In the past few weeks as news and media organizations have raised a clamor over Facebook’s coming IPO I have seen several variations of this article. All of them with a lovely gloom and doom tone for Facebook. Many of them through implication also spell gloom and doom for social media in general.
I have a problem with this. First of all, even if Facebook were to decline (and someday it likely will), the trend will be for something more useful to replace it (remember when Facebook obliterated MySpace?). A Facebook demise does not spell the end for social networks. In fact, social media is increasingly becoming more relevant in how we carry out business (You can read all about that here or watch this for a nice summary).
These articles sounding the end of Facebook all seem to rely on two pieces of information. First, a large company is pulling paid advertisements from the site. Second, a study shows that a large number of users distrust Facebook and social sites.
In response to the fear of companies pulling paid advertising, I would say that is to the consumers benefit (though Facebook misses out on some money). This shows me that companies are learning the value of interaction and engagement as opposed blasting ads at people (Adblock anyone?). The challenge this brings to platforms like Facebook is to either survive on less revenue from advertising or innovate a new business model.
Regarding the distrust of users, it would appear to me, that this isn’t stopping people from using the site. At least not in droves. While many, including myself have privacy concerns, they still continue to use social media. In fact, users increased concerns with privacy raises my hopes for privacy improvements by social sites, as well as more educated and aware users. Increases in the kind of people who don’t post every personal detail of their own and their children’s lives- but that is a post for another time.
All of this being said, it is clear that many people still don’t understand the lasting implications of social media. In reality this is not a fad as a recent study showed many people think, but the latest innovation in communication. Over the past decade, as the web has matured and become accessible to an incredibly large segment of the global population, as technology has allowed for mobile internet use, social media has risen to become one of the many great communication tools to harness all of this innovation.
What do you think? Is social media the communication tool of the future? Or will it quickly succumb to something even more innovative and advanced? Or do you stand with those who view this all as a fad? Those who see me typing my future diatribes from a typewriter and faxing them in to a newspaper to be printed as an Op-Ed piece, which I will then clip from the paper so I can show it to all of my friends and relatives before I snail mail it to Grandma (via a financially successful USPS of course).