Why Facebook is more important than your house

“What’s going to be the next Facebook?”

I love debating the implications of social media trends with my students and this question comes up a lot.

My short answer is “There isn’t going to be one” … a response which always results in surprised and confused faces!

Facebook going to be entrenched as the king of social networking sites because the cost of switching to something else — for most people — will be too high.

In our tech-addicted society of hyper-change, we’ve become conditioned to expect the next big thing. But every time we get our hands on the latest gadget or test drive an application, there is an inherent switching cost associated with that effort.  If we try it out and perceive that the benefits of switching are too low compared to the time and energy it takes to make the change, we’ll drop the idea and simply stick to what is already comfortable and familiar.

The idea of raising this psychological switching cost is at the very heart of most marketing efforts!  We want to create so much passion and loyalty for our products that consumers would never think of switching. I’m sure you know a person who will only buy one brand of car or only drink one brand of soft drink.

But for most decisions we make as consumers, this switching cost is relatively low. Unless we have extremely high loyalty to a product, we can usually just be influenced by a better deal — maybe a coupon, free shipping, or an extra feature.  Even a major purchase like a car or a house can be influenced by a discount.  These important big-budget, life decisions can even be driven by intangible values like convenience, design or color.

The psychology of Facebook

But switching away from Facebook may be a more difficult decision than choosing a new home!  In fact, most current users will probably never change to another social networking platform because the psychological and emotional investment in Facebook is so high.  That’s where they have their circle of online friends. That’s where they go to check on the Farmville crops.  That’s where they go to see the daily pictures of the new grandchild.  And that is where they are going to stay.

The psychological commitment and emotional investment in Facebook is enormous, and it’s growing every day as the company adds functionality and embraces third-party applications that add to the fun and the amount of time people spend on the site.

Why won’t there be a “next” Facebook?  Facebook is no longer a website. It’s a lifestyle.  And changing your lifestyle carries very, very heavy switching costs.

The cost of popularity

The addictive nature of Facebook means that it will be far too costly for any company to produce and market a product that will cut into their core customer base. Sure, successful niches will emerge to cater to special interests and those who simply hate Facebook for whatever reason.  But Facebook is going to rule as the English-speaking world’s most dominant social networking site.

But all is not rainbows and puppies for Facebook.  A world without significant competitors might seem like the best possible situation, but it may emerge as the platform’s biggest challenge. Bill Gates once famously said that if Apple didn’t exist he would have to invent them.  His point of course is that competition is essential to driving the continuous improvement needed to win customers and create meaningful new products.

There are serious implications of a world without true competition and that could ultimately be Facebook’s un-doing.  A monopoly breeds arrogance and complacency.  We’re already seeing this manifest itself in weekly headlines about the company’s seemingly cavalier attitude toward privacy and monetization strategies.  Without a true competitor to capitalize on these weaknesses, those problems will be addressed in a half-hearted way — there’s no real implication to Facebook’s bottom line. In fact, the Facebook Nation keeps growing.

With the impossibly high switching costs that Facebook sets higher each day, this may represent the one true threat to their dominance — scandal.  If something happened that compromised safety and personal security on a massive scale, it might open the door for a company whose competitive edge is lock-tight security.

Short of that, Facebook may just become a part of your family for life.  Agree?

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  • I don’t just think it’s the lack of competition, I also think that as Google have shown, there are risks in too much diversification. Google Wave and Buzz (and the much touted imminent Google social network) have shown that Google is going through its first major wobble. I suspect Facebook will go through similar problems if it tries to be all encompassing. Then again, perhaps it’s the emergence of a new improved walled garden. An AOL for the 21st century, if you like.

    In terms of B2B and marcoms, I’m not sure Facebook IS the future. There’s been a natural merging of the personal and private what with the paradigm shift we’ve seen with the emergence of social media online; however, it wouldn’t surprise me if B2Bs and B2Cs start to shift to new, emerging social portals.

    There’s a frustration in combining social and “shopping” – or being content marketed at. I suspect, a backlash will come with Facebookers looking to protect their “personal” space, just as we’ve tried to shut out direct marketing on email.

