As Facebook celebrated its tenth anniversary on February 4, 2014, many users are asking what is next for the multi-billion dollar social media network. Facebook has been through an immense evolution over the last ten years. What started out as a social experiment in Mark Zuckerberg’s college dorm room only accessible to Harvard students has grown into a global company with over a billion users. Facebook users include celebrities, athletes, businesses, political figures, and everyday folks like you and me. Facebook’s design has gone through many transformations with additions such as the “Newsfeed” and “Timeline”. Facebook even got its own movie, The Social Network, in 2010.
With over a billion users already, it is hard to believe Facebook can continue to grow at such a fast pace. While 83% of people who surf the Web have a Facebook, the social media site saw a 3% decline in active users last year. Facebook is seeing a decline in many of its teen users. As parents and teachers join the social network, teens are driven to other apps such as Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram (WSJ Olivarez-Giles).
In order to retain current users and attract more users, Facebook is looking to step up their mobile capabilities. Although Facebook’s shift to mobile came a little late, Facebook is back on track and ready to compete. A recent Facebook earnings report showed that 53% of the company’s ad sales came from mobile (Forbes Hof). The social media site currently offers six related apps including Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Facebook Pages Manager, Facebook Camera, Facebook Poke, and its newest addition Paper. Most users are familiar with Facebook and Facebook messenger that work similarly to the desktop website. Facebook Pages Managers helps admins connect with their audience and keep up with activity on multiple Pages. Facebook Camera allows users to view their friends’ photos and share photos quicker. Facebook Poke is dedicated to sending and receiving “Pokes” from your Facebook friends. Paper, Facebook’s newest app, offers users an alternate way to use Facebook on their mobile phones, without disrupting people who have gotten used to the old app. Paper allows users “an interactive way of looking at photos that…allows users to pan back and forth across a photo simply by moving the phone from side to side.”(WSJ Albergotti). Paper meshes stories from users’ own newsfeeds with those from established media outlets. The app displays information in segments such as Headlines, Pop Life, Tech, Flavor, and more.
Paper is rumored to be the first in a new suite of apps for mobile that will repackage the Facebook mobile experience. With Paper, Facebook is hoping to give users a new experience and a better way to enjoy the site. By combining Facebook news with news from outside media outlets, Facebook is creating a new avenue for competition. Flipboard and Skygrid are two popular apps people used for a personal news experience.
As Facebook creates new apps for mobile, their advertising sales are likely to increase as companies look for new ways to target consumers. Facebook’s ability to target very large audiences based on demographics, interests, comments, and likes is a big draw for advertisers. With the expansion of its mobile capabilities, it is likely that Facebook’s ad revenues will continue to grow.
With the additional mobile apps, Facebook is hoping to lure back some teen users they may have lost. In the short run, it is possible for Facebook to win back some of their customers they may have lost, but nothing lasts forever. While Paper seems like a great opportunity for Facebook, it is nothing groundbreaking. Competition exists on many platforms and channels. Unless Facebook can create something new, original, and innovative, it is unlikely Facebook will be as successful at its 20th anniversary as it was at its 10th anniversary.
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