“Facebook has failed!” screamed the media, as Facebook’s stock price continued to tumble off its IPO price. Indeed, the headlines have been bleak. But Facebook is a microcosm of a macro phenomenon afflicting all of social media.
Facebook, the once great social network, is in danger from itself, and the promises either it made, or expectations heaped upon it by its users. It can either move on and evolve into something greater than itself, or suffer the fate of other great Internet companies before it, (GeoCities, Yahoo!, Netscape, MySpace … the list goes on and on), possibly dragging the rest of the social media industry down with it.
And while I could chalk up the recent history of the Internet’s failed companies as a source of endless cautionary tales, two particularly valuable and relevant examples come to mind: Aol and Yahoo!
Both were pioneers and innovators in their time and both are examples of what not to do when it comes to running an Internet business. What they lacked is the ability to move beyond the business model that made them great, and evolve into one that provided sustained growth and success.
Facebook finds itself in a similarly troubling situation — it must evolve or die.
Similar to Aol and Yahoo!, Facebook fans find it indispensable, or, at the very least, interwoven into their daily lives. The trick will be to not only enhance that feeling and its associated behaviors with users, but extend it into new areas, or drastically improve the experience of features and areas that its users find appealing. This requires making the features that its millions of users rely on even more indispensable, and dare I say, innovate exactly how people use Facebook or other social media.
All of which begs the question: What is that one thing so closely related to our friends, word of mouth, communication, commerce and fun conversation that can bring us to the steady, social second wind that the social media industry needs?
This issue, and much more, will be examined during a Sept. 28 panel, titled, “What the ‘Social Media Hype Cycle’ Means for Brands” at Social Media Week in Chicago. Details and registration info can be found here.
Michael Velasco is managing director, digital, at MediaWhiz’s sister agency, Ryan Partnership.