What’s next for Facebook?

Benji Hall

Much has been made of the challenges facing Facebook in the next 12 months. Here Benji Hall gives his view on the path we can expect to see the social media giant go down.

In recent weeks, months and years, we’ve all become used to hearing predictions on the demise of Facebook. Most of us in the marketing world realise the death of the social network is still a long way off.

However, it is true Facebook faces some big challenges, which are forcing the company to look down new, and potentially lucrative, avenues.Research shows less young people – those in their teens and early twenties – are logging on. The social network has struggled to compete with challenger apps like Kik and Snapchat, which are attracting a younger audience by giving people more control over their content. This is something that Facebook has struggled to do, particularly as it tries to balance monetisation of the site to advertisers with its offering to its users.

Facebook logoAs a result, I expect post-education young professionals – 22- to 35-year-olds – to follow the lead of the younger generation and increasingly embrace the benefits of greater control by moving away and spending time on other networks that put them in the driving seat. These include anonymous networks, such as mobile app Secret, as people experiment with different forms of social sharing.

Facebook isn’t dying. It’s just changing

Some of its recent acquisitions point to where Facebook may be headed. Not only has it made forays into money transfers, but it has also either acquired or developed its own expertise in healthcare, the office, fitness, virtual and augmented reality and speech recognition.

This all points to the fact Facebook is looking to become an aggregator of content from multiple different apps and networks. The mass market breakthrough of wearables like the Apple Watch in 2015 and the growth of apps that run everything from our diets to our training programmes is generating vast amounts of data that brands can use to create highly targeted services.

If Facebook can position itself at the centre, aggregating all of this social content, it would carve out a powerful new role for itself as a services ecosystem that joins the dots of our increasingly digitised world.

So, as Facebook looks to expand its horizons in 2015, what will be its next big acquisition? One thing that wouldn’t surprise me is if it tries to buy Tinder. Why wouldn’t it?Facebook needs the youth market, and this is one of the most sure-fire ways to get it. Integrated status changes and Tinder could bring another realm to dating, particularly as the social aggregation features of Facebook would give you a much broader glimpse into someone’s life to help find a match.

Would Facebook buy Tinder?

Would Facebook buy Tinder?

The social game

Whilst every year sees multiple new acquisitions by Facebook, we can still expect it to be in the social game for some time to come.

Iinstagram logon fact, you can’t argue that Facebook has not made efforts to keep up with what’s happening in the social media marketplace. For example, they have made two clever moves in purchasing WhatsApp and Instagram. WhatsApp’s growth curve means it is set to outstrip Facebook in daily active users and, in the video battle, Instagram Hyperlapse will trump Vine and take a big chunk out of YouTube.

I expect more brands to successfully engage with consumers via Instagram in 2015 using both images and short form video. There are also rumours Facebook is developing an app that will allow its users anonymity. This could help bring back the younger demographic, so watch this space.

Clearly, there’s plenty of life left in Facebook, but in the long term, it will likely lose the younger demographic and with it a “social” focus. My bet is social experiences and tools will continue to splinter this year. Facebook will counter this by being an aggressive acquirer of new networks and apps, whilst constantly looking to position itself at the centre of our connected world.

  • Benji Hall is director of APAC at global marketing engagement platform EngageSciences

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