This is a topic that's been written about a trillion times. It's a dime-a-dozen topic at this point. Why write about it? In a staff meeting yesterday, I was going over the new Facebook Home features with the rest of our team here at DeMoss. While we were going over some of the features and functionality, we got into a good discussion about how this could affect Facebook's advertising model and the future of the platform. @allyedge asked a question that I hadn't thought about before: did I ever see Facebook taking a turn for the worse the same way that MySpace did?
Facebook is not MySpace
While sites like MySpace and Friendster paved the way and created a market for a company like Facebook to exist, Facebook is not MySpace. From looking at all successful emerging platforms, it's easy to recognize two common denominators between them all.
A good user experience (quality design, functionality and everything in between) and quality content.
UX and Design
This is what separated Facebook from the pack early on. Despite your opinion of the platform now, Facebook's design is what drew people away from MySpace. Facebook had a very simple, non-cluttered design. There were no animated GIFs in the background, no unsolicited loud music jumping off the screen at me nor any sparkly backgrounds giving me a headache. Every profile was a uniformed blue and white, giving me the bare "essential" information that I wanted to know about my friends.
For a while, design on Facebook appeared to take a backseat. Google+ made a serious threat (I'm still a believer in it BTW) because of its beautiful design. However, Facebook is still making changes, especially to the much anticipated newsfeed, that make it more attractive...and oddly more resembling Google+. Their mobile apps have improved a lot in the last few months (had nowhere to go but up) and now with Facebook Home, their making their content the forefront of the Android user experience.
What Facebook Home brought to light, for me, was the importance of quality content. What about my friends that post crappy images or pixelated memes...do I really want that on my phone? The Verge wrapped that conundrum up nicely in this piece Facebook Home is beautiful but what if your friends aren't?
Can you force quality content?
Every social platform will have crap content. They typically don't require users to go through an editorial process. Very few pieces of social content are actually vetted through a 3rd party fewer still are reviewed by the content creator more than once. Unless a social network starts to pre-approve content, this will always be the case, for better or for worse.
Facebook's algorithm is the closest thing to content approval. Despite its obvious imperfections and frustrations for marketers, it was an attempt to filter down the most interesting content to keep the newsfeed looking clean. In addition to that, Facebook forces marketers to play by their rules. They arent' the most consistent police but they won't let people do just anything on their site. I feel that it's an effort to do everything they can to keep their quality looking as good as an open platform possibly can.
Facebook's also noticing the trend in highly visual content. They bought Instagram after all. Tumblr was making noise to take over Facebook's marketshare in younger demographics. With the upcoming newsfeed revamp and Facebook Home's key feature, they're making strides to align their platform with the type of content people want to consume: visuals. Facebook isn't necessarily changing what people can post but is tailoring the type of content they prefer to be more visible (visuals are bigger). Between an emphasis on visuals and updates to their algorithm, Facebook is doing a decent job adapting and staying relevant, despite how many people they anger along the way.
Think about channel purpose
Do I spend as much time on Facebook as I used to? No. Will I get rid of it? Not any time soon. Facebook has critical mass to its advantage. A millenial having a Facebook account is almost like having an ID card to some degree. It's the one spot where people can update all their friends at once with somewhat public information. Facebook's where I've learned about old friends getting married, having babies or even passing away.
All the other social platforms out there - for me - have a different purpose. I don't use Twitter for the same reasons I use Facebook. I use Pinterest for idea gathering and Tumblr for inspirational or humorous "content snacks." Facebook still remains the key way I keep up with family and friends and probably will stay that way for a long time. Sure, it may eventually fall (all things do end) but I don't see Facebook disappearing into oblivion any time very soon.
So what do you think? Will Facebook go the way of MySpace? Or is it around for the foreseeable long haul?