Evolve or die. There is no doubt about the fact that even Facebook is subject to this rule. The launch of the social network in 2004 has disrupted the way brands communicate with their public, reshaping online interaction, that was previously limited to websites. The use of Facebook by the public has evolved in such a way that company pages are often also used by clients as customer care platforms. The social network giant has increased its presence all around the world but, as much as it acted as an agent of disruption when it was initially launched, it is now suffering due to the arrival of new digital players on the scene. I am referring to the so-called “ephemeral social platforms”, those social networks and media that allow users to publish their messages and photos for a short time span. Periscope and Snap Chat are among the most successful ones of this new wave, with the latter being responsible for moving a growing number of teenagers away from Facebook. It is clear that Zuckerberg’s giant must evolve or die. But in which direction is Facebook heading? The recent changes to its algorithm, which now favour companies sharing non-commercial articles and photos, coupled with the fact that Facebook has recently signed an agreement with the major news networks to serve their articles directly on its wall, are indicative of an ongoing transformation.
This is how we see Facebook evolving in the near future:
Holistic portal: according to a study carried out by Tecmark in 2014 on 2,000 UK smartphone users, the average person reaches for his or her phone within 15 minutes of waking up each morning, to check out personal emails, Facebook, weather forecasts and read the news. If smartphone users cannot stay away from their mobile devices, why not turn Facebook into the very first website visited every day, by reshaping it into a holistic portal and (almost) the only information source one requires?
Enhanced personalization: why not give users the possibility to customize the layout of their walls by allowing them to see only updates from specific sources? This is already happening in part with the possibility of muting posts from companies spamming commercial messages. I envisage that personalization will be the next big step for Facebook.
Facebook generation retention: teenagers are leaving Facebook but the early adopters, those who have been with it since its inception, are still using it. However those who signed up to the service in 2004 have grown older, their life and interests have changed and Facebook must change with them, hence the need to understand the needs of an older audience which is starting to find MEMEs and online games meaningless.
Whatever the direction Facebook is heading towards, there is no doubt that the giant has to evolve in order to not turn into a dinosaur and be wiped out by the meteorite of new competitors entering the market.