With Facebook, changing its name to Meta was a major milestone. It was also a hint of things to come. The social media platform has been breaking lately, mainly due to a policy change at Apple where iPhone users can opt-out of tracking, which has absolutely destroyed Facebook’s ad revenue.
Users that can’t be tracked can’t be targeted with ads.
This is concerning if your name is Mark Zuckerberg. Another milestone happened just a couple of months ago when user growth finally stalled. That led to a big drop in the stock price and a lot of questions about what has caused all the craters lately. Have users finally figured it out? Did Apple burst the bubble? Now we all hate Facebook? When you have almost 2 billion active users, it’s hard to say the sky is falling, as all the Silicon Valley tech giants would love to boast that kind of dominance (Twitter only has about 229 million active users).
However, something is amiss. Facebook first launched in 2004 and has become part of our daily lives. I still chat with friends in bookstores and coffee shops and ask them which applications they use most often, and it’s almost always Facebook.
Many “everyday” users don’t even know why they keep scrolling and liking, they just do it. It’s part of their routine. Just like drinking Pepsi, buying a breakfast sandwich at Wendy’s, and watching the NBA playoffs, we don’t always know why we do things, but when it becomes a habit, the revenue spikes and then keeps increasing.
Think of any massive company and it’s likely that the secret to success is tied to when we do something (or use something) routinely.
My theory (and believe me, I always have one) is that Facebook has started to see changes in habits, and they would know. Not only do they provide analytics to advertisers on how often we look at posts and what we click on, but they also use this same data to determine if the app is successful. They eat their own analytics dog food.
When there’s a slight shift and they don’t see as much consistent scrolling and engagement drops an inch, they know it’s a problem.
Think of it this way. Let’s say Pepsi sees a big drop in sales for a quarter. Okay, that’s not good. When your sales are based on the routines of a massive population and they suddenly stop buying a case of sugar water after work, you have to react. In the past, Pepsi invented new flavors and created new ad campaigns. You could argue that the big companies of our era, from Apple onward, are great because they react efficiently and completely to market trends and whenever user interest starts to wane. (You could also argue that companies like Apple make great products and that’s the reason they stick around.)
With Meta, the data suggests some waning interest among users. We’ve come out of the cave and see sunlight falling on the reality of what social networks are doing to us. Some of us have realized that Facebook doesn’t really offer a good value proposition, and we know that revealing our interests and scrolling habits to a giant megacorporation so they can in turn sell that data to the highest bidder is not a great deal. arrangement. Again, Meta knows this.
That’s why I’m not exactly thrilled with the company’s new direction. A recent report nailed it on the head, suggesting that it’s all about “neglecting the real world” and looking at our phones even more than we do now.
Meta is a company that runs on algorithms. Think of algorithms as the engine that runs the addiction machine. All the apps constantly shift and change to suit our own tastes, which keeps us hooked. Guess what? The whole corporation is about to change too. The algorithm has told them it’s time to reinvent themselves, to create a metaverse that keeps us hooked (read: using their apps).
I want to believe it’s a desire to make compelling products. I want to believe it’s because the metaverse will be wonderful.
But I know better. The more we click, the more Meta attracts advertisers and ultimately that’s the goal. I’m sure the shareholders would agree.
Now we can figure out if it’s possible to make a great product and generate revenue at the same time, rather than just making a new kind of addiction machine.