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Is Facebook Dead?

Updated on December 29, 2018
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Facebook Ready To Be Put To Rest

Will we all be attending Facebook's funeral In coming years?
Will we all be attending Facebook's funeral In coming years? | Source

I used to scoff at Facebook critics that have been calling for the demise of the popular social networking site for years, as the site has grown at a breathtaking pace and has quickly become a mainstay in popular culture and many people’s daily lives.

Yes, it is easy to pick away at any fast-growing company and find faults, but I saw the Facebook frenzy all around me and understood the potential goldmine that Facebook is for its advertising potential. After all, Facebook’s users tell advertisers what the “Like” and make it easy for them to serve targeted advertisements that have a much better chance of selling a product or service than traditional mass advertising. At its core, that is the power of Facebook, and those that dismiss it are being foolish. Facebook has the potential to be an advertising blockbuster, with huge revenues and earnings that could materialize from targeted advertising, if the company plays their cards correctly. So, it is not easy to write Facebook as dead.

Facebook's Gravestone

Some critics of Facebook are already making plans to visit Facebook's grave.
Some critics of Facebook are already making plans to visit Facebook's grave. | Source

A Pew Research Poll Provide Insights Into Facebook’s Status

Even before Pew Research, the renowned American research firm, released their polling data in early 2013 that indicated that Facebook was losing its appeal among many American users, I found myself wondering is Facebook dead? I am a semi-regular Facebook user, certainly not a Facebook addict like some of my Facebook friends. Even with over 100 Facebook friends, I started seeing long lapses at times between friend updates, then I noticed that instead of updates and active discussions (what Facebook was like when I first joined), I started seeing more sharing of captioned photos with little or no discussion dominating my Facebook feed. Finally, I noticed some avid Facebook users I was connected to quit and delete their accounts. Obviously, some users had had enough of Facebook.

Instead of being the fast-growing social networking site that everyone was talking about, Facebook started to look like something people were growing tired of using, which made me wonder whether there was something to those who think Facebook’s days are numbered. I don’t mean dead tomorrow or even dead next year, but in the long run, is the Facebook social networking model going to run its course and die a slow death, as users move on to other pursuits and their business gets eclipsed by other social networking sites? Will Facebook itself be eclipsed in the same way that Facebook eclipsed MySpace, which was at one time the dominant social networking site? That remains to be seen, but it is starting to look like the Facebook’s critics that have long called for the site’s eventual demise might be onto something, at least in the very long run.

Pew Research’s Internet and American Life Project performed a comprehensive survey of Facebook users that was made public in early 2013. The survey found that 61 percent of Facebook users admitted that they took a hiatus from Facebook for at least two or more weeks in the recent past. Their reasons for tuning out Facebook varied from being bored of Facebook, to finding the content to be too irrelevant, to finding too much drama (as if most people’s lives don’t have enough drama already). Twenty percent of Facebook users surveyed by Pew said they decided to take a break from Facebook because they were too busy to keep up with the continuous status updates in their Facebook newsfeed. This was the number one reason cited for taking a vacation from Facebook.

It Is Dead With Young People,The Instragram Connection

With one demographic group, the answer appears to be yes it is dead. This is very worrisome for Facebook’s future since this demographic group is teens and pre-teens (a/k/a/ tweens), who have turned to other social networking sites to communicate and have generally avoided Facebook. One of these alternative social networking sites is Instagram, which explains the head-scratching acquisition of Instagram by Facebook during 2012. Why would the all-mighty Facebook care about a photo sharing social networking site such as Instagram that had no significant revenue? It appears Facebook was looking at where the young people were going to social network and didn’t want to be left out. But will Facebook be left out in the long run by this up and coming generation that doesn’t even remember a time before the Internet existed? That may be the crux of the problem facing Facebook in their efforts to avoid becoming another Internet dinosaur, left for dead, like MySpace.

Not So Fast On Writing Off Facebook For Dead

Many argue: don’t be so fast to write Facebook off as dead. The Pew study found Facebook’s user base is enormous, with two-thirds of American adults that have Internet connections maintaining a Facebook account. Other popular social networking sites, such as Twitter and LinkedIn can boast only a fraction of Facebook’s user base, with Twitter only being used by about 16 percent of American Internet users and LinkedIn garnering a user rate of 20 percent. Facebook’s dominance in the number of users, in advertising, and in cash flow, give the company a huge advantage going forward in the ever-changing social networking space. After all, if you are looking for your friends, the best place to look for them and find them is on Facebook. The same goes for advertisers; Facebook provides some of the best opportunities for truly targeted advertising. Facebook needs to innovate and make strategic acquisitions to survive in the long run, which is why they are constantly tweaking their user interface and why they bought Instagram and will likely make additional strategic acquisitions in the future.

The thing that makes Facebook’s future so uncertain and why Facebook’s death has to be considered, despite its current overwhelming position in social networking, is because in some ways Facebook’s greatest strengths are also its greatest weaknesses. Yes, if one wants to find their friends online, Facebook is the place to find them. But, what if a few of one’s closest friends delete their Facebook accounts? How likely is someone to stick around on Facebook once their closest friends are gone? Also, while Facebook could be an advertising powerhouse with users being served highly targeted advertisements in a way that could become extremely valuable to marketers, how far can Facebook push their advertising to their users without turning them off and causing them to find other social networking venues that aren’t treating them like a demographic advertising commodity?

E-mail still works pretty well for keeping in touch with close friends and remains an alternative to Facebook. Who knows what else might come along that improves the social networking experience and renders Facebook irrelevant? If the tide starts turning against Facebook, the number of Facebook users could drop rapidly and the company’s revenues could fall just as quickly since the primary advantage that Facebook currently has in the social networking space is its dominant positions. Once that position is gone, Facebook could unravel quickly, as users find fewer friends using Facebook, and less reason for themselves to remain Facebook users.

I wouldn’t be writing Facebook’s obituary just yet, but for the first time in a long time, this question is not as taboo or ridiculous as it once sounded.

Is Facebook Dead Poll

Do You Think Facebook Is Dead (In The Short or Long Run)?

See results

Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook future in doubt

© 2013 John Coviello


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