The Disruptive Technology that will Replace Facebook

By Neicole Crepeau, Contributing {grow} Columnist

A few months ago, I published a post here with my prediction that Facebook would decline in popularity, and that it would do so, in part, because it doesn’t put users first. Some disagreed with my assertion that Facebook as a destination would become a thing of the past. Here’s why I’m right.

When you’re the size of Facebook, the fall is a long one, so Facebook won’t disappear in the next year. The network is likely to experience a significant drop within the next five years, though. (We may even be seeing the first signs in Facebook’s recent decline in traffic and lower use among kids.) Why? Because Facebook doesn’t put its customers first, it is highly vulnerable to a new, disruptive technology.

Facebook’s main advantage over similar, competing social networks is the head start it gained, meaning it’s now the place where all of our friends and family are. We aren’t loyal to Facebook, though. The situation is akin to picking which bar to go to on Saturday night.  You might have three bars to choose from. Two you really like. One is just mediocre. But all your friends are going to the mediocre bar. So that’s where you go, too. The company you’re with is more important than the place you’re at.

That’s exactly why Facebook is vulnerable, though. If it was creating a great user experience and constantly providing innovative, desirable features, it would be one of our top destinations. Since it’s not, if a few key friends start to go to another bar, we’re likely to start going there, too. The only thing keeping us on the Facebook website over another location is the other people on it.  As more and more friends go to another bar, eventually there won’t be any reason to stick with Facebook as a destination.

All that’s lacking is that nicer bar that starts to draw people away: the disruptive technology. To understand the likely nature of that technology, consider the way that socializing and content discovery has changed over the years.

To date, it’s largely been a battle to be “the place” on the internet.  Remember Yahoo and AOL? They were once “the place” to be. Called Portals, they were our entry to the Internet, and also to conversations via old-fashioned forums. Yahoo and AOL were displaced by Google. It offered us a different entry to the internet, via “key” words that unlocked access to websites through search.

Facebook then entered with a focus on relationships and conversations, the news of what is happening now with the people we care about. Facebook wants to be “the place” now. The result of this battle is that throughout the day, we switch between different places (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) checking in to see what’s going on. We’re constantly going from one place to another, and clicking links to go to smaller sites, which are also battling to be “the place,” at least in their own little niches.

Sounds tiring, doesn’t it? Isn’t there a better way? I predict there will be, and for indications of the new metaphor, you have only to look at your phone.

I have a Razor running Android.  My phone buzzes when someone tweets to me or posts on my Facebook page, or when I get a text. If I feel like checking in, I can pull the top bar down at any time to see if new emails or tweets have come in. The Facebook and Twitter apps on my phone are more integrated into the device, making access easier. On my phone, I think less about going somewhere (Twitter or Facebook) to see what’s happening. Instead, what’s happening comes to me.

That’s the kind of technology we’ll see that will bring Facebook down. It’s why Google and others are investing in research on how to smartly predict what information and conversation you’ll want–so they can serve it up without you having to ask for it. The technologies being developed will bring content and conversations to you, and lead seamlessly from one to another, without you having to think about the particular technology or network on which the conversation is happening.

If the conversations and content from my friends came to me, I’d never go to Facebook.

Which is exactly why Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on will fight such a technology. The battle we’re seeing between Twitter and Instagram is all part of the continuing fight to be “the place.” If people come to your site or use your app, you can display ads. That’s how these networks make money. If a technology bypasses the social network or app as a location, that revenue opportunity is lost.

So, the new disruptive technology will also bring a much-needed new ad model with it.

I have no doubt that we will see this disruptive technology within five years. It will be a new technology that offers a great user experience, brings content and conversations to users instead of making them go seek out the conversations, and provides content creators and smaller networks with a unique and more cost effective way to monetize. It will capture the smaller publishers and end-users first, and likely start on mobile devices before moving into the desktop. It will displace the Facebook website because it will fundamentally change the internet economy from a battle to be “the place” into a battle to be “the service.”

