According to The Economist “Russia’s alleged manipulation of Facebook users will harm the company. On February 16th special counsel Robert Mueller filed conspiracy and fraud charges against 13 Russians for interfering in America’s 2016 election; Facebook was mentioned no fewer than 35 times as a place where Russian trolls swayed Americans through targeted political advertising and curated posts.” But that maybe the least of its problems.
Facebook probably knows more about its users than a lot of people would ever know. Their business model has always been to launch it first and fix it later, but that doesn’t work when you continually make mistakes.
Now comes news that [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]users are leaving Facebook in droves and that marketers have finally learned that the site is nothing but another media portal.[/inlinetweet] Another signal that social media has passed its peak?
Mr Zuckerberg has made big promises, but didn’t have the gonads to face questions from Congress and instead sent the company legal team. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] Ms Sandberg was supposed to be the “adult” in the room, but can anyone name one accomplishment she has made to Facebook other than collecting a lot of money in stock and salary?[/inlinetweet]
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]And with all this going on where the hell is all the social media experts who were mouthpieces for Facebook during the short lived age of social media marketing[/inlinetweet]? These are the people who improved their personal brands through a myriad of bullshit trying to tell us all that we HAD to be on Facebook.
Yet most analysts and investors are still exuberant about future prospects for Facebook, which with a market value of $521bn is the world’s sixth biggest publicly traded firm. They may be underestimating some of the risks the firm faces. One challenge, which has been highlighted by the Russia controversy, is its sloppiness. For a company whose sales pitch to advertisers is that it offers precision, targeting and transparency superior to traditional media, including television, it is remarkable that it has struggled to track the movement of ad dollars and content on its properties.
Facebook is banking that future growth will come from luring more advertising spending away from television, but this will require investment in video content to the tune of billions of dollars. Meanwhile, growth rates for digital advertising are bound to slow. This is particularly true in America, where digital’s share of total ad spending—which today stands at 44%—outstrips the percentage of time people spend on digital versus traditional media.
Can Facebook respond to the challenges it faces? I’m not sure. It has to reinvent itself to woo back users and today, with a lot of people, Facebook is a “has been”.