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Op-Ed: Facebook ‘dying’ yet again? Not really. It’s how you read the realities

Maybe someday people will actually study the realities of social media. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Image: — © AFP Anatolii Stepanov
Image: — © AFP Anatolii Stepanov

If you take any interest in social media, and it’s hard to do so, you’ll remember at least a few instances of Facebook “dying” over the years. The latest revelations from the empty spaces are pretty similar.

The link is to a search for Facebook. It’s looked like that for decades. Call it a hint.  

Again, it’s all about age. It’s all about cool. It’s all about how email will be replaced by… whatever inevitably didn’t replace it. It’s the same non-news recycled by people who should know better.

AP did slightly better this time despite banging the age drum by pointing out that Facebook is “utilitarian”. Some guy bought his furniture on Marketplace. That’s a pretty apt analogy. Facebook is now part of the furniture. People need furniture.

The market, as usual, is reading the tea leaves upside down:

  • Social media users are the last people to get hysterical about using social media. A lot of people grew up with Facebook. That’s the main reason they use it.
  • Nobody needs the nutcases on social media. The various platforms have misread that, badly and destructively, for years. The disincentives to use social media are being pandered to by people who simply don’t listen.
  • Most Facebook users simply hang with their friends. They don’t want, or need, to do anything else. That’s critical, and apparently completely ignored.
  • Dissatisfaction with Facebook is based more on the subjects of algorithms that don’t get colloquial expressions in context and arbitrary rulings. The dissatisfaction isn’t based on the platform itself, just incidents.
  • Anyone can misread user stats, and many critics are paid to do just that. User stats do not necessarily translate into more or less dollars. They translate into potential dollars. There’s a reason for that.
  • This is the reason. Social media marketing and advertising are incredibly primitive. There are no “special deals for Facebook users”, for example. That’s really inexcusable, and it’s one of the reasons to despise online advertising; no vision at all.
  • Two billion active users are effectively being ignored by this ultra-mediocre marketing. Do you think not ignoring them would alter Facebook user metrics? Gosh.
  • Facebook is NOT mainstream media; it’s a multi-level platform catering to a much wider range of people. Therefore, apparently, analysis duly goes off the rails with superficial pinata strikes about individual metrics.
  • Old, schmold. Tik Tok will be old soon enough. Kids are supposed to dislike anything older people like. It’s a very superficial perspective.

Facebook is trying to evolve. It’s getting blasted by the market for trying, and blasted for not being something it’s not.

I wrote an article years ago for US Motley Fool. When Facebook became a public company, I questioned whether the stock market pundits and analysts would even understand Facebook’s core business.

They didn’t.

They still don’t.

They don’t understand the back end any more than the front end. They don’t get that Facebook moderators are getting PTSD from managing the garbage people try to post. They don’t get the endless security issues.

More importantly – They don’t get that social media is the ultimate discretionary market. They don’t get that users want their social media spaces their way. Facebook is a lot of useful links in one place. Is that so impossible to understand?

…So Facebook isn’t “dying again”. This is business as usual, and the trends, including age and market potential, haven’t budged. Call it another hint.

Maybe someday people will actually study the realities of social media. I’ll believe it when I see it.

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Disclaimer
The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

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Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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