Is Facebook a fad? 46% of Americans say yes

By May 16, 2012Social Media

According to a recent poll conducted by the Associated Press and CNBC, 46% of Americans believe that Facebook is a fad. In contrast, only 43% of respondents believe the platform will endure. The study included 1,000 Americans ages 18 and over, with a margin of error of 3.9%.

Although the number is much higher than I’d expect, we must remember that public opinion holds very little influence in whether or not Facebook remains successful – I mean, just look at Rebecca Black. Who would have thought that she’d be a household name. Still, the poll raises a legitimate question: Does Facebook have what it takes to survive the long hull, or will another social network overthrow the king?

Point 1 – Myspace

It wasn’t that long ago that most people met there social media needs through Myspace (though most people will vehemently deny it). From 2005 until 2008, Myspace was the most visited social network worldwide, and in June 2006, was the most visited website in the world. However, after Facebook opened access, many myspace users flocked to the new social network. In April of 2008, Facebook dethrone Myspace as the most visited social media site and has held position ever since.

Many naysayers believe that Facebook is simply today’s Myspace. Facebook certainly isn’t perfect. Its very possible that the majority of its users could abandon ship in favor of a better social network.

Counter Point – Google Plus

While I don’t think another social network replacing Facebook is impossible, I do think it’s unlikely. Just look at Google Plus.; Google+ is arguably better than Facebook, especially for gmail users. And while it had an overwhelming immediate response, it has failed to have the staying power of Facebook.

Google Plus has many nice features missing on Facebook; so why didn’t people flock to it? Analysts could probably argue over this for days, but from my perspective, it lacks two key features: (1) a large, well-established community, and (2) a stable position in culture and social interaction. Google Plus had nice features, but they weren’t compelling enough to encourage people to transfer all of their social connections. And, because people weren’t sure what new social or cultural gap it filled, they were unsure how to use it. As such, it was unable to grow organically.

Google is the internet giant, and yet, it was unable to build a social network that topped Facebook. If Google couldn’t do it, how is another social network supposed to overthrow Facebook?

Point 2 – Privacy concerns

These days it seems like everyone and their mom is on Facebook. And yet there are still a lone few who have not ventured into the world of Facebook. They each have their own reasons, but a common factor is privacy concerns. Its no surprise that many people do not trust Facebook to keep their information private as the social network’s history with privacy-related issues is shady at best.

Its well known that Facebook makes its money from advertising. In order to continue to generate funds via ads, marketers must see a return. One way Facebook has increase the ROI of Facebook ads is by allowing marketers to target specific groups. Facebook is able to offer this feature because users have volunteered their information. In essence, the more information you give to Facebook, the more valuable you are to them.

The combination of Facebook’s shady history with privacy concerns and its desire to gain access to increased levels of private information has caused many to believe that it is only a matter of time before the general public gives up the convenience of the social network in favor of personal privacy.

Counterpoint – addiction

Though some have taken heed to these privacy warnings, the majority of Facebook users have bargained their personal information to keep the convenience. What causes people to stay loyal to Facebook knowing that privacy is a real concern? My best guess – addiction.

Social media addiction is real, and Facebook seems to be the biggest culprit.  A recent study from researchers at Harvard revealed that talking about ourselves triggers the same pleasure we get from food, money and sex. Because Facebook so conveniently provides that trigger, we continually come back for more. People make poor decisions to feed addictions, and its no surprise that people would compromise their privacy to feed their Facebook addiction.

Facebook is so strongly integrated into our culture and social norms. It seems incredibly unlikely that it will fizzle out quickly like a fad.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and eventually, Facebook will fade. What do you think will bring the end of Facebook? Let us know in the comments. As for my prediction: zombie apocalypse.

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