Has Facebook had its day?

In August this year, 13-year-old New Yorker Ruby Karp posted a blog on Mashable, with the title: “I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook”. Just under two months and 52,000 shares later, media industry experts have been forced to consider the notion that without teens, Facebook’s future is limited. Teens aside, there are even more pressing questions for business users to consider when targeting the consumer (or business) markets. With the ever-increasing presence of unsolicited advertising, the universally unpopular timeline ‘upgrade’, privacy concerns and now paid messaging, the question we ask is this: Has Facebook had its day?

“YES” says
Joe Akkawi, Managing Partner at Paz Marketing

JoeAkkawismall“While I’m not advocating that people walk away from Facebook, it’s quite evident they no longer reign supreme on the social media front”

There’s no denying that Facebook continues to grow despite the numerous challenges and issues it has faced. Can we comfortably say though that Facebook remains the behemoth it was one or two years ago? Recent numbers and studies show other social networking platforms overtaking Facebook in a multitude of areas, primarily user acquisition and business growth. Kuwait as a prime example has shown that Instagram is now the preferred platform of choice for businesses to grow and sell their products – all the way from high-end products to selling Sheep for Eid (http://instagram.com/sheeps_sell).

Facebook’s move to monetise Instagram also demonstrates the heat that the platform is facing in terms of generating solid revenue from its own channels. It is also a clear indicator that they are looking for other business streams.

Facebook has come under major scrutiny surrounding its privacy concerns, affecting work productivity and the psychological effect on its users. A recent study from the University of Michigan found that the use of Facebook leads to declines in moment-to-moment happiness and overall life satisfaction in college-aged adults. Additionally, small businesses can easily become disheartened when comparing themselves to global brands running campaigns at a level that takes a tremendous amount of strategy, resources (both internal and external) and expertise. Platforms like Instagram can alleviate such issues.

On a purely business front, a 2012 Forrester study analysed 77,000 online transactions over a two-week period and found that less than 1 per cent of transactions could be traced to social media compared with 40 per cent from organic or paid search (which Google dominates). It also highlights the fact that the number of U.S. retailers with Facebook-enabled checkouts plummeted from 63 per cent in Q4 2011 to just 6 per cent in Q4 2012. That’s a 57 per cent drop in transactions.

While I’m not advocating that people walk away from Facebook, it’s quite evident they no longer reign supreme on the social media front. Other platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ have proved resilient and are showing tremendous growth coupled with solid numbers on customer acquisition. Just because some businesses are successful on Facebook, it doesn’t mean it’s the only – and correct – channel for you.

Contact Joe Akkawi at joe.akkawi@pazmarketing.com or follow him @joeakkawi


“NO” says Tahani Karrar-Lewsley, CEO & Executive Editor at Menar Media

tahaniksmall“Facebook now connects more than 1.15 billion people each month, and they are already thinking about connecting the next five billion”

Facebook has become an indispensable part of our lives. Those who suggest the world’s largest social networking site has had its day, just need to look at the numbers. Yes, inevitably some people close their accounts, but many more people join. Often those who leave sooner or later realise how disconnected they have become and quickly return.

Just six months ago the latest industry statistics showed Facebook took lead position compared to YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and others with just under one billion people signed on. The latest figures put total Facebook users at 1.15 billion, up 15 per cent – or 150 million users – in just six months. This is a clear sign that this social network is not dead and indicates it is on a rapid growth phase.

For almost ten years, Facebook has been on a mission to make the world more open and connected. This mission was reiterated by Mark Zuckerberg himself in August, when he announced Facebook now connects more than 1.15 billion people each month, and they are already thinking about connecting the next five billion. This is despite the vast majority of these remaining people in the world not even having access to the Internet.

Today, only 2.7 billion people are online – a little more than one third of the world. This figure is growing by less than 9 per cent each year – a remarkably slow growth spurt considering how early we are in the Internet’s development. Even though projections show most people will get smartphones in the next decade, most people still won’t have data access because the cost of data remains extremely high.

But that can be bypassed as industry players make Internet access more affordable by making data delivery more efficient and helping businesses boost Internet access by developing a new model to get people online.

Another vote of confidence is Facebook’s increased development in mobile platforms, adding better functionality, apps and ads. This is particularly important for the Middle East, as recent Google research has ranked the UAE number one in global smartphone penetration, at 73.8 per cent.

Contact Tahani Karrar-Lewsley at info@menarmedia.com or follow her @menarmedia

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