Is Facebook undergoing the beginning of its decline?
We must observe what kids and teenagers are doing today. Our childhood’s challenge was the bicycle, theirs the mobile phone, but the platforms they use and with which they feel most familiar are mainly Instagram, YouTube, and WhatsApp and on the contrary, they do not have Facebook, and those who have it practically do not use it. This could be an indicator of where we are going, and we should analyse it especially if we have a business and promote it through social networks.
When someone has a physical store -or an online business- where products or services are sold, it is very common to promote them through the social network, which is completely logical because people are there and we must get visibility so that they see them, but there is a huge tendency to focus all the campaigns on Facebook and it could be a mistake to promote our business only on this platform. It is clear that many other market factors are involved (for example, age, gender, the localisation of the business…) and of course, it is true that Facebook is still a monster that reaches millions of people. However, it is sensible to diversify promotion when creating awareness or launching campaigns through the internet. The scope of any publication on Facebook is much smaller than that of a publication on Instagram or YouTube, as long as we talk about the same conditions, such as the same number of followers on each platform. If we have a business, we should not focus all our efforts only on a social network like Facebook, but open an Instagram account and a Youtube channel as well.
Facebook is not going through its best moment (Facebook the platform, because as a business it has a brutal success, and Instagram and WhatsApp are growing). There are already countries where advertising is reaching users through WhatsApp. It may be that, at some point, Facebook’s growth slows down but it is still impressive even if there are other trends among young people and many of them do not feel comfortable using Facebook.
We cannot forget that Facebook has more than 2,100 million active users, a huge figure. Therefore, if we launch an advertising campaign on Facebook it will provide us with awareness, visibility, and it will report sales, but it is equally true that the algorithms of Instagram and YouTube allow us to reach a competitive number of people without promoting posts on Facebook.
Why do not young people feel so identified with Facebook? First, Facebook has recently been involved in several scandals about data protection (Cambridge Analytica data scandal); then, the Russian agents who are said to have influenced the presidential elections with false news, Zuckerberg giving news of explanations in Congress… Therefore it seems that Facebook is not the perfect place to read truthful news, share information or share your personal data. Facebook is still a site to share images but above all to share texts, opinions, and written material. However, young people today do not want to read, but they just want to see. Why has the ready-made food triumphed so much over the past 15 years? Young people do not want to waste their time cooking, they want everything done. Instagram and YouTube are like ready-made food, it’s very simple, they do not have to think, they lie on the sofa and they see pictures and videos, without having to swallow text and the same images as always, because according to the algorithms of Facebook, if you have 300 friends, you will always see the same images of certain people within your group of friends. Facebook, therefore, is causing insecurity and favouring a transition of young people towards platforms in which the content is extremely visual or where they can kill time without having to think too much.
Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp
Facebook has everything under control. Let’s not forget that it owns Instagram and Whatsapp. The evolution of Facebook is very promising and has concentrated so many people that it is difficult to disappear. Facebook platform is a mass media of massive reach such as TV, radio, written press, and it is also such an interactive medium that makes people stay connected almost permanently to the network. It is possible that only a financial catastrophe, a stock market crash, could cause the network to disappear and still the US government would rescue it since it contains so much information from people in the world that is in nobody’s interest that it disappears.
Where is Facebook going?
It will continue to experiment with new functionalities that give the user interactive value. The great success of Facebook has been and will continue to be the powerful interaction it generates among people, getting them to be constantly connecting and reconnecting, producing an addiction to visiting the network continuously over time and spending more and more time inside it, always giving value to the audience.
Facebook buys everything that could mean a risk or an opportunity
The purchasing power of Facebook is very high and over time it will be buying the applications and digital platforms that it needs to continue with its kingdom, as it has happened when buying WhatsApp and Instagram, two of the most powerful digital interaction platforms available at the moment. Facebook has tried to buy Snapchat but it has not fallen into its net YET.
