It’s just a matter of time before Facebook’s honeymoon is over. Although, it seems that social network juggernaut is indestructible, I don’t think the fairytale will last for too much longer. Here is why I think they fail:
1. Too much clutter — what turned me on Facebook from the beginning was the simple, clean user interface which Myspace drastically lacked. This has all changed since mid 2007 when they launched the Facebook platform allowing 3rd party apps on the site. Great idea at the time, but now the site has become a cluster f**k of useless widgets that, for the most part, don’t provide much value and are quickly forgotten. This will come back to haunt them.
On the part of Facebook, I think this was a strategic mistake. Instead of throwing up all of these apps in a 3rd party free-for-all (there are currently 22,408 apps), they should have considered a more regulated, phased approach. For example, wait until the lifecycle of one app is coming to an end, before you introduce another one. This way users are not inundated with all the garbage and that squeaky clean UI can be maintained.
Moreover, I can see things only getting worse as the need for advertising dollars prevail and Facebook slowly becomes a virtual billboard with more ads — this why most people (like myself) jumped the MySpace ship.
2. The ‘cool’ factor is long gone — when your uncle has a profile and is facebooking, you know the cool kids are not going to stay for long. This is a natural occurrence and we’ve seen it many times. Case in point = friendster. Friendster started off as social network for a lot people in the ‘in’ crowd and soon became overcrowded by the mainstream masses. When this happened the cool kids left the party and the rest soon followed. This is how fads are started, and this is how they die. Cool kids find something that quickly becomes popular, the masses follow, the cool kids leave, the masses follow.
3. Too many social networks, not enough time — more and more niche social networks are popping up and users will eventually spend more time on sites that focus more directly around their interests than large, general social networks. I think the MySpaces and Facebooks serve as great learning tools for the masses to understand how to use social networks. But eventually FB and MS will lose their appeal and only serve as gateways letting users find niche social networks that are more in line with their specific interests with more meaningful interactions (and they won’t have to get poked or bitten by a vampire).
There is a slew of other reasons that also indicate that Facebook could be toast soon. $15 Billion, ha… I wouldn’t hold my breath.
[UPDATE] New post 30 months later…