Some thoughts on the current debate about Facebook’s death and why this won’t happen anytime soon

In the past few weeks I hear and read more and more questionable stories about Facebook’s death ahead. There have been a series of articles on leading media outlets spreading the word about Facebook’s death – probably because they don’t have anything better to report on. Time magazine and The Guardian have written about this for example – just to name two. They both refer to this study by the Princeton University in the US. Even a local radio stations here in Stuttgart, Germany covered this “breaking news” while I was driving to a meeting in my car this morning. Funny that the radio is reporting on this – they should have been dead already, if we believed the experts 5 years ago. 

For me this is just a big bunch of crap being told to the masses and it actually makes me wanna vomit! I assume that we’re experiencing yet another campaign from someone who actually benefits from such “bad news” for Facebook. Propaganda is probably the better word to explain what is going on. It could be Wall Street trying to move stock prices. It could be the competition trying to damage FB’s leadership position – who knows. But I’m sure that if someone would dig a little bit deeper into this case – we would find some hints. If you ask me – this is clearly some evil PR machinery working against Facebook. There are enough players in the market who’d love to see Facebook going down – at least they wish it would. Think of Google struggling to get Google Plus going or Yahoo falling far behind in the last decade – who knows.

5 reasons why I think that Facebook will not die anytime soon:

  1. Facebook is the leading social network in today’s world and it’s part of 1,3 billion lives – not sure what the exact number is, but it’s probably quite accurate. The average person is too “lazy” to leave Facebook and it’s friends and family behind to go somewhere else and start new. Humans don’t like to change often. This doesn’t mean that they are too big to fail (ask Kodak!). But they are in a very good position to keep leading this game.
  2. Facebook is more than a social network – they are an internet giant. They’ve built a great team and hired lots of talent which is able to take wise decisions. The social network is their core offering right now, but we will see much more things happening. Think of a social layer within the internet which allows people to use their data across all of the internet to make better decision and “surf” more conveniently, etc.
  3. Their bank account is full of money to be strategically invested into partnerships and acquisitions as it happens already. Instagram being one of the best moves in this case, but there are many more in their portfolio already.
  4. Facebook is well prepared for the mobile era and they have build the foundation to keep playing a major role in this space. They optimized their mobile offering and moved into the mobile advertising space with their own ad network recently.
  5. Teens might partially leave Facebook and jump to other platforms, but we will also see more growth in emerging markets which will compensate this “loss”. Facebook already owns some of the new destinations of teens, e.g. Instagram. They will also be able to learn and apply some of the lessons they learn from the new platforms for their core social network.

My advice to Mark Zuckerberg and his team to remain where they are – on top:

  • Don’t be greedy and don’t allow Wall Street to dictate your business model. What happened in the past few years was turning Facebook into an advertising space which already pissed off users. Don’t spam their feed! Think about alternative business models because with all of the data you have and the reach you’ve build, there is smarter stuff you can do. Advertising dollars and media space is old school. People are sick of it. Seth Godin made a great point about permission based marketing in 2008 already and we’ve never been more prepared to actually make it happen. Data, tech, infrastructure and consumers are ready for it.
  • Be closer to your user base, be transparent and don’t fuck around with data and privacy. Stand next to your users and far away from governments, NSA and co… People are willing to give you information and data, if you use them wisely and add value to their lives. Don’t betray them (again).
  • Keep the “Hackathon” spirit alive and innovate everyday. With all the great startups who joined your team and all the great minds on board you should push innovation ahead. Think big. Be bold.
  • Focus on becoming the “internet within the internet” – a social layer which allows people to move around in the web and always have their data with them. Allow them to make better decisions based on their social graph and enrich their lives with everything you know.
  • The biggest opportunity Facebook has is to make technology more human. Think of the “human algorithm” Brian Solis mentioned at Le Web 2013. There’s a lot of meaningful stuff you can do for humanity with the data and tech you own. Do it!

As someone who’s working in and with social media for several years I can claim to have a deeper understanding about what’s going on, however I might not have all the details right. I try to make sense from the insights and experience I have. I encourage all of you to form your own opinions and not just follow what the media pass around.

Please, feel free to add your points and share your opinion in the comments. I am curious to hear what your take on this is.  Thank you!



Image credits:

Update: Brilliant Facebook response to the Princeton study. You have to read this article! 😀

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