Why There Will Never Be Another Facebook
Whenever you have a dominant player in the market, such as Facebook in social networking or Google in search engine marketing, every new start up or competitor gets the comparison. The world of social media loves to go looking for the next Facebook, and any start up which shows promise invariably gets branded with the label at some point.
But will there ever be another Facebook? I can think of a few reasons why there won’t:
We don’t need one, and we probably don’t want one.
For a company to come along, and displace well established players in any market, there needs to be a desire from customers to move away from what is currently in place. Whilst undoubtedly some users lose interest over time, most of my “friends” still use Facebook on a daily basis. Users want a means for connecting and communicating with people they know online and they have one. I don’t hear anybody grumbling about too many things that Facebook does badly, or that they don’t like, so I don’t see any reason why they would change.
The future doesn’t allow for another
The world of online and more specifically how people spend their time online, is changing. News and media is changing, advertising is changing, interaction and communication is changing. This evolution of online interaction is going to continue and I don’t think the future would allow for another Facebook. Social networks, channels and interaction will remain, but probably not in their current format. It might be more vertical networks will spring up for groups with common interests, it might be we hold all our information in a cloud environment and choose where to expose it, meaning there is no true network at all. Either way, I’m pretty sure the future doesn’t support the emergence of a dominant single player such as Facebook.
You can see everything from the top
Times gone by have taught us that the best place to fight a battle from is up high. Whether at the top of a hill, or the turrets of a castle, it is much easier to win when you’re in top spot as you can see everything going on below, and pick of the challengers one by one. Both Facebook and Google have already shown their ability to do this in their respective markets. Google has quickly picked some of the best points about bing, and integrated them into its own design. Facebook has made steps to see off the challenge of twitter by making its status updates more conversational an allowing you to reference other users with the @ function. It has also taken elements of digg and reddit and developed its “like” system and Facebook connect and no doubt it is in the process of developing a check-in system to counter Foursquare’s challenge. As challengers enter the market the dominant players can quite easily replicate the best bits and integrate with their own platform, effectively seeing off the challenge before it develops and giving their users no reason to move.
These reasons, plus many more are why there will never be another Facebook, whatever the future of social media holds. The media will continue to talk about Facebook killers, and many an entrepreneur will waste countless hours trying to build one. But in reality, the future is going to hold something completely different.
Robert Weatherhead is heads up the SME solutions function at Latitude Group Ltd, a leading UK digital marketing agency.