(Unless They Change One Very Large Thing)
As a millennial, I’ve already been privileged to a few hard lessons in business. One of the most prominent probably arose from witnessing the major automotive companies file for government bailouts in my early twenties. Who would have thought GM would need to shed half of their brands and seek government money to continue to exist? Another that comes to mind is watching the big box stores and department stores close their doors gradually in the past 10 years. Who could’ve pictured a world without Toys R Us?
As we are in an emerging tech world, the social media platform seems like a staple to society. People open their phones over 150 times a day on average, and 50 of those times, they open Facebook. It serves as a connector, an informer, and a place for people to document and/or advertise their lives. Facebook is everywhere. So why am I predicting it’s going to implode? Well, I am not. The Facebook leadership team will not let that happen. But they will have to change one problem with the “too large to fail” corporation that started in a college dorm room.
No, I don’t think this is tied to the common threats you already know about. Buying third party data is yesterday’s news, and everyone is doing it whether FB stays on that wagon or not. Advertising pays for the world, and it fuels economic growth and stability, so I’m not going to rant about their increasingly large ad platform. We are talking about a fundamental shift in the scope of Facebook’s role in our lives.
“What do you mean? Facebook isn’t going to fail.”
There’s one thing that the other monster tech companies: Apple, Google, Amazon, etc, are doing that Facebook is not. They are integrating their tech into the world, in an outward flow of innovation and life improvement. Assistants are in our offices and homes. We’re using their programs to run our offices. They are now our payment methods, our phones’ manufacturers, and even our books. Buttons allow us to shop from our pantries. As time moves on, tech surrounds us and makes our lives easier, integrating with us into our world.
Facebook has the opposite flow of their technology and user interaction. Facebook pulls us away from the world. To interact, we must take time ignoring the world while we replicate it, decipher it, or portray it, into a software for others to also ignore their surroundings to do the same. There are limited integration points in which you can live or participate in life while also participating in Facebook. This is an inward flow of innovation.
As other companies spend more time integrating with our lives, it becomes redundant to continue the process of doubling our efforts to portray these lives on FB. In the future, if we are seamlessly connected to our technologies, there will be no need for this service on the magnitude that Facebook is utilized right now.
So, what should Facebook do to get ahead of this? (HINT: Enter Machine Learning) Give me your ideas in the comments below. They’ve already started by adding recommendations as a major part of their user experience. Now, people are using FB to add to their daily lives in the real world (not the other way around). Let’s hope this is a sign they are here to stay. If Facebook intends to remain relevant over the next decade, I believe there’s still time for them to do so. However, they will have to stop aiming to replace our world and start aiming to enhance it. This would be a fundamental change in the mission for a social platform, but they have the data and the technology to truly make our world more connected. Let’s hope they do!