I try to check Facebook at least once a day, usually on my phone and usually just before heading to bed. I “like” a handful of things and call it a day.
I am on Google in some way, shape or form the entire day. GMail, Google search, Google Maps, Google Plus, Google Local Business, Google Reviews, Google Shopping and even answering questions in Google’s Webmaster Forum.
It got me thinking about how Facebook can possibly think it is possible to hold off Google+ as the default social platform in the coming years.
I’ll admit that I am not a power-user on either platform, which probably is like 99.9% of the users. So I decided to ask on each platform if people are active on the other platform. On Google+ I asked if people were using Facebook and on Facebook I asked if people were using Google+.
The answers were about what I expected, with many saying Facebook is where their friends and family are.
Why Are You on Facebook?
I am at a disadvantage in some ways. Because I’m an early adopter and need to check out new things to be any good at my day job, I see a cool stuff early and often grow weary of it just as it reaches its tipping point.
I still remember getting on Facebook when it opened up to people not in college, it was kind of cool. I realized after about a week that it didn’t have any appeal for me because I didn’t have any context for it, so I continued to spend most of my time on Twitter (after giving up on the far superior Plurk).
Facebook eventually became big enough that my mother-in-law joined. That was Facebook’s own tipping point. Facebook claimed 1.19 billion monthly active users as of September 30, 2013.
Personally I find most of the stuff shared on Facebook (that’s not related to real people like your kid or your BFF) mindless.
How many more cat memes do we need? How many more times are you going to puff out your chest and tell me your politician is flawless and their opponent is the second coming of Hitler? maybe I just need an inspirational quote over a beautiful sunset photo… ok, I’m better now.
Why Are You on Google+?
I joined Google+ as soon as I got an invite, because that’s what I do. I used it more like Twitter than Facebook, but not as often or as in depth. What I did notice is that the culture is completely different. The personal stuff seems to be dialed down, or maybe people are actually sharing thing to smaller circles so that we all don’t have to see their latest bout of poison ivy.
I like that I’m not constantly bombarded with ads for Viagra and sports cars because I’m in my 40’s… at least not yet. I also like that Google+ makes is so remarkably easy to share photos. Every photo I take on my phone gets uploaded to my Google+ account and lets me know when they are ready to be shared. I don’t have to manually upload anything.
I will also admit that having friends like Mark Traphagen, Jesse Wojdylo, Nikol Murphy and Martin Smith on there always engaging with me and sharing smart, provocative stuff helps too.
I have thought for most of 2013 that we are at “Peak Facebook”. I was lucky enough to have a chance to ask one of the world’s foremost Facebook expert his thoughts as well at the July Raleigh SEO Meetup. I asked Jim Tobin if he felt we were at Peak Facebook, he seemed to think that we were. Jim went on to say that what he hears most often is:
Facebook is less interesting to people than it was 6 months ago.
He also follows that up with the idea that Facebook’s real power comes from the utility of the platform itself, and having everyone on it. That seems to be the delicate threat that is holding people there, but there is nothing special about Facebook per se. All of its functionality is available many other places… and that fact has to be keeping the Facebook team chugging 5 hour energy drinks.
I can’t speak for the entire world, but I think that 2014 might be the flattest year Facebook has seen. I think it will still grow, but its glory days are in the rear-view mirror. I think Google+ will continue to grow through forced assimilation from the mothership in Mountain View. Michael Q. Todd just wrote a great article about why you will eventually be on Google+ even though you don’t think you will be.
With that said, you can still find me on Twitter… the platform of Champions!
Nikol Murphy says
I really wanted to Pin this.
Jim Tobin (@jtobin) says
Thanks for including me. Nice piece. I think 2014 will be the year when most users check Facebook less often. The newsfeed changes make it so you get no value from checking more often. That a potential nightmare for the company.
D Traver Adolphus (@proscriptus) says
All companies come and go, especially those that see almost uncontrolled growth. Friendster, myspace, classmates.com, all more or less dead. At one point Facebook too was a second-rate site, waiting in the wings.
A timely read since I just closed my Facebook account days ago. My own personal reasons boil down to a couple of main factors which you also touch upon.
1. On Facebook, the B.S. overpowers the benefit…took a step back and asked myself…what am I actually looking at? The answer (for me): a whole lot of B.S. with an occasional direct message or post that I am actually interested in, sporadically sprinkled.
2. The majority of ‘benefit’ I found was duplicated on other platforms. Why be redundant? My hesitation to dump Facebook was the feeling that I would be left out of the loop with my actual ‘friends and family’ but realized that for the most part I see the exact same posts elsewhere…Instagram…Twitter…etc. Once I realized this fact, the B.S. to benefit ratio really began to weigh undeniably heavy toward the ‘better strap on some boots…its gettiing thick in here’ side of things.
3. The majority of Facebook’s moves and adjustment to the platform, as a company, really seemed smarmy and self centered. Under the guise and probably true belief that they are providing ‘service’, everything they do seems to take away my power as a user. From edge rank to automatically showing ‘popular post’ as opposed to ‘most recent’ to automatically selecting me ‘available to chat’ when I know I never want to be available to chat. All this little B.S. adds up to a platform that constantly attempts to control…and as soon as I find all the right buttons to select to get my feed feeding me what I want…they change it and something else always comes into play that seems underhanded and designed to benefit Facebook and Facebook only. They stopped providing ‘for the people’ and started to ‘fend for themselves’ which I feel alienates and exploits there greatest asset, the masses they have accumulated.
From my perspective you are correct, Facebook has peaked, and I see a downward trend on the horizon.
I also wonder, again just from my own personal feelings, if the ‘honeymoon’ in general, for the ‘Social Media’ craze has peaked and while Facebook declines and turns on the masses…the masses, from now on, being wiser to the game of turning the spot to be into the spot to monetize, will begin to scrutinize newer platforms that arise and ask…what’s in it for me?…is it really worth precious time? Fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice…well…you get it…
Thanks for the post!
Mary Blanks says
I couldn’t agree with you more on all of those points. I was just trying to explain this to my IT geek / could-care-less-about-maketing husband the other night. As a marketer, I think it is incredibly important that we start talking to our social media clients about this now. I’m worried that so many are going to be behind the curve in the next 12-18 months as we see Facebook continue to tighten it’s reigns on what users see. I think this impact will be particularly felt by small businesses, many of whom are just beginning to embrace social media. Great, great, great post. Thanks for sharing.