Facebook will be the leader in digital advertising
Today, Google is the leader in digital advertising but Facebook is equivalent to one-third of Google’s income. Possibly, Facebook could surpass it in five years when integrating platforms of high interaction and high density of users, with the creation of a search engine within its functionalities.
After the text and images, the greatest content will be the video and in 10 years, we will see communication models related to virtual reality.
Facebook has shown titanic efforts to promote its video platform since 2013 and dethrone the current king, YouTube. Its efforts seem to have paid off and today the social network boasts more than four billion reproductions daily. In addition, It recently began a program, currently limited, with a small number of users that will allow content producers to profit from the content of views they achieve if they previously run ads, something similar to YouTube, but many YouTubers complained that their Videos hosted on the YouTube platform are hacked and uploaded on Facebook by other people. Facebook tried to calm the waters by announcing the implementation of a program that identifies the videos that have been pirated to prevent their publication; that is to say, it will implement a copyright policy as YouTube does to avoid infringements on copyrighted content.
Virtual Reality could be the next big change for Facebook
The social network already took a big step forward with the acquisition of Oculus VR in 2014. Oculus VR is a company that develops virtual reality technology. Its first product, still in development, is the Oculus Rift, a head-mounted display, which allows an immersive experience in virtual reality.
Facebook considers that there are a couple of important trends in human communication that it hopes to improve. Virtual reality is an evolutionary step in communication methods. We used to simply share the text and now we mainly publish pictures. The video in the future will be even more important than pictures. After that, immersive experiences like virtual reality will become the norm and later we will have the power to share our complete sensory experience with people whenever we want.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, in the future technology will become so advanced that people will be able to send thoughts to their friends via telepathy. Facebook users may one day be able to send messages and posts telepathically. He stated that the latest communication technology would allow people to send thoughts to each other. Is it possible that one day we will be able to send rich and complete thoughts using technology directly? You will be able to think something and your friends will immediately experience that thought if you desire it. This would be the latest communication technology.
It will become a multi-service platform and a kind of browser
A large part of Internet users access the Internet specifically to enter social networks and mainly Facebook. This network will evolve in such a way that it will keep the users as much as possible within its platform so that you do not have to leave; there they will have e-commerce search engines, access to other sites, television, movies, telephony, but always within Facebook.
One of the largest stores in the world
Given the number of people connected today, Facebook is clear about what steps to take. Not only to have digital advertising but to become a monster of e-commerce. Imagine having in your hands more than 1,000 million users, knowing their habits and preferences; without leaving Facebook they can buy what they want literally.
A financial business
With the large database that it currently has, there is no doubt that a great business opportunity is the creation of simple tools to generate financial transactions between users, which will facilitate payments between people and even companies. This functionality will be launched shortly in the US.
Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence research
It seems that artificial intelligence is also a goal for Facebook.
The AI is one of the fundamental pillars within the company’s laboratory of ideas (The IA Lab, Menlo Park, New York) and who better than Facebook to analyse social relations and interaction controlling how they communicate more than one billion users.
Facebook has started to work in artificial intelligence research. The goal is to make it easier for social network users to communicate and navigate between texts, pictures and videos.
A team settled down in Paris, will work on long-term research projects in image recognition, natural language processing and speech recognition, as well as exploring the physical infrastructure and logic necessary to run AI systems.
One of the areas of work is human interaction and artificial intelligence concerning how Facebook tries to understand the meaning of things that people share to generate a useful, automatic and contextualized source of information. Most AI research focuses on understanding the meaning of what people share. For example, if you upload a picture with a friend then Facebook must make sure that the friend sees it; if you write a post about politics Facebook must understand it so that it can contextualise and show you content about politics. The goal of Facebook is to build AI systems that are better than humans in our main senses: vision, hearing, etc.
Biotechnology, ageing, and aerospace research
Facebook, like the technology giant Google, will invest in other areas as Google investigates with the CALICO Institute to combat ageing, leading to its first result: allowing the human being to live an average of 200 years.
Concurrently, Facebook plans to enter the field of aerospace exploration and hence who knows what Facebook can become. If Google does it right, maybe we can see it in 200 years.