  • markwschaefer

    @jonbuscall These are three excellent points Jon. Facebook needs to focus on rational organic growth and stick to its core competencies. And I agree that the people are sick of being marketed to. They come to Facebook to relax, not to be bombarded by ads. I think Facebook will be smart about this — they can’t turn people off — but are companies smart enough to show restraint? Seems like every marketing plan starts with Facebook these days. Thanks for the superb insights Jon.

  • KristenDaukas

    That’s the 2nd time in as many days that I’ve heard the AOL/Facebook comparison. What’s funny is look where AOL is now.. it DID finally “fall”. There are those that still hang on to it (my mother) and it’s still “my” instant messaging choice but that’s it. It blazed the path but like all things “giant” failed to stay relevant and instead tried to exist on it’s status of “the one”. I believe that FB will go down in the books as being the ground breaker but, I am curious to see the David that succeeds in taking Goliath down a notch…

  • markwschaefer

    @KristenDaukas A fascinating analogy. I think the difference may be — and I’m open for debate here — is that AOL was a paid service with (at first) little unique content. It was a commodity and peopel did not have emotional ties to it. So, the switching costs were low. Once lower-cost competitors started coming on the scene, AOL tried adding content, which raised their costs. So they had lower prices and higher costs. Hmm. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

    Facebook is free and as it says on its sign-up page “always will be.” So there is no hurdle there for consumers. And the “stickiness” of Facebook is extraordianry. People spend hours on the site every day enjoying the features. I think there are some significant differences in the two business models but would love to hear more on this conversation.

  • KristenDaukas

    @markwschaefer I agree with you 100%.. My point was the magnitude of AOL at first.. it was a pioneer in the on line world much the same as FB is in the social media world. I think any person or company that thinks they are unstoppable has self inflicted the first kink in the armor. I think it will always be relevant but I’m too pragmatic to think it will serve as the “only” place forever.

  • steve_dodd

    Mark, totally agree, there will not be “the next Facebook”, no differently than there wasn’t another Google (or Xerox or horse drawn buggy). But, Facebook certainly is doing a great job of negating it’s (Google’s) value all the same. And, as technolgoies change and Facebook becomes as set in their ways as all big companies evenutally do, something will come along and disrupt their business model.

  • C_Mazza

    Good points Mark, you are not the only one pushing me to Facebook and some of the reasons are listed here. Thanks.
    On what’s after Facebook? There could be something else, there were phones, then cells phones, there was email, now is facebook, someone just needs to come up with “it”. easier said than done.

  • HowieSPM

    I don’t think I will ever disagree with you more on anything you have ever written But feel free to try! LOL You know very well the wasteland of world beaters. AOL. Yahoo Search. Netscape. General Motors. Microsoft. Walmart. etc etc that lose their luster or their lead. Facebook has many problems including a horrible business model. It doesn’t work. Not just the business model. People hate the site but have no other option. Every initiative it takes has failed or underwhelmed so far including the social graph. Nothing gets seen on the site. Meaning if I make a post on Facebook I am lucky if 5-10% of my friends see it. The user interface is horrible and cluttered.

    Funny too your timing. My first guest blog post comes out today and I bring up new developments in Social that I think will really hurt Facebook. Remember we want a combo of privacy and public communication. And 70% of all Facebook accounts are 100% private closed to the world. That kind of hurts the FB business model doesn’t it? I just see a world waiting for something better and the minute there is they will jump ship. They did it not just once but many times before. We will revisit this 1 year from today Mark over beer and by then I should have the Scottish urinals installed at the pub we visit!

  • PeterMasseyBudd

    If you were facebook CEO and wanted to commit social suicide – how would you do it fastest? Maybe get wikileaks to share what you really think of your customers? Do a friends reunited – sell out to people who don’t understand free and try to milk it? Ideas?

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  • Mark, you hijacked my posting scheduled. I was planning on posting about consensus building, but I disagreed with you enough that your comment section just wasn’t large enough for my response 😉 So, my response is in my latest post.

    I see switching costs decreasing over time until there is a mass exodus: http://ericpratum.com/commitment-to-facebook-will-lessen-over-time/

  • markwschaefer

    @steve_dodd I’ll bet you have have left a hundred comments in ths community but rarely has one started with “totally agree!” Ha! You made my day! Thanks Steve.

  • markwschaefer

    @C_Mazza of course there will be evolution but I think Facebook is its own worst enemy : ) Thank you for your comment!

