Where did it all go wrong for Facebook?

Feb 26, 2019

Where did it all go wrong for Facebook?

Oh, Facebook! …Where, oh where, do we begin?

It’s one of those companies that’s become so much a part of our everyday lives that we can’t help but feel moved by it. Every single news story that we read about provokes some kind of strong emotion.

It all feels so personal, doesn’t it? It’s not like reading about Microsoft.

With Facebook, it’s all so affecting, mainly because most of us have our private lives saved on there. We entrust Zuckerburg and his team with our most precious memories. It’s like a diary, a holiday journal and a family photograph album all rolled into one. And it spans years of our lives!

Undoubtedly, Facebook is both a cultural and technological giant. The question is: how much longer will it actually be with us?There are some out there who genuinely believe that Facebook is on its last legs; but can this really be true?

How many scandals can one company survive? How much controversy can one brand take? How many storms can one man weather before he buckles under the pressure? And, perhaps most important of all, how long can we go on trusting this man with our data?

In this blog, we take an intelligent look at Facebook. We look at the company from the perspective of an everyday user and from the digital marketing point of view. We need to cut through all the media hype and get a clear idea about the future of Facebook.

The Rise of Facebook

Facebook thumbs represnting the likes feature

Today, Facebook is generally recognised as one of the Big Four tech companies. It sits alongside Google, Amazon and Apple as a household brand and although “to Facebook” hasn’t become a verb like googling something, it is nonetheless extremely well established in our culture.

Before Facebook become a global player though, it was a just a quaint student project in an American college. Back in the early noughties, when the internet was still young and before smartphones had been dreamt up, Mark Zuckerburg, (with Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes) came up with a website that was really a kind of tool to facilitate Harvard gossip.

As the concept proved popular, it was extended to other top level universities. The first additional colleges to benefit were Yale, Stanford and Columbia. The technology was then adapted to include the rest of the Ivy League colleges, thus forming a kind of high tech gossip website for America’s developing intellectual elite. In time it also crossed the Atlantic to Oxford and Cambridge.

From these somewhat elitist beginnings, international success eventually led to a much more democratic approach. Soon, anyone could enjoy the benefits of sharing photos, writing wall-posts and organising events and by 2010 the company had 500 million users. As Facebook continued to grow, however, so did its responsibilities and its problems…

Facebook Scandals

The darker side of the Facebook company

The difficulty with playing a large part in the everyday life of a community is that you become a target. However good the intentions of a successful company are, it will inevitably come up against those less honourable members of society who find ways to exploit it.

A straight-forward social tool such as Facebook soon develops the potential for all sorts of ill-use. Unfortunately, if those in control do not adequately police their service, it is they who are blamed by the media and the public for the issues that subsequently arise. In other words, Zuckerburg gets blamed because the bad guys take advantage of Facebook.

This isn’t to say that Facebook is itself perfect. Indeed, many of the company’s problems have been internal. However, there’s a definite tendency in the media and the public to assign blame and that’s something we should try and keep in mind here.

Without getting lost in the complete catalogue of problems that Facebook has had to deal with since its humble beginnings, recent disgraces include the Cambridge Analytica scandal — the research group that collected user data using Facebook and was linked to President Trump’s campaign during 2016.

Then there’s Mark Zuckerburg’s very public appearance before Congress. Not long before that, there was the concern over Facebook being used to spread Russian propaganda. And who could forget the furore over Facebook’s connection with fake news? Oh, and then there were the disturbing revelations that Facebook kept videos in its archive that had been deleted by users.

All of which leads us to wonder….

Has Facebook had its day?

Facebook is constantly showing signs of entering a downward spiral

When scandal after scandal just keeps on piling up, it really doesn’t look too good for a company. Apart from the issue of seriously bad press, however, there are some more technical issues to consider with Facebook as well.

The design is now looking outdated. That goes for the style of the interface and the package as a whole—think of its features and then think of other apps currently in vogue. Instagram and WhatsApp seem to have taken the lead here. WhatsApp messaging has far more appeal than writing a wall-post and makes private messaging and group communication really simple. Meanwhile, Instagram is the site for photo sharing and the platform for social media stars and influencers.

Against that though, there is the new grid model Facebook design being rolled out. There’s also the 3D image project that uses two photos combined to create 3D type images. Also, we should remember that Facebook the company actually owns both Instagram and WhatsApp. We should also remember how effective advertising is on Facebook. It might well be this that safeguards its future….

Facebook's future

What will we Facebook do to recover?

The great strength of Facebook advertising is how targeted it can be, particularly with pay per click advertising. Looking to the future though, will this outweigh the trust issues that so many users now have?

The well-known expression has it that “trust is hard to earn but easy to lose”. Facebook started off so well, back when it was a simple website concept for connecting people. However, as the internet developed and more and more personal data went online, protecting it became crucial. Being spied on, being used… these are not comfortable thoughts.

An additional problem that a high-tech company such as Facebook has is that the majority of users don’t really know how the technology involved works. You can’t visualise it like gold bars in a bank vault. Microchips, satellites, code… the whole thing is just hard to grasp, which makes it even more open to misunderstanding and fear. The whole thing is shrouded in mystery, even when it’s endeavouring to be at its most open.

Having said this, the company as a whole is looking very secure; users don’t tend to connect WhatsApp and Instagram with Facebook emotionally, in spite of knowing, intellectually, that they are connected. This means that the lack of trust is not transferred. The Facebook app itself is another matter, but the likelihood is that it is going to survive for some years yet. And certainly, for digital marketing purposes, it remains an excellent way of reaching people and transmitting your message.

Get in touch with us here at Creative Marketing Services for expert marketing solutions for 2019. You can call us on 0113 287 7973. And don’t forget to bookmark this blog for our regular digital marketing insights.