Digitally Down

What’s Next After The Facebook Properties Struggles?

Facebook obviously went down this week, it was fun for most (especially if you saw all the tweets), distressing for some and maybe reflective for a tiny amount of people. 

Facebook and their properties going down for 6 hours shone a light on how much our real lives are intertwined with our digital lives.

Facebook’s properties are part of many people’s identity and are the place(s) where people hang out, talk to, spy on and work on and with.

Twitter was a brilliant place to check in on the creative meme’s and jokes many created, and interesting marketing tactics by big brands to be part of the #facebookdown trend.

Ironically here is one of the best summaries on Instagram:

A quick look through my feeds Tuesday morning and it is telling how many people rushed to post their food, their views, their run or just their round of opinions on stories. 

Although many say they don’t use Facebook, there was more fomo than jomo yesterday and that is telling!

Unrivalled Power

Facebook is so powerful it created a traffic jam across the internet, with 30x traffic queries for Facebook properties on Cloudflare.

This is impressive and scary all at the same time.

Cloudflare data is telling how powerful Facebook really is online

Usage Power

With over 2.9b (40-45%) of the world’s population on and using Facebook monthly, this highlights how powerful Facebook is.

Recent presentation with usage numbers of the largest social networks
The chat-ification of social and joining up gaming should shock companies however in a world so dominated by Facebook this is likely going to be ignored before it’s too late and their channels are too embedded (full deck link)

All Seeing Eye(s) & Data = Currency

Currency 1: Something many forget is the open access Facebook has to log ins, visit data and reaction data.

Currency 2: There is then the access Facebook has to insights on your phone with WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook and Instagram installed.

(FWIW check out appannie data on how popular Facebook has been even until last year from app installs)

Maybe Apple’s long serving battle with Facebook and the recent iOS 15 release shows how privacy needs to be taken more seriously.

Short Term Issue – Long Term Problems

I have broken down the short to long term view on this episode of Facebook drama below, including:

  • how we will likely react
  • how we should be careful with the next generation of people
  • how the next generation of more immersive technology should scare us into responsible action.

Short Term View:

iMessage, Signal, Telegram, LinkedIn and Twitter usage all spiked but will this mean people move towards non owned Facebook properties, a tiny amount. We will likely see 95% of usage return to their properties, but will this help people to rethink their reliance?

Should You Stay Or Should You Go? As OnlyFans experienced recently, OF lost creators and ‘fans’ as soon as they suggested change was coming and had to revert their statement. A new platform sprung up and almost painlessly migrated the top creators from OnlyFans.

Creator Scale Issue Or Opportunity? This is harder at Instagram scale, but their deliberate push into serving creators is a true indication that is a 10% creator economy providing 90% of the value and the fear of losing these creators will be an internal concern for this years AOP (annual operating plan) and the next LRP (long range planning sessions).

If one of your core products drives users to have a friends only account, a meme account and an open account, aren’t you serving more problems than fixing for users?

Facebook know they are battling to keep users and keep their relevancy that ensures their dominance. Stock prices are always moving around, the next two quarters will be the true sign of trust and belief.

For a company that was growth at all costs, we might just see retention at all costs take over at Facebook.

One small issue is an opportunity for other platforms or a new platform. With all of the Facebook PR and security issues, this is the time to attack for many new companies.

An Incoming Trend: I can tell you most savvy Marketers will be ramping up their marketing and advertising spend for a couple of weeks to catch up and have a fear that Q4 didn’t start as well as it might have.
One day/afternoon traffic from Facebook will impact many and many fear they won’t be able to pull back that lost day of funnel building.

But: Do consider who ultimately wins when these things happen, high intent-based ad giants.

Mid Term View:

A movement to better apps – As I said last week in my Must Reads newsletter, TikTok is on an absolute tear, there are many discord servers being created every day for niche conversations and there are numerous better chat apps than WhatsApp available and better wider-reaching platforms than Instagram.

The challenge: Will your investment in Facebook properties and the cost of moving your audience be worth short term pain?
Will you move audiences or groups from one to another, likely not quickly but we will see this have ripples and that will scare the Facebook board, maybe not their investors for a few months.  

Long Term View

Facebook’s original push into knowing and serving the true “real you” has served them particularly well for the last decade. Facebook knowing the real you and all of your actions paired with no real consequences for you as a user to act out and mass share misleading information (deliberately or not) has enabled Facebook to become the go to advertising platform for the smallest to large brands in the world.

Facebook is a societal problem, some of its platforms are not as bad as others but the impact Facebook has had is a prime example for the next-gen of companies creating large formations of people, that your platform has to reduce en-ragement is engagement as a success metric and time spent based networks leveraging dopamine hits will have to engineered more cleverly.

When you’re a media company combined with an ads company with so much historically data, you are going to be relevant for years to come. Facebook could essentially stop product development and deliberately remove resource from the Big Blue app and it will still stay alive for years to come.

This situation should worry users – the real worry, usage may drop but ad revenue and ad spend will be continuely pumped into Facebook as targeting can be unrivalled.

Meta-Book: I fear that Facebook is further ahead in their metaverse than they let on and that should be a warning shot for many of us.

Responsible Metaverse(s): I worry about how so many people will rely on an always-on metaverse that essentially you will live and work on.

If an important component was to go down for as long as Facebook did and you are so invested in your meta-life being digital, you will have a period where you are locked out of ‘living’ and this might be something so many people rely on that it could (maybe should) cause long term concerns for. I would have to push for education and safety measures to be added into such meta-worlds.

Facebook’s Control & Now It’s Time For Your Action

In a world where so many of us have invested over a decade in many of the biggest apps (owned by Facebook + a handful of others) we have given the apps access to our personal preferences, access to supplying our entertainment, an ability to play with our dopamine rushes, direct hierarchy to our closed friends and colleagues and importantly our finances (via purchases) – moving ourselves away from the addiction and reliance, it will take years to undo and remove, it is now time for many people to decide is the Facebook train one you are on fully or one you will leave at the next station.

Will Facebook become the Yahoo of the 2020’s? Will Facebook become the next big SaaS company being the operating system for work through their metaverse, we will see!

With all this said, question this:

Will you want to be in a world where one company has so much insight and dominance on your phone you would question really what to do if it went down for more than half your waking day?!

Want to know more about what happened:

Here’s a great explainer thread of what happened:

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