  • markwschaefer

    @HowieSPM I’m really glad you took this dissenting view Howie and i would love to compare notes over a beer some day. I would like to call your attention to two points you made 1) People hate it but there is no option — that’s partly my point here. What kind of resources would it take to bring them down? and 2) 70% of all facebook accounts are closed. It’s just a different business model but not a bad one. Are they making money? Umm, yeah.

    I’m not saying FB is not vulnerable. In fact, I said they are, but it is theirs to lose, isn’t it? Thanks for the opposing view!

  • markwschaefer

    @ericpratum So you disagree with me? Who do you think you are Mitch Joel or something? ; )

    I’m not sure we really disagree. As I said in my post, scandal and arrogance is where Facebook is most vulnerable. So we’re aligned there. But competitors? Who do you see as a viable competitor right now? If anything I see platforms like MySpace bowing before Facebook. Niche networks? Absolutely. A viable platform to take real marketshare? I don’t see anybody on the radar do you?

    Awesome post. Thanks for the dissent!

  • markwschaefer

    @KristenDaukas Oh absolutely. Whether they know it or not, they NEED a competitor!

  • markwschaefer

    @PeterMasseyBudd I’m sure we’ll get some ideas long these lines today. Thanks Peter!

  • Elyse_D

    Hi Mark!

    My first comment in a couple of months. Wow! Time flies. The little one is 8 weeks old already!

    I agree that the cost of switching social networks is high for most people and that it would take a mass exodus of users to really create a true competitor. I also think that most users will really only maintain one social network at a time, which pretty much lends itself to a social network monopoly. But will that monopoly continue to be Facebook?

    I agree with you that the biggest threat to Facebook is probably Facebook itself. If Facebook mishandles private information and goes overboard with marketing to users or sharing their information with marketers we could see a situation where users are looking for an alternative. There has to BE an attractive alternative though, and that means a flashy new place to play that has something Facebook doesn’t.

    I personally have already made my way through a couple of favorite networks, first it was Friendster, then MySpace and now Facebook. I’ve seen the rise and fall of enough social networks that my gut tells me there will be some newcomer who will become the next Facebook, although the barriers to success are higher now than they were.

    So to answer your question… No I don’t think Facebook will be a part of my family for life, but I DO think it’ll be around for quite some time.

  • markwschaefer

    @Elyse_D I am so happy to see you back in action and am delighted you are contributing to our community again.

    You raise an essential point, that of competitive differentiation. I am working with a little social start-up that has an outstanding business opportunity. But here is the question they can’t answer: “What happens when you achieve some success and Facebook steals your idea?” Certainly they could not withstand a court battle with Facebook, so their only option would be to settle or be bought by them. Either way, FB wins.

    So I’m not sure what it is gong to take to out-innovate FB since they have the resources to adapt, adopt or absorb all comers. I sincerely hope I’m wrong by the way. We will all lose out if they don;t have competition!

    Thanks so much Elyse!

  • Elyse_D

    @markwschaefer Very interesting point! Even a clever competitor with a superior product is vulnerable to being copied or bought by Facebook. I think it will take a combination of innovation and frustration — innovation on the part of the competitor and enough Frustration to create a major backlash against Facebook– to give a competitor enough momentum to become the next Facebook. It won’t be easy, but I am still hoping it could happen.

  • HowieSPM

    @markwschaefer You replaced my coffee! You are correct I know you brought up part of my point. And you know I never shy away from a dissenting opinion. Just normally we both have the same dissenting opinion =)

    The money maker is facebook digital ads. They work. I have a client who used them. They are a bit expensive. $0.25 a click but they are very highly targeted. But the Facebook Valuation of $33bil and all the hype is based on everything else. The clicking Like off Facebook and thus opening your facebook page to ads from that website. To openly sharing everything you do and them selling that data. Etc etc.

    I saw some other points here I liked in your discussions. I think Facebook would do better to invest in the user experience vs the marketing experience. I am sure you would agree the Social Media marketing on the site has been a flop so far.

  • @markwschaefer 😉 At the moment, I do not see a viable competitor, but given how quickly some of these sites have risen and fallen in the recent past, I think it is likely that a combination of the right scandal, a viable competitor, and an influential switching group will topple Facebook quickly. I don’t know which site/service could do that currently, but I see it happening for sure in the not-too-distant future.

