Why Facebook Might Disappear In The Next Five Years
May 8, 2012
What a headline!
It came from Eric Jackson – a Forbes.com contributor.
Jackson's theory goes like this: "With each succeeding generation in the Internet, it seems the prior generation can't quite wrap its head around the subtle changes that the next generation brings," noting how Web 1.0 [Google] type companies did a great job of aggregating data and presenting it in an easy to digest portal fashion but they "never really seemed to grasp the importance of Web 2.0 - building a social community."
And now, Web 2.0 [Facebook] type companies appear to be unsure how to adapt to the new criterion – mobile. Jackson elaborates: "The failed history of Web 1.0 companies adapting to the world of social suggests that Facebook will be as woeful at adapting to mobile as Google was to social." (Mark Zuckerberg did admit in his IPO filing earlier this year that company is having a hard time monetizing mobile.)
Now, I've never been one for predictions and especially these days. Ivan Braiker, CEO of Hipcricket, said it best at the NAB Show last month, "Everything is happening too fast to predict anything."
But if you consider the lack of adaption and evolution that has disrupted so many companies in the past few years, consider this question:
If Facebook really isn't the main platform in five years, how did you make the social giant work for you at its prime?
To offer an effective answer - can you first say "yes" to all (or most) of the following questions:
- Did you serve and acknowledge the fans – so much so that you were able to collect information and tap into a new league of listeners – the social mouthpieces?
- Did you strengthen the assets you own?
- Did you encourage and embrace user generated content, perhaps by creating a pool of "citizen journalists?"
- Did the company's internal infrastructure change in order to meet the needs of the brands socially connected fans?
- Can you apply intelligence towards the continuation of building a social brand on future platforms because you studied fan behavior/expectations on Facebook?
If you can answer "yes" to those questions – then your brand will be even stronger in five years.
Sadly, most brands come up short and here's why:
"Landlord Zuckerberg's" platform has changed consumer behavior forever. Part of it is about something that radio is not used to - fans having their own voices and their own audiences. People no longer just want to consume information – they want to participate, share, and be heard.
Zuck also offers radio the most incredible rented gateway to the spaces that broadcasters already own – the FM/AM signal, website, apps, podcasts, the stream, etc….
But Facebook is not always looked at from a strategic view. Between the NAB Show in Vegas and the Worldwide Radio Summit in Hollywood last month, there was a lot of discussion about how to "game" fans socially and secretly collect their data. And there was much too little conversation about how to serve and strengthen connections and assets authentically.
Maybe it's just easier to be "gamey." After all, we do see spikes – especially in PPM – when we contest so perhaps it makes sense to transfer those programming tactics onto Facebook.
But social isn't a programming tactic. (And it's certainly not a sales tactic.) If anything -it's a people tactic. It's where you build an actual conversation strategy to earn permission to be on your fans' turf each day.
The social sphere is where radio's new league of listeners live – cruising Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and when they see their favorite brand on their preferred platform it's like "Cool, WXYZ is at the party, too!"
However, brands have a tendency to become "that person" at the party that tries to sell or push crap on you when everyone is just trying to have a good time. And sometimes – not with every radio station – basic fundamentals are being missed.
Too often the "party" between fans and brands start and end on Facebook with no tactics to pull people into the spaces stations actually own. And stations often come up short when it comes to tapping into the background of the uber social fans.
So, if you believe - Eric Jackson's piece – and it's a good piece there's still a few years left in Facebook.
Maybe now is the time to ask your team, "What do we even want out of Facebook?"
Maybe it's strengthening the assets you own. Maybe it's tapping into your brands "Special Forces." Maybe it's focusing on building smaller, more nimble databases driven by motivated relationships, rather than relying solely on one large, often random database built on superficial bribes and contests.
So maybe Step One is to decide what you're even doing socially in the first place. What is it you want to get out of it?
Get it while you can.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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