Neicole Crepeau is the Senior Marketing Manager at Vizit Corporation, and blogs at Coherent Social Media. She’s the creator of CurateXpress, a content curation tool. Connect with Neicole on Twitter at @neicolec 


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  • I completely agree and either these networks open up, which they do some extent, or risk becoming obsolete. It won’t be another singular platform, it will need to be open and allow for discussion across all networks.

    So the net might not be the decrease in popularity but the dilution of traffic and conversation. If that makes an sense !? As you say, it is already happening and your phone example perfectly represents the future.

  • This article is utterly worthless. Apart from being a rant about facebook, it doesn’t really have anything in it. It’s mostly facebook-bashing, without enough discussion of an alternative or whether such an alternative exists or in the works. Waste of my time reading this.

  • Easier said than done to build a network of people and content that is personalized. It’s almost utopian. As of now, I’m overwhelmed with unnecessary alerts coming from all kinds of apps so I turn them off. Information and notices come to me, but I’m not sure I want them to come to me all the time. That being said, I do think that there are cycles and Facebook will some day lose relevance. Facebook will be around for a long time though, just as Google and Microsoft will.

  • If the main contender to Facebook is content finding me, then doesn’t Facebook already serve that purpose through push notifications on your mobile? Conversation, updates, etc, from your ‘favourites’ are all pushed …. so perhaps Facebook will see a decline, but I’m not sure where the argument is here.

    I think Google+ will become a big contender, but it will take time and some excellent partnerships.

    My guess is there will be a correlation between Facebook’s and the iPhones decline, while G+ sees an inverted trend as Google streamlines the features of G+ with your phone and lifestyle more and more.

    This could, though, all be completely blown out the water if Facebook launch a phone or a mobile OS…

  • Ralph Wiggum

    My cat’s breath smells like cat food.

  • I think you’re right on target re: G+ and mobile–in fact, I have another post covering exactly that scenario. Yes, FB does push notifications, but users will be more receptive to an all-in-one service. Do I care whether the update is coming from Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, or a text? Nope. I just want to communicate.

  • I have another post that outlines the specifics of the technology that you might appreciate more. Sorry you didn’t like this one.

  • Thanks!

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  • Why are you apologizing for producing an opinion piece?

    The moron who thinks it was worthless could have easily realized it wasn’t for him half way through and moved on, but took the time to scroll down further and place a comment, expressing a worthless opinion of his own.

    Either way, I do think Facebook will decline in popularity, but definitely not in the next 5 years. It’ll take closer to a decade because while they ignore user feedback, they do innovate extremely quickly. And putting a halt to a big FAST moving train is pretty fucking difficult.

  • No way!

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  • Twitter could be that disruption, and that’s why they’re fighting third party apps. With an app, you have a constant feed of people you’re interested in pushing curated content you want to see: the conversations, location check-ins, photos, blog posts, news articles, interesting web pages, all of their instagram pics pushed via rss or cross-posting. It doesn’t matter where that content is held – it’s all there in your feed.

    Twitter know this, do not really get their service, and want to be a destination not an aggregation tool. Which is why they’re slowly destroying their own market and service.

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  • Essentially the article talks about the importance of value creation.
    The DNA of consistent value creation is made up of strategies that are simple yet focussed with the customer/user at the centre of it. Invariably companies that go on to create sustained value in the long run are those whose business is based on building trust through efforts which look beyond just creating shareholders or in this case gathering user data to ”grow”. Growth itself is a misunderstood term in the business world, if growth does not mean improvement, it likely to be of little use.

    Research suggests that high accountability and consistent improvement (not just tweaking things here and there) and execution excellence are essential if you want to stay ahead of the pack. In addition, it’s no coincidence that humble, value-driven leaders generally manage to achieve bigger things.

    It’s anyone’s guess how Facebook measures up to these ideas?

    That said, the article doesn’t (at least to me) explain exactly what Facebook has been guilty of? Or how is it different, for that matter, from Google who also use your data to fuel itself. We’ve all heard heard unhappy accounts from many who think Google going though your emails to send you targeted ads can’t be termed as ethical behaviour. So what makes Facebook the sole guilty party here?

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  • Michael Connell

    Neicole That was well said. Facebook is a debilitating social media site. I can’t believe how much time I waste surfing through it. It’s almost like an addiction. I will be glad to get out of it.

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