“Apple is ‘Evil’ and Facebook is ‘a Photo-sharing Site'”
— Fred Wilson, VC (investor in Twitter, Foursquare, Zynga).
It’s the ultimate form of respect when the competition vilifies and diminishes your accomplishments, so take respected VC and blogger Fred Wilson’s comments in that light. After all, he’s got investments in a number of companies that Facebook is a potential threat to.
But let’s face some facts. Love or hate Facebook, you don’t grow to 500 million users if you are not doing something incredibly right.
Moreover, you don’t engage those same users to the point that 50 percent of the active user base logs in daily unless you have found a way to turn the social equivalent of lead into gold.
Mind you, this is a service legions diss, dismiss and outright distrust. A service with customer satisfaction levels that rank below the airline industry.
It begs the question: Why isn’t this ship sinking, as opposed to being an unstoppable force that’s swallowing up the web one ‘Like’ and Facebook Connect sign-on at a time?
Understanding Facebook Mountain
My take on this is that Facebook’s success is a case of people generally not trusting Facebook, nor specifically wanting the company to push more and more of their “friends and family” content and conversations into the public bucket (as Facebook seems committed to getting them to do). Nonetheless people default to a simple truth. Namely, that no one else has matched Facebook’s ability to seamlessly connecting the dots between content, conversations and social contexts — wherever it promulgates.
Facebook, for all of its failings, is delivering the consummate 1 + 1 = 3 experience.
Think about it. Facebook Connect and the Like function is increasingly being hardwired into virtually every website. And because Facebook knows how to build a platform, they have facilitated better integration of the myriad popular services on the Internet within Facebook, such that your Facebook news feed is becoming a must-read, must-engage service.
No less, they are already mining the heck out of that data, such that you can already see how, despite Google being the one that taught us about contextual advertising, it’s Facebook that will be the one to actually execute in delivering ads that users will actually want to click on. Maybe not today, but very soon.
Case in point: Facebook knows that I “Like” the band Rush and am a fan of the HBO series “True Blood” because, over time, I have fed it that information via profile, status and news feed updates. Facebook isn’t shy about using that same information to recommend other shows, bands, fan pages and the like.
It’s the same reason that in asking “Is Facebook a Brand that You Can Trust?” and knowing the answer (i.e., not really), my usage — and that of the people I know — is only on the upswing.
Consider the various ways that Facebook has inculcated itself into my daily online workflow:
- Sending/receiving Facebook feeds via the TweetDeck social dashboard client.
- Creating a Facebook fan page for my company.
- Building multiple iOS apps that integrate with Facebook feeds.
- Playing several iPad games that post to my Facebook feeds.
- Micro-posting via Posterous that “auto posts” into Facebook.
- Uploading of photos from my BlackBerry to my Facebook wall.
And for all of these reasons, liking, commenting and conversational back-and-forth actions are becoming more frictionless by the day.
Moreover, it’s the same reason that when Facebook formally pursues the search engine play — and they will, because they have an unbounded opportunity there — Google, the king of all disruptors, will suddenly understand what it feels like to be on the disrupted side of the equation.
A final thought. It’s a topic that’s best saved for another post, but if Apple, the king of mobile, mobility and post-PC, and Facebook, the king of social, were ever to strategically align so as to orchestrate a frontal assault on Google’s loosely coupled approach … now, that would be a battle royal!