The Business Side of Social Media: A Pinnacle of Individuality or Uniformity?
How Facebook Continues to Reinvent Itself in an Effort to Stay on Top
The number of online social networks has ballooned in recent years to a menagerie of different kinds, from the behemoths of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to niche sites like Kaboodle (for shoppers to post about their passion for shopping), Groupon (because everyone loves sales), and Soundcloud (for music-lovers to share and discuss songs while they’re playing). With so many options one would think that the diversity of social media is only going to grow, right? Not necessarily. With companies like Facebook sweeping up any network in their path, the major social networks are becoming more and more similar.
Facebook has always had a tendency to buy up its smaller competitors and pool their unique features into the Facebook family whenever another site starts to grow rapidly, as seen when the company created “Facebook Gifts” from social gifting service Karma, revamped their internal messaging system with assets bought from group messaging service Beluga, or the muted success of “Facebook Places” born out of Check-In platform Hot Potato. All of these features in Facebook are blatant attempts to mimic the defining feature of the new “big thing” of an external website that the wily internet masses have embraced (Gifting site Wrapp, photo sharing site lightbox.com).
There are dozens of these acquisitions and integrations, most notably the $1,000,000,000 (yes, that’s one billion dollars) purchase of photo-filtering and sharing site Instagram. Now the Instagram deal might initially appear odd – the concept of a simple photo-sharing service mixed with basic photography filters seems like something that Facebook’s army of engineers could create themselves and it is. That’s where the decline of diversity begins to be apparent; the goal was not to increase value for their users, but rather to increase traffic between the Facebook site and a Facebook-owned external site, Instagram, which means more advertising revenue for every picture that an “Instagram” user posts on Facebook.
This profitable, but bland mentality of “build-it or buy-it” is not unique to online social networks, it is a pillar of corporate success strategies (where it’s called cost management), but doing so eliminates the nuances that differentiated the networks when they initially embraced individuality and gained their massive followings to begin with. Now Facebook wants to take over Twitter’s uniqueness and pass it off as its own. But Twitter is too large to simply buy for the hashtag functionality, so instead they are going to build it.
With huge resources to buy or build any new service they want, there’s little reason for Facebook to slow down their money-making machine. In fact, they are ramping up their service updates to take on the biggest name in online advertising: Google. Facebook’s new Graph Search function appears poised to take a sizable chunk of Google’s online search market share, simply by offering search results from their proprietary mountain of personalized data, which is currently being reinvigorated with new profile formatting to push users to frequently update and maintain their “Likes” and “Interests.” No longer will it be “Googling yourself” to see what personal information is online, it will be a social graph search that spans every nook and cranny of the online social media world that all falls under the same brand: Facebook.
In order to be successful in today’s business landscape, we encourage our clients to create a strategic presence on Facebook to promote their services. With the social media giant’s vast bank of searchable resources, a strong profile can help increase your SEO and lead to new business opportunities.