It seems today that in many regards, Facebook has become the de-facto owner of the social media space. Of virtual identities, global connections, information sharing and online consciousness combined in a neat package. In fact, so deep-seated it is in many of our lives that it’s hard to imagine it ever losing dominance, let alone fade away. Looking at the iron-grip Facebook has over social media, which even Google’s brainchild Google+ failed to break, claims such as ‘Facebook will disappear in 5-8 years’ seems almost outrageous. But as time slides further, cracks are now beginning to show in Facebook’s otherwise historic online monopoly.
Is Facebook on the right track?
Granted that Facebook has king-size momentum and un-paralleled reach on its side, but there have been several issues raising eyebrows of doubt recently. Let’s have a look at some of the most prominent:
- The IPO Flop-Show: Facebook going public was expected to be the most remarkable IPO in history with hopes pinned on it to single handedly reverse the misfortunes of technology stocks and shore-up investor sentiment. That didn’t happen! In fact, the stock nosedived with a speed equaled only by the enthusiasm it generated. As of writing, Facebook stock is swiveling at about $28.23, compared to the $38 at its opening in May 2012 and the $50 it was projected to reach. For the most famous tech company of today’s time, it has been a sobering experience.
- Overall Strategy: Facebook’s strategy for growth seems to be hinged solely on the number of people registered on the site. Just before its IPO, the company undertook some very expensive acquisitions such as that of Instagram and Face.com. Questions were raised about the amount of money paid for these companies at a time when revenue generation is still not on track fully. So far, it has also not been able to do much about the declining interest of advertisers who are facing challenges on the platform in turning general interest into conversions and profit.
- Going Mobile: Facebook’s mobile arm has received nothing but stinging criticism, both from partners and customers. The average user complains that the mobile app is too clunky and unusable, while Facebook’s continued inability to earn from the mobile platform is a massive sore point for investors and new stock-holders.
- Social Media Fatigue: Now that almost every internet user on the planet is registered on atleast one social media network, there are more and more stories of people growing weary and deleting their online profiles. And Facebook is no exception. Complaints say that it eats up a lot of time and delivers little value in return. Some even go to the extent of labeling it as an alternate reality where things are very different from the real world and not everything is what it seems. These unhappy users may or may or may not have a genuine point, but given amount of exposure to services like Facebook, fatigue is bound to set in sooner or later; especially if the company fails to evolve into an indispensable resource for people, like what the Google search engine has become for many.
All this is not to write off Facebook, of course. After all, it still is the single largest social network in the world and one that has its many uses in the personal and well as the corporate environments. But as the company is learning quickly, converting personal data of 900 million people into a revenue machine is no small task and the future will definitely be a dangerous tightrope walk if some clear decisions are not made right away. In the race to become everything, is it possible that Facebook might end up being very little?
Either way, the future of social media will be interesting and somewhat intense.
- Team Octane