    One of Facebook’s challenges will be keeping the user core around if a niche site pops up and takes, for example, all of the photo uploads, views, etc from the site. If a niche site shows it can do something like that better and the majority migrates to it for only for that service, it’s entirely possible that it could build out another branch for video, sharing, and so on and suddenly be eating Facebook’s lunch.

  • sally_g

    Good morning everyone! I’ve enjoyed my time here so far ~ Mark, your post introduced thoughts I hadn’t considered ~ and then the resulting comment stream shifted the conversation from what may be now to what could be later. Stimulating!

    Facebook (and Twitter and Blog Sites with Comment Streams) is a true social connection gift for Introverts. I am able to meaningfully connect with people from my past and present for durations of time that are acceptable to me, at times of the day that are conducive to me and at levels of signficance that feel safe for me.

    To contribute to the ‘what might be next’ conversation ~ I wonder if Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs might provide a clue. Continuing to look at this through the Introvert’s eyes, Facebook serves me well at the levels of Esteem and Belongingness. I can’t see it lifting me to the next levels though: self-actualization and self-transcendence. Perhaps a viable competitor who can build on the platform of online social connection in a way that allows those seeking information and means to connect to something beyond themselves or to optimize the edification of others in a collaborative way will emerge, for those more comfortable doing so in non-face-to-face, networking situations?

    At the very least – a place for people to expand their capacities and provide significance in a meaningful way with like-minded/hearted individuals while providing a greater sense of wholeness and purpose as human beings would probably be willingly received.

    I do look forward to the ‘next big thing’ though. I’m always inspired by the imagination, creativity and ingenuity of those who create something we’ve never seen or experienced before from within the wonder of their own minds.

    Also, kudos to Livefyre for putting your comment stream in reverse chronological order. I do prefer it that way as a Commenter.

  • markwschaefer

    @ericpratum I’m not sure I see it happneing as quickly as you do, but let’s stay tuned! Thanks again fro the great post, Eric.

  • markwschaefer

    @HowieSPM Agree that the user expereince is terrible. The other thing to consider is that the ad rates on FB seem to be artificially low right now. Eventually they will go up and profitability will too.

  • markwschaefer

    @sally_g That is a really interesting idea. Focusing on collaboration maybe as the next step? I don’t know. You have my wheels turning.

    I’m glad you said something abotu the order of the comments. I didn’t like it but livefyre said most people prefer them backwards. I think it is hard to follow because a comment stream is generally a narrative but we’ll see. Would appreciate input from others too.

    Thanks for the great contribution today!

  • markwschaefer

    In what has to be the grandest irony in social media history, I just learned that my Facebook account was hacked. I’m not kidding.

  • HowieSPM

    @markwschaefer All this love for Facebook and see they are still weasels. I bet Zuckerberg saw your post thought you were being sarcastic and put you in the hack que. I heard spends half his day on revenge activities =)

    Sorry to hear this what did they do? There are tons of dummy accounts on FB promoting porn links of major Brand Pages. And I read recently FB is the number one source of Malaware now on the internet.

  • sally_g

    @markwschaefer While @HowieSPM may be onto something with the Zuckerberg connection, I checked your Facebook page and offer up a couple of other potential culprits: Google Whore #1, 2 and/or 3 — or perhaps even North Korea.

  • KristenDaukas

    @sally_g @markwschaefer @HowieSPM It was the Dingo’s who did it. Oh wait.. they just ATE the baby. Sorry.

  • HowieSPM

    @KristenDaukas @sally_g @markwschaefer LOLWho need sherlock holmes I think ware very capable of figuring this out without paying a professional!

  • markwschaefer

    @HowieSPM @KristenDaukas @sally_g Yes, i believe it was North Korea. I knew I was on the edge with that post!

    Ironically, my step daughter was working on the computer in the next room and she asked me “why are you sending me messages on facebook when I am in the same hoiuse as you/” I wasn’t even on Facebook at the time and I watched as somebody pretending to me tried selling an online quiz to her. Apparently they were conducting this same converstion with a number of my friends simultaneously. What a world.

  • carriejbond

    @markwschaefer @sally_g My preference is to see comments in order, especially when I’m late to the party.

