Last Thursday, Facebook announced it would be partnering with Twitter to weave the platform into their new iPhone5. With unmatched growth in the last year, Twitter has become an enticing social media platform for Apple. You can read the article here by Kit Eaton via Fastcompany describing the Apple-Twitter union, and how it will affect Facebook, who has seemingly been left behind by iOS5.
“Did Zuckerberg’s spine just shiver?” - indeed it may have. The reality is we are now more than 1.5 years into my 5 year countdown for the demise of Facebook as a platform. Google+, privacy debacles, time lines and now this. It can only mean bad things when your friends trade you in for another BFF.
You may ask, Blu, why are you so mean to Facebook? What did Facebook ever do to you that you hate it so much you felt it necessary to make a crazy prediction in 2009 stating Facebook would be finished in 5 years?
Well, the reason is simple. By then it was already clear to me that they had converted from being a platform that satisfied the need to connect and share as a community into a product that manufactures consumer needs and entrenches “users” in an emotional and financial prison.
Once you forget that you are a community’s servant, you have lost the battle to create that wonderful something they don’t WANT to live without - because you filled a hole in their heart with what you created, not just a need. Platforms like Facebook no longer have a place in today’s market where fans (a much better term than “user” or “consumer”) are in control of the brand narrative - and should be.
By creating a false need, such platforms break their bond with the communities they serve, and we all get that uneasy feeling we are being used. Companies make profits and that’s fine, but they should do it by building stuff we love - it should be a win-win. So what’s next?
As I have been evangelizing for years it’s niche, niche, niche. Google+ circles you say? Think smaller.
We are dealing with increasingly concentrated and targeted communities of fans, and that means inevitably dealing with highly niched interests. Platforms and products that respond to, and curate for, niche communities will pave an entirely different landscape from the bland, homogenized sea of random interests represented by the Facebooks of the world. And by doing so they may be striking gold. Why?
Although big corporates don’t like the concept of niche, it in fact may prove to be exactly what advertisers are looking for. While companies avoid niche in favor of the valhalla of mass appeal, advertisers are looking to make conversions; when you watch a commercial, see a billboard, or a tweet about that thing you might love, they are hoping to convert that interaction into a purchase. Shotgun blasts are a waste of time and money, and can cause negative results. What advertisers search for is a highly concentrated and targeted segment. And that’s where niche comes in.
Sound spooky? Only if you can’t opt-in, and it isn’t completely transparent. Companies have been educated by advertisers over a long period of time to hide the truth from you, not trusting you will be able to make privacy choices that don’t opt you out of their products. When they learn to sell us something we love, they won’t need to worry about that. Honesty is the best policy because really, who doesn’t want to know more about that thing that they love and how to get it?
Niche is a win-win. Sell us the things we love and truly search for and we will gladly let you know what we like and how we want it - no opt-outs, we promise. But keep selling us a line, an aspiration that can never be had, and broken promises and we will be giant killers.