Ever wondered why Facebook is so popular? For good or worse, that’s where you find and connect with family and friends. On Twitter, you’re mostly a gadfly. You speak, and the world listens. That’s if you matter. Else, you’re just another egg. On Facebook, chances are you'd find your mom, grandparents, or teachers, besides relatives and long-lost friends.
In its defence, Facebook is the largest social network on the planet. Any successful feature in Facebook is bound to become the trend the consumer and marketing world follows. If it were a nation, it’d be among the largest out there. That clears the air. What Facebook does also determines how social media networks across the globe would alter their strategy. When it plans activities such as internet.org or Free Basics, it is vociferously debated as well.
It is this ease with which millions spanning generations have been able to connect that has made Facebook so popular. Earlier there was Orkut and MySpace, which gave people the ability to connect with others. Soon there was a plethora of social networking websites. But the advent of Facebook changed the way we connect with others, forever. Credibility and security is what drew millions to Facebook. What began as an exclusive service available to the Ivy League, was rolled out to other universities. Only alumni of prominent universities could invite friends to sign up for Facebook.
That brings us to Facebook's latest decision to alter the Newsfeed algorithm to prefer family and friends' updates. Life does come full circle. In a post by Adam Mosseri, VP, Product Management, Facebook announced that it was switching back to family and friends. That certainly feels like a moment of enlightenment. First, a social network that brought family and friends together was working towards earning some revenue from brands and their pages.
The idea was simple. Restrict the reach brands have on Facebook. Get them to spend more. Hopefully there would be better audiences that brands would engage with. What follows, however, is a fall in user engagement. If there’s anything that stands out from the trend is that engagement and earnings are inversely proportional to each other.
Quality user engagement is the direct goal of any social network, and that includes Facebook. Generating user revenue could be the result, but never the primary goal. If revenue gets precedence then engagement is bound to be hit. Among the other popular networks, LinkedIn just saw itself getting acquired by Microsoft, while Twitter continues to struggle. Certainly, there's quite a bit the industry could learn from the latest move by Facebook.