One of the key challenges that I outlined regarding the future of Facebook last November was that of increasingly inactive profiles. Why are inactive profiles particularly bad for Facebook?
- At the top-level inactive Facebook users call into question the value that has been put on the social network by investors
- Facebook at its heart is an advertising business that relies on consumers providing compelling content in the form of updates, curated content and pictures so there is less content to put advertisements against
- Visits by the audiences are likely to become less frequent and so the cycle continues in a slow downward spiral
- Facebook can’t kick off inactive profiles as this would affect active users friend numbers adversely which would result in a sizeable amount of cognitive dissonance
- Finally the cost of saving an inactive profile is small but in aggregate would adversely affect the margins of the Facebook business. Over time, it is likely adversely affect behavioural targeting of adverts
The changes that Facebook announced around timelines and news feeds look as if Facebook is already preparing for this; by trying to wring as much content as possible out of the existing news streams. Facebook’s frictionless sharing takes this a step further. It is about collating status posts from Facebook users who aren’t logged in with the content being sent via app developers over a Facebook API.
There are some issues I would like to understand better:
- Does Facebook’s data show a progressively less engaged audience in its mature markets like the US and the UK? And by implication, is this is about as good as Facebook is going to get?
- Has Facebook messaging not lived up to its initial promise to provide consumers with a reason to return and an excuse to update their status whilst they are at it?
- Finally how much of these changes are likely likely to benefit brand pages?
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