Facebook has stood atop the mountain for some time now. The original Social Network remains the undisputed champion, but lately the brand has been showing some cracks in the façade. Their lack of innovation, questionable decisions and shifting demographic has many questioning the long-term health of the network. In many ways victory has defeated Facebook. Here are four ways Facebook is showing its complacency.
If the only trick Facebook has up its sleeve is lifting stuff we’ve already had for years, it makes you wonder if they still have the drive to innovate.
The purchase of Instagram was hailed as a bold and brilliant move back in 2012 and the $1 billion price tag seems relatively quaint by today’s standards. But bringing Instagram on-board was pretty much where the forward thinking stopped. Since then, Snapchat has grown into a legit competitor and preferred social network of bold creative campaigns as well as the under-25 crowd. Facebook’s response to Snapchat was to simply copy Snapchat’s features years later. Adding doodling features and timing-out selected posts hasn’t exactly secured Instagram’s spot on top. Instagram had an excellent opportunity to apply these innovative Snapchat features to regular posts, not simply ones that time out in 24 hours. While they were busy ripping off Snapchat, they also failed to include Snapchat’s ‘view’ feature, which allows you to see exactly who viewed your content. If the only trick Facebook has up its sleeve is lifting stuff we’ve already had for years, it makes you wonder if they still have the drive to innovate.
Facebook can’t even get their own news right these days.
The death of organic reach on Facebook seems like a story that never goes away. A quick search of Google for ‘Organic Reach Decline’ returns stories from 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 on the first page alone. The decline in organic reach always coincides with in an attempt to alter behaviors on Facebook. Back in 2012, they dropped the organic reach to increase ad spend. In 2014, the organic reach was dropped on posts featuring links in an attempt to keep users on Facebook longer. In 2015, organic reach on third-party videos plummeted to encourage more uploading directly to Facebook. If a person goes out of their way to like or follow a page or person, then they should have the reasonable expectation that that page or individual’s content will appear before them on a semi-regular basis. It is the user’s decision to continue to engage or unfollow. The free market of ideas should be what dictates reach.
It may be only a matter of time until someone builds a better mousetrap.
Facebook can’t even get their own news right these days. Facebook recently implemented a new algorithm to its ‘trending’ feature designed to select the most popular topics, keywords and articles. This algorithm replaced the actual humans who were monitoring the network, curating the content and writing descriptions. The result was an absolute disaster that promoted false stories, memes and political takes. Granted, the goal of everything these days seems to be to replace humans with code, but the news requires more nuance than an algorithm is capable of producing. Did this switch improve their product?
The final, and by far most egregious error Facebook is making is censorship. Whether you’re on the right or the left, there is a never-ending list of complaints around censoring content. And it’s not just current politics; history itself is being censored as well. Twitter is already facing a huge backlash around recent censorship efforts that have put the sale of the company in question. How long can Facebook continue to play games with its users and interject when it comes to content?
Facebook is already considered a dinosaur to the post-millennial generation. They view Facebook as the platform of their parents and have zero loyalty to the brand. Facebook shouldn’t always assume it will be the #1 social network destination. They may be the originators, but it may be only a matter of time until someone builds a better mousetrap.
Michael Dennis, Content Creator and Digital Strategist