  • Sally_G

    @markwschaefer @HowieSPM @KristenDaukas So, this person pretending to be you ~ is he a Viking by any chance? If so, I think he’s dropped in here from time to time …

  • I don’t agree, actually. Yes, there are significant switching costs at the moment, but they can be overcome. Just like compatibility used to be a significant switching cost deterring PC users from changing to Apple, and it was eliminated.

    Maybe the next killer app is one that allows you to ‘transfer’ your network to another service?! Like changing your utility supplier, or mobile phone provider, or bank?

  • @markwschaefer @Elyse_D Didn’t this use to be the case with Microsoft? Too powerful for our own good, adapting, adopting or absorbing any good idea (think Netscape)?

  • markwschaefer

    @canhoto Hmm … that is a very interesting idea. Thanks for disagreeing : )

  • jacobvar

    Hi Mark,
    In my view, as we adopt these platforms in larger numbers, the current prevalent attitude of people will have to change. The concept of ‘ownership of privacy’ has to change. That change can be driven by users or by external competition. In fact, facebook may have to change to accomodate users before it becomes more expensive for facebook to retain us compared to the cost of having us move en-masse to more accomodating pastures. Maybe we are rewriting the very concepts of private ownership of social information. I think you, Mark, and others like you have an opportunity to think about what these new concepts will shape out to be and thus influence others to consider those changes. This instead of accepting the status quo(or a new method of preserving the status quo), where the power is simply transfered from one entity to another (e.g: google to facebook). I hope to make myself clearer in my next blog post, but just a friendly heads up to you that I will be calling you out on your stand on the ‘Klout’ issue :).

  • SocialityMedia

    Hi Mark,
    Thomas Power of Ecademy posted a youtube video The Bank of Facebook http://youtu.be/XT6b_jXsN6M
    and I totally got what Thomas was saying – It’s the one with the ‘lists’ that will overtake us for sure 🙂

  • markwschaefer

    @jacobvar Like any enterprise, the public will ultimatelyy decide and “vote.” I’m not sure how much one blogger can do, but I appreciate your vote of confidence — as you call me out : ) Thanks Jacob.

  • markwschaefer

    @SocialityMedia This was an interesting video but I really don’t agree with much of what he’s saying. The group buying concept is interesting. But overall, his point reinforces the idea that Facebook is here to stay. Thanks so very much for providing this fascinating contribution to the discussion!

  • drewhawkins

    Wow, like the parallel drawn with the emotional investment of Facebook vs the same of a house. I agree with you, that without a competitor, Facebook does risk complacency. Even though they dominate, Google at least has some moderate competition in the search department with Bing and Yahoo. The two aren’t huge competitors nor threaten market share. They are, however, just big enough to keep Google in check with search.

  • markwschaefer

    @drewhawkins Well said Mr. Hawkins. Thanks!

  • ken_rosen

    Hi Mark. I agree with your premise about the pain of a person relocating, but the conclusion assumes a status quo on the way relocation can happen. If I need to pack up stuff and move my furniture myself, I might never move. But if I can write a check, plug in a new address into my GPS, and go to a new place after work knowing my stuff will be in place, I might move more often (yep, know one person who did this). Like Canhoto, I expect a technological change–possibly forced by Bill’s buddies at Justice–could open the door to compatibility or even exodus. Of course, that assume a technology change we don’t know about motivated by a value prop we can’t imagine! So, uh, might be a while.

    Cheers, Ken
    Performance Works
    Blog: Performance Talks, http://www.PerTalks.com

  • mijori23

    @markwschaefer @jonbuscall The solution to to Facebook dominance, as happened with Microsoft, will come in the form of an open source solution. In the case of Microsoft, it was Linux. Despite transforming into hundreds of variant distros, Linux has proven to be a worthy alternative to Windows dominance. There is now a linux for every situation: from corporate, fully-supported Red Hat and Mandrake to all the mini distros that can even run off a floppy disk.

    It’s too soon to tell if Diaspora is the open-source solution to challenge FB yet. But it’s intention to give total control and ownership of users’ data to the users themselves is a feature too far for FB to assimilate. If people can be persuaded about the advantages of owning and controlling their social networking experience, then Diaspora has a real chance of growing and taking mind-share. I am one of the fortunate few who doesn’t have an FB account, therefore, I’ll be closely following Diaspora and other FB alternatives. My social house is a duffel bag at the moment, and I’m ready to move in somewhere of my own choosing ; )

  • markwschaefer

    @ken_rosen Good thinking Ken. This is a premise similar to what @canhoto describes. The big hurdle would be that the whole network moves — or perhaps there would be seamless integration between FB and another platform? In which case FB’s entire model crumbles. Any way, we are probably setting forth a business case for some future entrepreneur. I am sure there is no shortage of folks trying to plot the overthrow of the empire. That is another big issue with being number one — you ARE the target! Thanks for the great comment!

