Don’t f8 it up Facebook
The social media world is watching & waiting for Facebook’s big announcement at f8 today & it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will involve an announcement that Facebook is moving into the music and content space possibly competing with iTunes and maybe more deals with news content providers. A WSJ journal app announced today is widely touted as the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve been worried about Facebook for a while and these developments are now turning that worry into panic.
I’m a huge and unashamed fan of Facebook and have been since the early days. I’m on record on the BBC Money Programme in 2007 as saying “Facebook will be as big and important as Google” and I have been pleased to be proved right over the last four years.
But Facebook’s foray into new features over the last year or so have smacked to me of desperation and of a network that’s losing its way. Not to mention a network that has far too much money and is indulging each and every whim and idea and trying to compete on too many fronts. And I’m not alone, my Twitter feed of late has been crammed with comments comparing all Facebook’s changes to the ever-changing MySpace, and that’s never a good thing.
I’ve been damning of Google trying to move into the social space with Google+ (and in the last few weeks I’m pretty sure that it is now stagnating as I thought it would..) and I’m now damning of Facebook trying to move into the music space. There are plenty of other businesses doing it well & I can’t see what Facebook can add by integrating this into its platform apart from being a ‘me too’ in the music world (rather like the launch of Google+ by Google in fact).
Facebook Places is a previous early-warning sign. In an attempt to capitalise on the huge trend in LBS services Facebook launched its own check-in tool. But it’s never taken off and after the mobile version was killed its current status is a bit undefined. It’s certainly not ever been a Foursquare or Gowalla ‘killer’ as Facebook must have hoped.
Instead now of moving into music and 3rd party content Facebook needs to go back to its heartland and what it does best and build on that, instead of scrabbling around for new markets. Facebook’s strengths have always been the ease with which connections with friends are made and the unrivalled platform it has created for *user-generated* (not 3rd party) content and sharing. Anyone in the social media space will tell you that ‘recommendations’ – how/why product/brand information is created by consumers and acted upon – is what we all want to crack for our clients. Facebook is sitting on the answer and it should spend its time, ingenuity and huge pot of money analysing the interconnectedness between all our social interactions on its platform and showing us all how we can make *those* work in a way that benefits both users and brand owners.
So I’ll be watching and waiting on Thursday and praying “just don’t f it up Facebook”..