The Demise of Facebook?

May 13th, 2008 | Categories: design, networks, social media, strategy, usability, web issues

In a short period of time, Facebook has established itself as one of the top social networks on the Internet. But this meteoric rise has hit a plateau. It’s hard to say why this has happened, but my guess is that Facebook applications are starting to have an adverse effect on the network.

A self-implosion is inevitable if Facebook doesn’t clean up its act. The company has irresponsibly let applications saturate profile pages and clutter the network. In October, I suggested a Facebook app management feature to deal with the problem.  I have yet to see progress in the area. This ignorance may ultimately lead to their demise.

Negativity aside, the company is bringing the pain upon itself. Back in August, I noted that the platform would provide short-term success and long-term failure. The former has already manifested itself. Whether the latter comes true has yet to be determined, although the current path looks ominous.

The effectiveness of Facebook apps as a marketing tool has also dropped. They are the laughing stock of the network. Some users enjoy the games and fun-filled activities, while others simply detest the platform altogether.

I really think that Facebook needs to re-focus and concentrate on features that made the network so popular in the first place — intuitive features and a clean, compelling experience. Think photo-tagging, the news feed, etc…

Facebook also has another huge problem I haven’t even touched on — the need for an effective revenue model.  The social network has built up a loyal following and garnered substantial market share. Now, it has the same problem as Twitter. It needs to tack on a revenue model. But is it too late?


  1. demetrius pinder Says:

    I’ve always thought that myspace was better. yes, I know facebook is superior in terms of features and functionality, but, there is just WAY too much crappy applications on Facebook.

    myspace allows you to design your profile and its not open to devs to flood it with applications that are pointless.

    same with twitter. twitter…well…i fail to see the need.

  2. Rian Says:

    Hmmm, I think blaming the aps is the easy thing to do. The application platform was released a year ago, and application spam has been a noticeable annoyance for almost as long. I think if the problem was the aps it would have had it’s effect 6 months ago. It doesn’t take people a year to get annoyed with a site and leave, it only takes about 2 minutes.

    My guess at an explanation would be that Facebook has set some standards and made social networking common place. Now people are educated enough to go check out the other guys, and the other guys know how to make it easy to switch.

  3. Becca Says:

    I am a Facebook user myself and I do agree that the applications are VERY annoying. I wish they could be abolished completely, and then the environment would be immediately better. However, despite the clutter that the applications create, they are still used by many, many users. And the annoyance has never been great enough as to drive me away from using the site. It is a very subconscious annoyance. I do not think people will rush from the site in droves… it has become much too integrated in society for that to happen. Relationships are only legitimate if they are “Facebook official.” When pictures are taken, I always hear someone say “Put them on Facebook so I can see them!” So you see, applications may be annoying. Growth might have hit a plateau. But Facebook is here to stay.

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  5. Infant Strollers Says:

    Great level of info here. There’s a lot data around about this subject that occasionally you cannot see the wood for that trees but you’ve pitched this at just the right level to ensure that the lay person can understand - thank you!

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