  • BloggingBizMom

    Although FB is big, I think they can be brought to their knees ….like many have pointed out, look at AOL, MySpace, friendster and others. Big one day, in the shadows the next.

    Frankly I go to FB to promote my blogs and my servcies….To keep everything separate, I have a personal account for friends and family and 2 biz accounts.

    What I love about FB is you can tell how serious people are about their business. ….I tried to contact a woman who has done some blog design work for me in the past.Went to FB to msg her.

    Noticed she was on Farmville alot…She never answered my email.

    While I believe Farmville and the likes are great ways for people to “relax”, if they are relaxing all day, I have to wonder if they can “leave the Farm” long enough to work on my stuff….

    I found another designer- and if I had the chance, I would probably go to a new social networking platform. I figure I can stay with FB until I create a circle of friends in the new network….or keep both, like Friendfeed and Twitter.

  • jacobvar

    @markwschaefer a blogger like you could tell us what you would ‘like to see’ . And leave the rest to the “vote” you speak about. May just be that your vision is what inspires another Zuckerberg. If it resonates it may be picked up by the man himself. Or maybe that a spark you light will be picked up by others who will expand on it. Maybe you already lit that spark :).

  • markwschaefer

    @jacobvar You way, way, way over-estimate my influence. But perhpas that is what I like about you Jacob : ) Thanks for the comment. made me smile today!

  • markwschaefer

    @BloggingBizMom Very interesting take on FB! Another perspective is that people are sick of being marketed to, especially on Facebook. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment today!

  • ginidietrich

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, mostly because I’m asked what is going to happen to Twitter and Facebook in the next two years. I agree that the cost of switching is pretty high and pretty painful, but big companies have been taken down of late, including AOL and MySpace. I think, though, the difference between those companies and Facebook is they didn’t spread the generations, the class levels, the educated or not, and every race, shape, and size. It’s hard to argue with 550 million users. But, just like the pending Groupon acquisition by Google, Facebook too could become a monopoly and our government will force them to sell off assets and support competitors. So I don’t know if I totally agree, though I see your point (and hope to build a business that is too painful to leave). If technology didn’t change our lives so quickly, I’d give you a wholehearted yes!

  • ginidietrich

    @canhoto Ohhh! I like this thinking! A LOT.

  • ginidietrich


  • ScottHepburn

    @ginidietrich I’m with Gini on this: Never say never.

    As I said in a recent post, yes, Facebook is huge. It’s worth a kajillion clams. Zuckerberg is a genius. It’s woven into every aspect of our lives. Until it’s not. Until something displaces it. Until a bad investment decision. Until Zuck screws something up. Until regulators show up.

    The cost of switching long-distance providers used to be unbearable. It wasn’t financial cost, per se, so much as hassle. So what happened? Cell phones came along. Now we don’t choose between MCI and AT&T for long-distance…because we don’t even HAVE long-distance.

    I think the more interesting question, though, isn’t “What will be the next Facebook?” The more interesting question is “What does that question mean?”

  • markwschaefer

    @ScottHepburn @ginidietrich I really don’t think we are disagreeing. FB is absolutely vulnerable to attack, scandal, controversy and government intervention. That’s why I think they are their own worst enemy.

    I do think that it is important to distinguish the new competitive environment, however. Historically, there has been vital competition in most products — cars, appliances, TV networks, soap — you name it, because switching costs are realtively low. But it would take a LOT to get me to switch away from Twitter. In fact I would fight it. Of course if Twitter of Facebook destroy themselves, that is another matter : )

  • Elyse_D

    @markwschaefer Oh my gosh! That is too funny. I got a weird chat from a friend of mine who was trying to get me to do an IQ quiz. I figured it was hacked and just chatted that I would check it out later (so I didn’t offend the friend if it was her, but still not checking the link figuring it could be a virus).

