know that I recently reviewed apps which spam you with pop ups. Facebook was at the top of this list by constantly asking me to add more friends. It really wants everyone to be connected as the more people using it all linked together means more potential for increased engagement which is what the need and want. It doesn’t even allow you to stop the pop ups coming back, either you add all contacts or just press, “Not Now”. It’s desperate and it’s annoying.
Facebook knows that to stay at the top, they have to play the game and innovate around the clock. The problem is, not just for Facebook but for all leading brands, that the longer you are king, the harder it becomes to reign without having to really spread yourself thin defending your space. This means that you release new apps, new layouts, move to this device, add more adverts, buy this app and integrate with these, make money here, spend money there. All like pawns in a business money making game. It becomes public, it becomes obvious that you are struggling to stay afloat, stay important and stay on top. Unfortunately for Facebook, I don’t think they will always be the go to social platform. Pinterest and Twitter are the Princes in the Tower nipping at its heels. It’s ten years old next year, that’s OAP for a corporation, especially in a fast changing, innovating online world. It’s desperate to cling to power, and it shows.