• i like the comparison you draw with McDonalds however there is one challenge with this.

    whilst facebook does incorporate these features into its own space it does not do some of them very well at all.

    the chat app is pretty dire a lot of the time
    messaging is not great either

    What facebook does, and perhaps this is what is meant by the McDonalds comparison is that it relies upon the fact people are addicted to it and know that they don’t need to have a perfect experience every time because people aren’t going anywhere else (because their friends aren’t)

    something will come along one day and surpass facebook although i dont know what that looks liek at the moment. the thing that marketers and consultants need to understand more fully is that its not about the software its about the people who they wish to become customers, understand them more and success will come.

    I’ve seen far too many ppl assume that everyone must be using facebook or worst “facebook is the internet”.

    I cant wait to see what happens next.

  • Interesting prediction, and with some of the stuff I’ve seen on the iPad of late, it’s hard to disagree with. I actually agree that Facebook will also begin to see a long decline ala AOL, but I think the cause will be the next generation – the kids in middle/high school right now – logging in to find it overwhelmed with a 30 and 40-something and an assault of brands.

    There’s been some indication of declining market share for FB among the <18 crowd. If it picks up steam, eventually the marketers will move on to follow the kids, and FB will slide into irrelevancy.

  • I agree with the proposition that *something* will come along to challenge it but I’m not convinced that text is going to be replaced. The thing about text is that we can all create content instantly with very simple tools. A happy snap of funny sight shared via your phone is one thing, but if you want to communicate those thousand words you mention you have to have considerable skill at image creation and composition. Video is even more challenging. A low-tech, stream-of-conciousness rant is one thing, but a well-crafted message can take hours, even with low production values. And our education systems do not teach these things as core skills. And while audio’s easy to create, it’s not always the most user-friendly for the receiver.

    Nonetheless, a very thought provoking discussion!

  • You need only look at the dominance MySpace once held to realize how quickly the top dog can be knocked off its perch.

    That being said, one of the things Facebook has made a habit of is acquiring its challengers or missing pieces. Buying such a visual network would provide integration challenges, but I would not doubt Facebook’s determination for market dominance.

    Facebook purchases this month: Hot Potato, Chai Labs, Friendster patents ($40M)

  • I think another critical flaw with Facebook is a consequence of what you describe: in an effort to be all things to all people and updating the platform SO MUCH, they keep breaking things, moving things from place to place, annoying users and developers alike and ultimately alienating the very people they should be seeking to keep happy.

    I was tweeting about it just yesterday:
    “The more I use Facebook… the less I like Facebook. They change so much it’s hard to keep up: for users and for developers alike.”

  • The research on how people handle more options, versus fewer options, explains why the visual approach works.

    The ABC visual globe and similar UI models replace cluttered text with images, so in effect there are fewer options, which enhances people’s ability to make choices quickly. Plus it looks nice for people who are visual, which is the majority of the population (so I’ve, um, heard).

    The winners will be the social networking platforms that offer experiences featuring simplicity combined with greater perceived enjoyment. I believe that solution will include AI-like filtering, such as helping better content (updates, photos, articles, etc.) reach me at the right time.

  • Great post Geoff and a very interesting angle on how Facebook might go down. Facebook is without question tied to the keyboard and it will be interesting to see what will happen when tactile interfaces take over. That said, I agree with RobynEvansSSAT in that a large percentage of FB users will not abandon text in favour of rich media – not only because of a lack of competence in other media, but because the written word can still communicate nuances which cannot be achieved through other techniques of including oral or visual. It might take a generation touchscreen usage before text becomes an anachronism

  • As usual, you’re always looking ahead, getting prepared to take advantage of the “next great thing”


  • Pingback:Social Media Helps the Gulf (and Other PR Blog Jots) « Media Bullseye – A New Media and Communications Magazine

    […] The Death of Facebook – Geoff Livingston – Colleagues and others are constantly asking my opinion on “the next Facebook.” My answer is always pretty candid: I honestly have no idea what could come along that would overtake Facebook in terms of popularity. From a social marketing standpoint, there are lots of tools out there to help you, but none with the reach of Facebook. At least for now. Geoff Livingston shares a chapter of his new book, contemplating Facebook’s possible defeat. “Isn’t it just a question of time before Facebook meets a competitor with a better, next generation interface that it can’t match? To me, given the context of Internet history and technology development, it’s not an if, but a when. The Fifth Estate moves with what’s hot[.]” […]

  • Geoff, I think you’ve got a great long view perspective, and definitely what the world will look like 3-5 years from now, much less the interwebs, is truly anybody’s guess.

    And true, there’s plenty of research by Christienson and others that shows how disruptive technology usually comes around and unseats the dominant big dog in a certain industry. In the case of Facebook, they keep adapting and integrating new things.

    Could and will something come along as a total game-changer? Of course…but in the meantime, Facebook has reached a certain level of critical mass that has embedded itself into our everyday lives and pop culture. I mean come on, 10% of the world’s population is on Facebook now. Plus, it’s FREE! Old habits die slow, especially fast food habits (which I’d say Facebook qualifies – ha!).

    So I think we’ll continue to see a shift in Facebook usage, especially at a demographic and sociological level (different ages, different usages, etc…). But unless there’s some huge Facebook scandal/mistep, I believe these boys are here to stay for a good while.

    I like Mike McGrath’s point – FB already is too big to fail. LOL!

  • Mike and Michael: People said the same thing about AOL. AOL still exists, but as a shell of its former self.

  • Change or become obsolete seems to be the issue at hand. FaceBook has a great API that can be adapted for all of these technologies, but it is still a closed network. If Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg would simply open up the News Feed (new name they are using for their old “walls”) to allow people to post to people that aren’t logged in (very simple change for FB), they could solve all of the problems you mentioned above, providing a Twitter effect, which is what the “walls” were originally based on (stolen, copied, whatever).

  • i completely agree. i googled this topic because I started to think about it. You hit the nail on the head.

  • I read today that about 100k people in the UK deleted their FB accounts in 2011.
    Sure that is from a total base in the country of close to 30M. However I think the long slow death of FB has begun.

  • every journey has its ending.  FB will die one way or another … it’s only a matter of time.

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