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Why parents, photos and private messaging are the future for Facebook

Ten years ago had you heard of Facebook? Probably not - unless you were a Harvard student - and even then, you probably wouldn’t have been much of a fan.

So in ten years’ time will Facebook be the queen of the web (as it arguably is today)? Or will it be the laughable online equivalent of an old shell suit we thought was cool at the time, but now realise was an error of epic proportions (don’t pretend you didn’t have one)?

Facebook’s key premise is simple: personalised content hubs for the showing off generation.

Its problem: the showing off generation grew up, got married, had kids and then stuck a load of photos on Facebook.


Ergo, their parents joined to see the content. On the surface this was good news for Facebook, it got a ton of new users and had a great PR story. However, now EVERYONE’S on Facebook, it’s stopped being quite so cool. People can’t behave in the way they WANT to on Facebook because the wrong people might see it, case in point:

Photos and Private Messaging

As a result, Facebook has now seen a mass exodus of younger audiences to channels that afford them much more flexibility of content distribution. For example:

WhatsApp – private, selective conversations, free image and video sharing

- So Facebook bought it

SnapChat – can be private or broadcasted, free image and video sharing but the illusion of secrecy (the promise that the communication will not be recorded) is alluring

- So Facebook tried to buy it

Instagram – it’s impossible to take a bad photo now. Even if you wake up with hair like Ken Dodd you can still make a decent job of your photos on Instagram. It’s style and aspiration personified…and people love it

- So Facebook bought it

Twitter – let’s be honest, celebs are on here. This is where news breaks, and dies, quickly. Its allure is in its instant and open communication

- So Facebook supported it

I could ramble on about Google+ (don’t get me started) and YouTube, but my point is simple. Facebook understands what people want and how people’s behaviour has changed. So it’s adapted itself to reflect these two things:

Photos: We’re an instant gratification society. I bet when you saw this blog your default reaction was to scan for images or a summary of information. We want quick information, that we like, to come to us – that’s why photos work.

The Anchor: We all have a favoured app on our phones. Typically this is your anchor app, you’ll go to it first, check it most regularly and respond to push notifications faster. This app is winning the battle for your attention. Typically we’re seeing private messaging functions (like WhatsApp) become the favoured app, because it allows free data sharing with selected groups.

Ultimately, the point is that Facebook is adapting itself to meet the changing needs of consumers by acquiring successful innovations. The question is, how will it monetise these initiatives and will it successfully bring them all together under one ‘roof’?

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