Facebook is a company. It’s not Mark Zuckerberg. It’s not an app you use on your phone. It’s a collection of services that is growing rapidly and it may be poised to grow at even crazier rates than it has now, if you believe what is in this piece, Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s Bold Plan For The Future Of Facebook. Key point it raises:
The Facebook of today—and tomorrow—is far more expansive than it was just a few years ago. It’s easy to forget that when the company filed to go public on February 1, 2012, it was just a single website and an app that the experts weren’t sure could ever be profitable. Now, “a billion and a half people use the main, core Facebook service, and that’s growing. But 900 million people use WhatsApp, and that’s an important part of the whole ecosystem now,” Zuckerberg says. “Four hundred million people use Instagram, 700 million people use Messenger, and 700 million people use Groups. Increasingly, we’re just going to go more and more in this direction.”
Reading this, you get the sense of a company that is going to bigger in a few years than it is now, which seems incredible to me. Note this article: it will be worth revisiting in a few years.
That said, there are a few points I’d like to add:
- I actually think that Facebook the app/website is declining in active usage. It is very clever showing you things people like, even if people you know aren’t posting things. You get a sense of activity on Facebook the app/website whenever you log in. You never get the sense that it is not being used by people, even if many of the people you follow aren’t actively contributing at all. I suspect if you dropped your Facebook friends down to next to none it would still show you the same amount of information. If Facebook the company is going to remain successful, it needs to diversify from it’s main service.
- It is interesting that people continue to compare Twitter to Facebook. To me, there is little to compare. Facebook seems to have a better growth plan and even have a better app. If Facebook the service declines, the diversification into places like WhatsApp and Instagram is strong in a way that is unlikely to be matched by services like Vine or Periscope. While there is some commonality between the two companies, I think the story of their divergence will become a bigger one over time. Contributing to that big difference is Facebook remains a stable company with a stable leadership while Twitter’s leadership remains chaotic and unstable.
- The narrative in that story is very optimistic. If the numbers for any of those organizations start to slip, I could see the narrative changing, just like it has for so many IT companies. Right now the narrative is: Facebook is a very successful company and it is going to become more successful with all these promising ideas. The narrative can easily become: Facebook is a very troubled company and it is going to become more troubled with all these ideas doomed to fail. (See Yahoo! for an example of such a narrative.)