I think Facebook will be a very different user experience shortly. Two possibilities.
1. Facebook can continue down the current business model in which case, they do not have a bright future. Many people are now sick and tired of the Facebook business model. To be clear, they are selling my personal info, using my image, and intruding on my group discussions with advertisements in a truly obnoxious way. Right now, I have no other great social media choices so I can just opt out from participating or grit my teeth and put up with it. But every day, FB seems to be even more heavy handed in their intrusions.
2. Facebook can back-off their obnoxious intrusive behavior and launch another business model. In this case, they have a bright future. There are many choices:
- Archivist - If I could put all my pictures up on Facebook but not necessarily share them. And retrieve or print them or use them at will, I'd be willing to pay a reasonable fee. Right now, I pay Google probably about $50 a year to archive all my emails, I'd probably do the same for FB. There's a lot of money in that. Why don't they do it?
- Search Engine - They have their little like and share buttons on almost every page on the web. They know a lot about traffic. Why not launch a true search engine, separate from the social media, which finds search results on some novel algorithms based on their unique understanding of the web and people's behavior and preferences. They could then get into the gravy train of putting ads right where people want them (when they are searching) and NOT right where we don't want them, in the middle of social interactions.
- Private Forums - I run a reasonably sized company (50 some odd people on the payroll...well, they're not all so odd...although on average, since there are some really odd ones, I think the odd term works). We have some Facebook groups that have 20K and 30K likes but we don't really like using them for discussions with our members because, just as we are helping them understand how to use our "math homeschool program" (for intance), Facebook puts right in the middle of the discussion, advertisements for four competitors who have bought the right to put up ads against those terms. It's confusing as hell to our users who sometimes think that we are suggesting that they try those products. It's infuriating to us. And it redoubles our commitment to get people off of Facebook for discussions and back into our private forums in which we control the environment and make our share of the profits off of any ads. Why can't FB offer a private label or section of FB so we can have discussions there which are NOT opportunities for competitors to intrude?.
I'm hoping that Facebook is just doing number 1 (obnoxious advertising and privacy violations) for an interim period to make some cash until plan 2 rolls out. If not, I hope they become the next MySpace or Friendster and that they get replaced by some people with better judgement.
BTW, this is my second time offering free business advice to Facebook. I published advice for them back in 2009 but they didn't seem to listen. Silly people.
I would share this on Facebook, but then the SEO ads would start popping up on my timeline, and I just find that obnoxious. ;)
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