Today I asked some friends about their social network usage after noticing how many unknown people would add me on Facebook and LinkedIn without any message explaining if we knew each other or why I should add them.
This made me realize how different Facebook has become in just a few years time. If it’s now a better or worse experience is probably very subjective and a matter for time to resolve.
I remember when Facebook was this awesome online place where everybody knew each other. People would share whatever they were up to, ask for people to join them around town, announce big personal news, organize parties, advise on weather, spy on their crushes etc. It was like high school, but online. Just awesome.
I unfortunately don’t see any of that anymore. Today, I see more and more people opening up their Facebook profile and experiences to the world. You can notice how different their usage is compared to people that got on Facebook early on.
People now use facebook as a personal (and often unfortunately commercial) marketing tool. They will share stuff they don’t even read just because it makes them look smart. They won’t share anymore pictures of them or their families and share updates on their lives with people they care about.
Dave Morin saw this way before anyone and decided to start Path, which was an extremely interesting idea. The problem is that I still get TONS of random people asking for approval on it.
In my very humble opinion, Facebook is failing at its vision.
I’m not saying that it sucks. I still love it more than any other internet product, but I’m getting scared about its future. Being open and connected with the world, sharing what you want others to see and engaging with random people is clearly a desire of many, myself included, and that’s why Twitter and Tumblr, as well as blogs, have succeeded so spectacularly. Facebook nailed the “closed groups of friends” experience early on and is now drifting away from it, nailing the new experience even better, but.. is this what it wants to become?
If I were considering buying $FB stock, the only question I would ask myself is: How will people use Facebook in 5 years?
A flier in a very private road might convert wildly better than a Billboard on a freeway. Facebook was awesome enough to be able to control every private road in the world and is now transforming all of those in massive freeways. This is a huge challenge for them, and an enormous opportunity for new startups to eat Facebook’s lunch.