Facebook’s Stock Is Up: Is the Future Still Bright?

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For years Facebook has been the go to social network for me and most of my friends. I’ve been active on the site since early 2006, back when Facebook first started letting high schoolers on its site with an active .edu email address. Back then Facebook was cool. It was exclusive. Grandmothers and little cousins need not apply. For years I would listen to contrarians say how Facebook was played out and not a preeminent place to share their lives anymore. I strongly disagreed. How could they say that when Facebook boasted 750 million active users? Well, despite lofty goals of having every person on Earth with a profile, Facebook’s best days are behind it. Here are 5 reasons why:

Competition This is nothing new. Facebook had to deal with MySpace before it and Twitter, which gained in popularity after Facebook made a name for itself. Surely no social network could dethrone Facebook, right? Well, Maybe. But several social networks could. More and more teens and young adults are taking their sharing elsewhere. For many, the witty status updates of yesteryear are today’s tweets. Mobile uploads still happen but more than likely those same photos have appeared on Instagram as well. At least for me, Facebook used to be the be-all end-all place to see what was going on in my friend’s lives. Today it’s more of an incomplete picture.

Mobile PC sales have been going down for some time now. It only makes sense that devices like tablets and smartphones will pick up the slack. Mobile browsing tripled from March 2011-March 2013. I do the lion share of my web browsing on either my iPad or my iPhone. Do you know how long it took Facebook to release an iPad optimized app? Some 20 months. Yes, you could sign it through a web browser but the experience wasn’t built for a touch screen and was average at best. Still, with Facebook’s tablet and smartphone apps I am left wanting more. My newsfeed takes too long to update and comments and likes do not register the way they should. Shouldn’t a company with as much money as they have be able to figure out such a critical problem?

Cool Factor Facebook is first and foremost a company. Their goal is to make money for their shareholders. That is why long ago they loosened up the requirements to join from having a .edu email, to anyone 13 or older. I fully understand and agree with why they did this. The only problem is that while doing so greatly increased their user base, it made the product a less exclusive and to some less “cool” place to spend time. I’m sure most 20 somethings have had the fortune of getting a friend request from one of their parents. Do you accept or pretend like you didn’t see it? It’s not as if there aren’t privacy settings to hide undesirable posts, but that takes time and effort. Many would rather take their sharing elsewhere, far from their overbearing relative, who you know will see EVERYTHING you post AS SOON as you post it.

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Cutting Edge Facebook did a great job helping to make social networks what they are today. That is great, but as is often the case, what have they done for us lately? I find Google+ to be a far more eloquent product than Facebook. Everything from how you interact with others to how you navigate through the app/website just feels like a better experience to me. The problem I have with Google+ is that hardly anyone I know keeps an active presence. You can have all the bells and whistles in the world but without an active user base you are left with a lackluster product. A combination of Google+’s design team and Facebook’s user base would make me much more likely to share more than I currently do.

Pages Whether it’s businesses or celebrities, I find Facebook Pages to be a step behind the likes of Twitter. Something about your favorite Tech blog littering your newsfeed doesn’t lend  itself to being as friendly as it does on your Twitter feed. Supposedly Facebook is trying to fix that problem by coming out with a new app geared towards getting celebrities to be more active on the site.  This may be too little too late.

I still think Facebook has its role to play in our society. I still check it daily and get notifications straight to my phone. It’s just that these notifications are rarely the wall posts that I cared about in 2006. Instead they are invitations to play Farmville with an aunt I haven’t seen since I was 12. What was once a great experience, which led the most introverted of us to express our thoughts publicly, has instead turned into something less essential. A site where the majority of the users don’t share and instead see what their ex girlfriend from high school is eating for dinner tonight. I guess that makes me the contrarian now.

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