  • markwschaefer

    @Elyse_D I’m writing a little post on this incident. Apparently this scam was widespread and FB did NOTHING about it. Unfortunately, the malaise I predicted from lack of competition is already true at FB

  • steve_dodd

    @markwschaefer @Elyse_D hmmm, is this where I get to say “told ya so”???? it’s not just lack of competition but as with other “free” services in this new era, it’s more a “catch me if you can” mentality unfortunately. But, we’ve had this discussion many times before……just thought I’d remind you LOL. The old Wild Wild West is now the World Wide Web.

  • ginidietrich

    @markwschaefer @ScottHepburn There is only one thing I don’t like about you Mark. You always create this “on the fence” mindset in me. I don’t know how you do it, but you do it. And I’m normally very decisive and extremely opinionated. I’m with you that you’d have to take me kicking and screaming from Twitter and Facebook (I love FB), but I also preach to clients that they should have a home base with social platform outlets. I love what @canhoto describes because that would allow you to transfer your communities to any platform. Now THAT is brilliant!

  • markwschaefer

    @ginidietrich @ScottHepburn @canhoto Well, I get people thinking i guess! There is just buzz of sameness coming from the social web and sometimes i just poke my head out of the hole and go whoa — something ain’t right here : )

    A pleasure and an honor to have you comment Gini.

  • BloggingBizMom

    @markwschaefer True, that’s why I try to keep my accounts separate. If someone doesn’t want to be marketed to, don’t follow my biz account!

  • DaveTeixeiraIBM

    I agree. Facebook is the social networking equivalent of Microsoft. It will have many competitiors and critics, but as long as they do not destory their brand equity with a major scandal, FB will be ruler of the socieal networking space for a long time.

  • DaveTeixeiraIBM

    I agree. Facebook is the social networking equivalent of Microsoft. It will have many competitiors and critics, but as long as they do not destory their brand equity with a major scandal, FB will be ruler of the socieal networking space for a long time.

  • Thomas_M

    Facebook has not existed long enough to be as entrenched as you claim. And how hard is it to switch to the next ‘thing?’ One status update tells EVERYONE where to find you. Easy and not-unexpected in our short attention span world.
    And let’s not pretend that there are anything like 550 million unique, real users of Facebook. I would guess less than half that number when you subtract duplicate accounts, spammers, and outright criminals.
    I would love to buy Facebook for what it will be worth in five years if I could sell it for what it’s supposedly worth today.

  • markwschaefer

    @Thomas_M I once had a student tell me that nobody in her family — including her grandmother — makes a move without putting on Facebook. While this might be difficult for you and I to understand, for many, many people, it is most definitely entrenched. People have a very deep emotional attachment. Its not a matter of moving, its a matter of moving your entire network, abandoning your games and a familiar interface. Not insignificant for many people.

    Thanks very much for the dissenting opinion. Much appreciated!

  • Ayngelina

    I once read that the genius of Facebook was incorporating photos. Many people felt it was too much trouble to switch and re-upload their favourite family photos to a new site. Once they added chat I think it really anchored the site on the desktop as it was one less application we had to open. All my friends are on Facebook, they aren’t all on MSN. I no longer use MSN.

  • KristenDaukas

    @Ayngelina I agree with that one.. I started my “family blog” in 2002 in order to share photos with family who wasn’t around.. sadly, that blog is very neglected now because it’s so much easier for them to keep up via FB.

  • markwschaefer

    @KristenDaukas @Ayngelina Key insight!

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  • “Facebook is no longer a website. It’s a lifestyle. And changing your lifestyle carries very, very heavy switching costs.”
    This Mark, are the best lines anyone said about the web in a LONG time. I am thinking exactly the same thing. Many don’t get that it’s behaviour and habits not our thinking that drive our actions. Facebook will stick around, a LOT longer than many believe.
    Great post, let me buffer that! 🙂

  • Thanks Leo. I have to admit i am getting a little worn down by all the people who think I’m nuts. Yes, we are conditioned to expect the next technological change, but people are not understanding the way this site has become integrated into lives. Glad to have a supporter!

  • I’ve encountered a lot of people who are disenchanted with facebook (since this post being written) and have decided to use it once a week or month rather than hourly. Maybe the cost of *staying* is too high.

    Here’s the real rub: What if someone made a new network that made switching easy? I envision a metaplatform where old, current & new social platforms fold into it.

