Facebook's Biggest Problem is Not Privacy, But It's Size
If you ask 10 people what their biggest gripe is with Facebook, most would answer "privacy." I tend to agree that the social network had taken its own sweet time to attend to privacy issues, but I contend that there is another, potentially more threatening problem -- its size.
Facebook numbers in excess of 800 million users, at least half of which log on each and every day and often multiple times per day. Those same users interact with over 900 million pieces of content - Pages, Groups, Events, etc. Every day, over 250 million photos are uploaded.
Due to its enormity, Facebook users are drowning in content. What does that mean for smaller ecommerce merchants? That we face an even greater challenge to get content seen.
So onerous is the problem that Facebook power users are beginning to morph over to Google+. In a speech at the recent Web 2.0 Summit, Napster founder and Facebook investor Sean Parker said, "I don’t think privacy is an issue. That may be controversial but I don’t think that’s Facebook’s biggest problem. I think Facebook’s biggest problem is the glut of information that Facebook’s power users are overwhelmed with," according to a New York Times article. "The strategic threat to Facebook is that power users have gone to Twitter or to Google+," he added.
While no one knows whether Google+ has the moxie to topple Facebook, there is no doubt that it is growing at a phenomenal rate -- up to 25 million users in less than a month following its launch. Now that Google+ is open to anyone with a Google account, that rate could continue, at least for the foreseeable future.
In my view, the real danger to Facebook is that these highly connected power users will take their networks with them. I can imagine a domino effect happening as a result.
By no means am I sounding a death knell to Facebook. For the average person, the social network become the operating system of the social web and the central nervous system of online activity. As a result, where ecommerce merchants are concerned, it cannot be abandoned.
My purpose in this post is to provide some insight into which way the wind may be blowing. With that in mind, allow me to provide the following pieces of advice:
Pay attention to Google+. Once business profiles are enabled, its potential as a marketing tool is bound to increase, especially if tied to other Google services such as Adwords or Google Apps.
Don't abandon Facebook - Its potential as a marketing tool is only now beginning to be realized. In fact, we're still in an early stage of development where ecommerce is concerned, but great strides are being made.
Go where your customers are - The ultimate criteria for where you maintain a social presence should be determined by one factor more than any other: are your customers there? Google+ may be the hot (or not) new social network, but if your customers aren't there, it makes little sense for you to be. (The same is true of Facebook, for that matter.)
I am a technology early adopter, but a pragmatist, as well. I've been meddling in this space long enough to know that every new social networking platform or app is not a big deal, despite its claims to the contrary. The difficulty lies with trying to identify which ones are.
That's where I live, with one eye focused on finding practical ways to leverage the use of social media at present and the other trained on the future of social commerce and social media. I promise to report what I see.
Facebook needs to get past the one-size-fits-all UI. Not all users share the tech gene leaving many people frustrated with the experience. This further amplifies my perspective that on facebook, users are the product. If Google were smart, they might consider a way to let users try on different pre-defined UIs. Well, that and give us a robust API. Even Google employees are frustrated by the lack of emphasis on rapid deployment of features.
Sam Masonspops Lee says:
Facebook is a great driver of trends... But it seems that they are copying right now which is never good because now they are chasing.
Facebooking has put a lot of plates on my table and has paid lots of bills for me so I continue to use it for business and marketing purposes. But like anything great there will be competition. But until there is another platform with my clients I will continue to invest my time into Facebook. But no I am wondering is Facebook to Big Too Fail??? haha