Facebook is Dead
Facebook may not know it yet, but it is dead. It’s the condemned man; it’s the walking dead; it’s plugged in to the machine that goes bing.
It’s only just started having a little thrash around as the rage against the dying of the light starts to simmer, but if you look closely, you can see the signs. Unless there is a miracle cure, Facebook will not be here by the end of the 2020s, maybe the mid-2020s, possibly even the early 2020s. Web declines have historically been precipitous, swift and terminal.
#Facebook #SocialMedia #Instagram #NewsFeed #Innovation #DigitalMarketing
Why is Facebook dying?
Facebook has no OS Ownership
The cornerstone to any ecosystem is the physical, or virtual ownership of the device where you surface. Apple has its phones, Google has Android, Microsoft has Windows. At any point, any of these OS owners could choose to cut Facebook off, or restrict access, or force Facebook to pay to have access to its users.
This would be a death-knell for Facebook. As it is, it should be an unacceptable risk.
The Facebook NewsFeed is dying
It’s chock-full of worthless spam. Yes, you may have liked something a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean you like it now. Have you noticed how little engagement there is on Facebook currently?
Brands which were quick to rush to the easy lure of Facebook traffic have started to realise it’s much harder to justify the Pay to Play relationship where you provide the entertainment *and* you have to pay for the privilege of being shown. Facebook’s big mistake here is not sharing the spoils of its traffic, either in terms of views or actions, or in revenue sharing. It got greedy.
You don’t have to run many artificial intelligence algorithms to see that posting and engagement rates have dropped on Facebook. People have stopped sharing as they get more wary of privacy and advertising, and for anyone under 25, it’s yesterday’s news. As more rubbish gets pumped into their news feed, it becomes less interesting and they engage less. As they engage less, there’s less interaction and more rubbish gets pumped in. It’s a desperate slow dive into oblivion.
Facebook News is Dying
As the NewsFeed started to die, Facebook realised it needed to pull in and retain eyeballs. The surest way to do that has always been news. Luckily, it had willing participants in news organisations.
News brands in their desperation to break the yoke of Google News flocked to Facebook, eager to engage directly with users. Instead they debased themselves by chasing each click with “10 amazing cat videos” and forgot the things that made them valuable resources in the first place: news, analysis and opinion. Already a few organizations have started to move away from Facebook. They just don’t make the money, nor do they retain ownership of the click. (See, it’s that ownership thing again?)
In its place is Fake News. Misrepresented, one-eyed, incomplete news which only aims to affirm rather than inform, and like all bad news, it spreads like wildfire. Fake News is one of Facebook’s threats. That is what makes its comment threads deeper than the murkiest cesspools of Reddit. They scare people, especially with real names, and engagement drops. P!ss and vinegar are great for start-up eyeballs, but death for long term board success.
The Company dies when innovation dies
I don’t know how many times we’ve seen companies get big, then massive, then huge before they become a lumbering hulk of middle-management inertia where innovation is stifled by meetings, KPIs and Death by PowerPoint.
Recently, if Snapchat makes a move Facebook copies it. If another company innovates, Facebook buys it. This stagnation is a sure sign that the company is on the edge of its death throes. Sure, it has heaps of money, heaps of customers, but it is in the process of ripping all the money it can from its cash cows. Extraction rather than innovation is key at the moment. Its so bad, that Mark Zuckerberg appears to be limbering up for a run at being President in 4-8-12 years time.
Even Instagram can’t save Facebook
A big issue with Insta, is monetisation. You’re seeing it currently with Influencers and Influencer fraud being all the rage with Insta.
Sponsored posts are fine, but when you have users able to make $XX,XXX per influencer post, you know something is up with the monetisation side of things. Facebook doesn’t make a dime off influencer posts, but that is where the big bucks budgets will end up going because returns from standard ads are so poor.
Facebook Users are withering
It used to be sweet when your grandma signed up to Facebook. Now it seems like they are the only active users left. There is no secret elixir of youthful enthusiasm rushing in to fill the void as the oldies shuffle off.
The youngies are all in messaging apps where it is much more difficult to reach them and much more intrusive if you do. It’s also easier for small groups to shift to new messaging apps if you do start running obnoxious ads in the middle of their ‘private’ threads. Even if your current demographic is rich and generous with cash, you can’t survive long term if there is no following generation. Eventually you’ll just end up running ads to memorial accounts.
Monetisation is dropping
Aside from the other minor issues listed above, monetization is running into issues on Facebook. The NewsFeed is running out of inventory. There aren’t enough organic posts to expand ad numbers without having them bumping into each other in a long line. Fake news and toxic threads are not where advertisers want to be, as Google and YouTube have discovered.
Their current spots are limited, so the only option is to expand the number of ad spots. IntraPost is an option. It works on other forums (Facebook is fancy, personal forum), although it wouldn’t be well-loved as they currently run. Intra-comment is another option they should explore. Again these work on other forums but would not be well-loved by users. It would at least start Facebook down a very clear path of honest, transparent advertising.
What can save Facebook?
Funnily, copying can save Facebook. YouTube is ripe to be copied. Facebook has realised video is truly king of content (about 12 years after the rest of the web), but it doesn’t really currently have much of a video platform. It has the installed user base to drive take-up, and it has the smarts / ability to do it.
It just needs to make it simpler than YouTube, learn the lessons about revenue / traffic sharing and go for it.
It’s killed personal sharing, injuring itself in the process, but with video, there’s a chance it can retain the eyeballs, clicks and time on site to please advertisers and users alike.
In memoriam of Facebook
I’ll miss Facebook.
It’s been fun, but every time I go to use it now, I suddenly think this is *old* technology.
It’s like revisiting web pages from the 90s (marquee font and favourite pizza toppings and all), and connecting via dial-up modem which beeps and splutters at you.
It’s just missing that *now* factor, and the Facebook NewsFeed is missing that *wow* factor to keep me refreshing, refreshing, refreshing.
- Facebook is dead because it has no OS ownership;
- The NewsFeed is dying;
- Facebook News is dying;
- Innovation is dying;
- Instagram can’t save Facebook;
- User are withering;
- Monetisation is drying up;
- Only YouTube might save Facey.