    I’m interested to see what the ads on Facebook will do to it’s popularity. There was a point when I thought, ‘Wow, I love that’ on what was on my sidebar but now say, ‘What was Facebook thinking?’

    We’re just social scientists playing with what works & doesn’t work. Experimenting with what it is to be human. That’s just my two cents and at the value of the dollar today, it’s not worth much. 🙂

  • Wow nice job tweeting this out tonight! I put it into Instapaper and read it over and the comments.  I kept waiting for someone to talk about the fact that we can download our information from Facebook. 

    A new social platform or website would make for easy import of that file we downloaded from Facebook.  Install your facebook file and you’re in.  Now you just have to try and convince the rest of your network to join you.   Possible? Maybe.  

    Facebook has been the only platform that I noticed it grab the status quo and hit generations within family.  I could not image my parents bothering to join another social platform, but I’ll ask them soon enough anyways.  I’m now curious.    I think it took a lot for some people to come around to adopting Facebook into their lifestyle and to move is a huge emotional scenario.

    There are a lot of niches that are really interesting and they’re creating huge loyalty – I’m just a casual “designer” type and I love hanging out on Dribbble.com. 

    This brings up something that I’ve talked about on my blog and on the blog of Thomas Hawk, a fellow photographer with a big voice.    He often talks about Flickr and brings up ways Flickr could improve, make money, improve the experience and such.  I took a different stance on a blog post of his and asked if he could realistically see Flickr adding features to improve things or if he could realistically see Facebook adding a few photo related features to decimate any hopes of Flickr.

    I wonder if we could approach this same thought with Flickr in mind.  It’s free but does have a pro option – really cheap pro option that doesn’t do much but it’s a benefit that existed before Facebook (correct me if I’m wrong).   Facebook comes along and there is no limit to uploading photos.  Everyone you know on Flickr is now on Facebook.  

    Flickr’s user experience is equally shit. Many users are very vested in it though – look at Thomas Hawk with 10’s of Thousands of images uploaded. People have been pro members for years upon years! To drop the pro option now would mean only 200 of their photos would be shown vs thousands and thousands.  Flickr’s lack of competition allowed for what? 1 redesign in years? It’s still terrible.  
    Right now there is a few new social platforms emerging for photos and one is slowly moving or planning on becoming a new entertainment platform.  The entertainment platform is Instagram and the newer option for photographers is 500px.com  –  500px is putting user experience and beauty at the forefront while Flickr remains a mess.  Both Instagram and 500px have been mentioned as “the new flickr” a number of times now and I see much more value in those to social sites than Flickr [even Dribbble is referring more people to my websites].

    I bring this all up because we may not see the erosion of Facebook right now – it might not be there or evident yet.  We like to look at this as if there will be a Facebook Rapture, where the truly socially enlightened will find a new and better platform and the rest will be left to burn in Facebook.  

    Facebook is lifestyle for many and it’s wild! I’m amazed that many people don’t spread their social footprint. I’ve often thought many people aren’t even aware there is an entire internet at their finger tips.  The walls of Facebook are enough.

    Seriously thought provoking article that I should have caught long ago. 

  • I tested this theory the other day. There were some teens in a class i was teaching. I asked them — would you take $5,000 to move off of Facebook? Without hesitation, they all said no.You bring up some interesting points. Thanks for commenting.

  • Kevinb_mn

    the key will be how facebook will continually evolve. I think mySpace and others failed to do this

  • CJR

    massage received and understood. stay in touche

  • Great point Scott,
    That long distance issue became irrelevant as the ground shifted under the business model.

    The same is happening with social networking; protocols are being established which allow our social graph to be a transportable & interactable entity: an entity which is not “owned” by one website: but it can be intetracted with by many.

    Facebook got first mover advantage because they essentially created a walled garden where all of the essential stuff was found in one easy place. The future will be where we hand pick the social services to suit us. Sound hard? It won’t be. Because the market won’t allow it.

    This is the generation where kids hot their parents (and grand parents) on Facebook. They can weave the same magic elsewhere.

    Facebook is safe. Not by a loooong way.


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  • Lemp38

    Facebook is definitely entrenched in the “younger generation”… Hard for us to understand if we didn’t grow up with Facebook but for those coming of age today, they certainly do! Checking Facebook to them is like checking emails for those of us in our working prime.

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