Personalization, recommended content, publishing functionality and live-video. Facebook has indisputable made a big step forward, expanding the user interface possibilities. On the other hand, nowadays it is becoming obvious that this evolution drives Facebook more from social network to complete digital-ecosystem, which is convenient for business, but is becoming less private place for ordinary users.

 

Background

12 years ago, Facebook started as a convenient place, where people can post information about themselves, their family and loved ones. For example, in contrast to Russia, where Facebook is often used for business, in the US and Europe, the network has always been a private place to share relatively personal content.

Such privacy, generally, was a major motivator for people to maintain their timelines and publish posts. And it is this ability to create a circle of close friends, which in many respects predetermined the initial success of Facebook.

Today, however, in pursuit of monetization, leadership is starting to more and more orient service not only on ordinary users, but also on business, introducing new changes and additions to functionality, allowing to target and promote brands in a more convenient way. And in many terms this is a big plus. However, it has a downside.

 

How people stopped to share content

For example, the studies of Bloomberg and The Information note, that over the last year activity of users in terms of how they share content, has decreased approximately by 21%. It may seem that this is just a temporary fluctuation. However, judging by the efforts, that Facebook itself applies in order to motivate people to share content, the problem really exists, and the company’s management declares it openly.

For example, on the pages of the same Bloomberg we can find statement of Mark Zuckerberg, who noted, that today Facebook is testing a variety of tactics, that could somehow motivate users to actively share their experiences and events, as it was before 2015. For example, the company tried to enter the “what happened a year ago on this day” function, which returned last year’s events of the same day. Facebook was also experimenting with individual actions and campaigns, such as “Mother’s Day”.

Another attempt was an introduction of Facebook Live – functionality of online-streaming video, which at first was quite welcomed by media creators, but later it turned out that it hadn’t greatly changed the situation.

 

Why is this happening
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This trend, in fact, has nothing wrong. In many terms, this is a logical consequence of development and increasing coverage of social networks, which on the one hand, increases their influence, but, on the other hand, is pumping more pressure and responsibility towards those, who share content.

And if in the case of business a greater reach – it’s always a plus. So for ordinary users the fact that their account and personal data are available for more than 1.5 billion people can serve as a significant barrier to any activity.

There are other reasons. For example, we should not forget a significant step, which has made messengers and platforms like Snapchat. Today, users have plenty of opportunities to choose, within the framework of which platform it would be easier for them to share photos and videos, for example, with their family.

Mark Zuckerberg, in general, also noted similar factors. In an interview with BuzzFeed News he said, that many people see sharing videos and photos in real time as a step of imposing on them certain responsibilities. Hence – the stress and significant barrier, whether or not share content.

However, unlike us, Mark believes that this barrier by itself is not a problem, because “Many significant innovations have been made through overcoming fear to post this or that significant video or photo.”

However, some experts hold the view, that the Mark underestimates the scale of the problem.

Nicholas Carr, author of the book “The Shallows and The Glass Cage”, points out another significant problem – a change in the context of social networks. In his article he writes, that formerly there was a clear separation between your personal life and the way you live in social networks. In fact, these were two parallel incarnations. Today there is no such border. Within the framework of social platforms everything is combined: your interests, shopping, events, actions, feelings and emotions – that is, a large part of what defines your daily life and activities.

 

About personalization

Another important catalyst of this trend – it is the personalization of data. A little earlier, the possibility of collecting user data was making Facebook a very convenient platform for advertisers, who had an opportunity not only to create ads, but also to make them sufficiently precise and targeted (with the same interests, geography, preferred pages, groups), etc.

However, such functionality has gone a little further. And now collecting data about users is used to show them relevant feed, based on their behavior within the Facebook ecosystem. And taking into account, that this ecosystem now includes not only the placement of your personal posts and photos, but also shopping, communication with brands and many other events, it is obvious that there is no dualism of your life and your life in social networks anymore. As most of your actions are reflected in the social network itself, whether you like it or not.

 

Implications for industry

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We don’t want to make apocalyptic predictions. As, obviously, that the company will continue to update the interface and look for new methods of solving problem. However, we can already make some basic conclusions:

  • Facebook is becoming less private place for users, so the level of sharing is unlikely to return to previous levels;
  • Users will increasingly differentiate their choice in the matter of content posting. For example, we can expect a shift to Snapchat, which today seems to be much more comfortable and private place to share personal content;
  • Nevertheless, Facebook has never been so interesting for business. Opportunities to advertise your product or service by relatively organic methods is growing. And big data so carefully collected by Facebook, will remain here ROI campaigns here relatively high.
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