Over the past five years, Facebook (FB) has maneuvered its way into just about everyone’s lives. It’s rare for someone not to have a Facebook account these days.
What started as a college-student-only website has evolved into a massive dumping ground for the world to vent its opinions and share anything and everything.
In fact, Facebook has a total of 1.35 billion global users.
Naturally, as Facebook’s fan base has expanded, its features have, too. When Mark Zuckerberg first launched the site, users mostly just stuck to text and status updates.
Fast forward to today, though, and America is obsessed with narcissistic “selfies.” So unless you’re among the rare few who aren’t on Facebook, you’re probably familiar with the incessant picture collages streaming on your News Feed.
But despite this, Facebook has a popularity problem.
Heck, even the president thinks Facebook isn’t cool anymore…
Say “Cheese” for the Camera Your Followers
Quoted in The Atlantic, President Obama said Facebook was no longer the “it” social media site: “It seems like 18 to 34 year olds don’t use Facebook anymore.”
You see, with pictures being all the rage in a self-absorbed, check-in-by-the-minute culture, it may appear that Facebook is top of the social media pile.
Not so. The picture obsession trend has outgrown the platform.
Apparently, teenagers are more drawn to Instagram – the newer, more hip kid. Facebook is old news.
According to a Piper Jaffray survey, teenage usage on Instagram jumped from 69% to 76%, while Facebook actually dropped – going from 72% to 45%.
Now, keep in mind, this is for the period between August 25 and September 30 this year – but that’s right around the time the new school year started.
You think Zuckerberg and Facebook care too much?
Facebook’s Cooler Cousin
Zuckerberg is on record saying that Facebook was never intended to be “cool.”
And even if teeny-boppers no longer see Facebook as the hot jock in the hallway, and are flowing to Instagram instead, it doesn’t matter much. Facebook was smart enough to double-down and snag Instagram for $1 billion, so these folks are simply switching to another Facebook outlet.
This means Facebook is still winning in the end. In fact, it’s already begun to monetize the mobile photo-sharing service. It won’t happen immediately, though, with Zuckerberg saying, “Instagram is a few years from being an important business for us.”
But as you can see, when you own both options, it’s pretty hard to lose. Regardless of who’s best, it’s all still going in the same piggy bank.
It’s working, too, with Facebook shares up 36% year-to-date.
With numbers like that, Facebook must be doing something right.
It is. And it continues to add even more services…
A Power Play App
In a world where much technology is consolidating and becoming more streamlined, Facebook recently added a controversial new Messenger app for mobile users. Separate from the main Facebook app, it forces users to download the app to receive and send private Facebook messages.
Keep in mind that this new app is in addition to the WhatsApp messaging service, which Facebook paid an outrageous $19 billion for earlier this year.
Zuckerberg claims that 10 billion messages are sent per day on Facebook, so extra outlets and options are necessary. And Messenger is supposed to simplify the process for avid messengers.
Maybe. But don’t be fooled. This is simply another way for Facebook to create a social media monopoly… getting as many people using its various mediums as possible.
Another case in point: Facebook just announced that it plans to invade the workplace, with its Facebook at Work offering…
Zuckerberg Wants You Facebooking at Work
This new website will look much like the current Facebook site – with groups, chat, and newsfeeds. But the key difference is that users will be able to keep their personal posts separate from office-related business.
But will this new addition catch on? We’re skeptical.
Employers already have an issue with employees wasting precious company time scrolling through their Facebook pages. Many employers even block the site entirely.
And even if it does gain traction, it’s highly unlikely that workers won’t be tempted to bounce between their “professional” Facebook profile and their personal one.
So while it’s debatable whether Facebook at Work will be a great success, the company’s overall goal here seems obvious: social media domination. To get as many people using its services as it can – and consequently, as many eyes in front of its advertising as possible.
The concern here is twofold: In its quest for such domination, will Facebook’s rapid expansion mean it risks reaching social media saturation among consumers? And is the company spreading itself too thin, sacrificing quality for quantity? Time will tell.
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