Facebook : They will never forget you ’til somebody new comes along

They will never forget you ’til somebody new comes along – Eagles from the New kid in Town

I am writing this post at the time when Egypt is undergoing a Facebook Revolution, a movement of hundreds of thousands of protesters who have come together after using social media like Twitter, Blogs and Facebook for organize and demand of a regime change in their country. Needless to stay, at this point, Internet is under a clampdown to stop the freedom of expression!

This post is not about the revolution, it is an insight into this Juggernaut of Facebook, a country with over 500 million users. It one of the stickiest websites on the internet, the centerpiece of an Oscar nominated film and probably one of your favorite websites.

Facebook is not the first social network, neither it will be the last, but it has been the most impact-full. It took over from the erstwhile leader MySpace  in 2009 and has exceeded all estimates of its impact. Millions of users share vital information about their preferences on their profile pages, which further helps facebook categorize and provide extremely well segmented advertising opportunities to businesses. Its better than Google, because while google earns its dough by targeted advertisements based on search criteria, Facebook moves ahead by stitching user profiles and their own personal network in the process.

Looking back, there was a time when ICQ was the killer chat program, and Yahoo! was the killer email website. The internet evolved, most of these internet applications committed a few mistakes which coupled with better/newer services brought on the table to give users an opportunity to move.

Orkut might have been trolled by Orkutiyas looking for a hookup and had its own share of donut server errors, MySpace became a playground of over customization of profiles and a haven of pedophiles. At the same time facebook innovated with its interface, and applications like FarmVille. This was their window of opportunity, and the irony of most collaborative internet services is the same as their well publicized strength…they are social.

Users stick to a social network/tool only till the people who matter the most to them are active on the same network. The exodus begins the moment when the important people in your network start moving to a different website(these maybe just 10 out of your 400 friends!). So what would make the users move to a different website from Facebook?Well, I don’t know…and I wish I knew that(would have loved to invent it). But I do know are the threats/risks which Facebook faces today, which could accelerate the exodus whenever it happens:

  • Privacy concerns – A normal user may still not be conscious of the risks which they are exposed to because of Facebook’s questionable privacy policy. However, user awareness on this issue could just turn the tide against Facebook!
  • Rogue apps – Email spammers killed off good web mail services with weak spam filters. Similarly, rogue and unregulated apps on facebook are taking away the sheen of safety and utility of the network. As more and more such unregulated applications continue to flood our walls by posting our first facebook messages or profile views, it poses a bigger challenge to ensure that the user experience is not ruined.

Am not a doomsayer, but every product or service has a life-cycle specially when it is not a need but a want. The only way to beat this curve is by staying ahead of it.


4 thoughts on “Facebook : They will never forget you ’til somebody new comes along

  1. The thing with Facebook is that although it has been in the Venn diagram mapping of all the apps that have replaced a market leader, in that case Orkut?, it’s success has been unprecedented.
    How many apps had a movie based on them?

    Privacy concerns and Rogue apps have always been a concern in anything that takes up my data.
    Methinks, if they start hitting FB’s ;eadership in the market, FB would realign their strategy.

    Nice writeup mate!

    1. True…we must remember FB is purely about user experience. The moment this starts taking a real hit, it would be a real concern.
      For now FB has been equally aggressive in launching newer features and tweaks to the network, which is a good sign.

  2. Very well written post. I especially second the logic in the fact that the moving of “key” networkers is the reason for people to shift. I was, like all Indian college goers, hooked on to Orkut for the first few years: but when I broadened my base and my US colleagues were all on FB, I had to make the move. I found it was too onerous and cumbersome to maintain 2 social networking sites, since I simply did not have the time! So, I took to FB and forced my key friends in to that as well! 🙂

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