2 Serious Business Lessons From Facebook

James Preston 4 6:05 AM
Which is your favourite Social Network? I have a hunch that the majority would not say Facebook. Let's find out...

Take a second to take the Poll below and let's see. (I will edit this later to confirm/deny the hunch).
12pm Update: Ok, so it looks like my hunch was wrong based on the voting results below! But I still believe we can learn a lot from the discussion... Enjoy the article and please vote! :)

Social Networks have carved out some interesting space in the last 2 years. It is an always-adjusting game. One only has to look at MySpace. 5 years ago they would've competed for top of this list. Now they aren't even on the list.

The reason I'm sharing this is to point something out... Constant innovation is an absolute necessity in the technology game. And this is hyper-emphasised in the Social Networks industry.

My wife Corinne and I were discussing this last night. She has found a new favourite "escape space"... And it's not Facebook. It's Pinterest.

For the last year or so Corinne has often been found saying "Facebook has become so boring". I disagreed with her primarily because A) I follow more interesting friends (and "hide" the uninteresting ones) and B) To me: Facebook is more about expressing myself than reading other's expressions. (This all depends on the individual.)

Twitter is my space for reading other people's expressions. I get to choose who and what I want to see.

But the lesson is this: Facebook fast became the world's largest Social Network in a massive 3 year bubble. Such growth demanded all kinds of strategy to keep it going:
- Huge staff contingent
- Employing highly skilled programmers
- A public listing on the Stock Exchange

But there's a problem...

My wife sat down with her iPad after a long day to zone out, and didn't go near Facebook. She went straight to Pinterest.

And suddenly it hit me: People want to read what they want. Not what they get told.

I've always known this, hence my love for Twitter. But suddenly when I saw Corinne open Pinterest, and all her lovely pins that so intrique her, I realised that's what people want. And Facebook just can't offer that.

This led to me a further question: Can Facebook sustain its size in light of the way Social Media is going?

If my hunch regarding your favourite Social Network is right, then the majority of you would prefer one of Facebook's competitors. This is a major problem if you are Facebook. Why? Because you are the second largest internet company (behind Google) on the planet, but your fanbase is growing tired of you.

The lesson in all this? Is primarily for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. But anyone can take it.

The lessons is: DIVERSIFICATION and INNOVATION are absolutely paramount in big business.

Diversification because Facebook needs to branch out of Social Media into other online opportunities in order to sustain the size of business operation they are running. Because if Facebook as a Social Network crashes, what will they be left with? A lot of empty space and jobless individuals.

Innovation because Facebook needs to constantly be thinking of new ways to engage a restless audience. But it has to do that without sacrificing too much (and too quickly) of what makes it Facebook.

Facebook have diversified well by buying Instagram. That was a genius move. That will see them through for a few more years.

But where they seem to be lacking right now is innovation.

Millions of people prefer other Social Networks that give them what they want to see and read. Facebook doesn't seem to be innovating fast enough to meet this need.

This is the lesson for any business owner:

If you own a business that is centred around one specific industry, be sure to look for opportunities to diversify. Use capital to invest in a successful company in a completely different industry. This will secure your future should your industry collapse. (Think of the textile industry in South Africa.)

Constantly be thinking of ways to innovate. If you or your team aren't great innovators, invest in a high-quality, reputable and successful Business Coach who can help you find creative ways of doing things differently in your company.

  • How can you stay ahead of your game? 
  • What is required to stay ahead of the game? 
  • If your industry suddenly collapsed, would your company be able to stay alive because you have things customers still want?

I am not predicting the downfall of Facebook. By no means. But I am seeing a trend that I am sure Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of his team can see, and are addressing. If they aren't addressing this trend, then there is no doubt that they will face trouble in the future.

Use Corinne's love for Pinterest as a lesson for your business. Diversify your investment. And innovate your company.

Do me a favour and be sure to drop a comment in the comments section!


What about you? 

In what ways do you think Facebook could innovate?

What about your favourite Social Networks? What is it about your favourite Social Network that makes it your favourite?


Hey James, great blog man. Just want to share some thoughts. Firstly I think Myspace really can't be used as the measuring standard for social networking sites and their possible life span. Myspace failed because they didn't meet a fundamental need in their members which I believe facebook, instagram, pinterest have got right, and that's sharing.

Myspace was more about creating your own little island in the interweb and hoping people will visit. And stalking, lots of stalking!

People love to share thoughts, ideas, music etc and these new platforms allow for that perfectly.

I think facebook is only going to continue to grow, perhaps in even very unexpected ways, maybe they will set up a digital currency like bitcoin or even go into hardware like amazon. They could even land up buying out all the other sites!

But my point is they will continue to grow and I can't see anyone taking them off that top spot for years and years to come. The other social networks will only be able to add by specializing even more in what they can offer, and people are quite happy to have multiple profiles for these purposes ie instagram for photos and pinterest for hobbies.

I wouldn't be suprised if one of facebooks goals would include to become an employer to alot of its users and eventually become the largest corporation on earth. Yip bigger than Coca cola. Peace out, Robby

Robby! Wow! What a comment packed with so much insight! Thank you so much for sharing. You're right, I think you're onto something there.
There's no doubt I got my hunch wrong on where the votes would go!
But really bro, I think there's some serious prophetic insight into what you're saying here, and if you're right, buying Facebook Stock may not be a bad idea!
And how about Twitter's stock!? Grew by what? 25% in ONE day?? IMAGINE you invested in that at 9am yesterday morning! Insane.
Thanks for the comment bro.

James. Interesting topic. My wife loves Pinterest, for me it's Twitter, and we both hate Facebook. My use of Facebook is limited to looking at other people's/companies' pages where this is their preferred method of sharing information, but I don't post myself. I was disgusted recently when smut advertisements showed in the margin of Facebook and I had to opt out of getting such advertisements. Now Facebook rates even lower in my eyes. But the numbers do the talking and we can't dispute Facebook has been a success, but it's a highly risky business. My take is that in ten year's time the top or fastest growing social network will not be any of those on the voting list.

Hey Conrad. Yeah, it is indeed intriguing. You sound like us, I love Twitter and Corinne loves Pinterest. I can't say I hate Facebook, and I haven't had any smut ads pop yet. But that's not a good sign. The next 10 years are going to be extremely interesting in the online landscape! TIme Magazine were even suggesting the internet may need to "borderised"/"balkanised" to put more security on it, that would change things up big time as well. Very interestin. Thanks for the comment, Conrad!

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