Yeah, we’ve heard the hype. Facebook and Google are at war. Facebook wants to have every user on the Internet on its site, and every link to point back to it, while Google wants, well, all the information in the world. Google+ was the opening salvo of that war, and now they’re fighting for users, like Tron, only not heroic.
And Facebook is going to get absolutely curbstomped. Just like the microsecond Facebook became available to anyone, MySpace was dead meat, the clock is ticking for Facebook. It could make changes that would make it competitive, but it can’t or, more importantly, won’t. Here are the five reasons Facebook is a dead site walking.
Everybody Hates Facebook
It’s kind of an open secret: Facebook does not rank well in user satisfaction surveys. In 2010, Facebook scored a 64 in satisfaction on the American Customer Satisfaction Index: that’s lower than tax websites. Yes, people who help you fill out forms to give your money over to the government do better than a site that’s supposedly fun.
And it’s been consistent too; Facebook just doesn’t do well with user satisfaction, yet it has a monopoly on social networks and everyone’s on it. XKCD’s painfully apt summary of the situation really says it all: people love Facebook the site, but hate the company with the fire of a thousand suns. This is because of the advertising, which this entire corporate e-penis match is all about.
As it’s been noted before, Facebook pretty blatantly scans your Wall feed for information and tries to target ads at you. This gets weird fast when, say, a happily married man discussing a friend’s recent breakup notices his Facebook ads are all for dating sites.
As Google+ grows, and people become aware they actually have an option that doesn’t involve Farmville updates, Facebook is going to struggle to keep people on its network. It would help to not constantly remind people they’re reading over everyone’s shoulder…but that’s what their entire business model is based around.
Google+ Is Integrated into Everyone’s Life Already, Facebook Isn’t
Let’s not exaggerate here: checking your Facebook is pretty easy. And Facebook has done a good job of integrating itself with other sites: Facebook Connect has made all of our lives that much easier, at least when it comes to remembering passwords. Of course, it also means Facebook can track everything that you do, especially if you automatically post every action on that site on your wall.
But checking your Google Plus is even easier, and worse for Facebook, it’s easier in a way Facebook can’t match. Just go to Google. As long as you’re logged in with Google Plus, absolutely everything will be in the upper right hand corner, waiting patiently for you. I do nothing with Google other than search, and I still check my Google Plus because honestly, it’s just so damn easy.
True, Google has tried to force this integration before, and it hasn’t gone well. But it’s learned from its mistakes.
That’s really the key thing: Facebook desperately needs you to log into their site, or to use Facebook Connect, and Google doesn’t. Google is trying to get more specific from a very broad function, search, and Facebook is trying to essentially make itself crucial in areas that people really don’t want it in. That’s because…
Facebook is AOL, All Over Again
People act like there was nothing like Facebook before on the Internet, but in the macro sense, there is. Stop and think for a moment: it’s a self-contained, watered down, online ecosystem. With games, groups, etc. that tries to keep you on it as much as possible, even if you want to go somewhere else (Facebook Connect). Hell, you can even get all your email there!
Sound familiar? Like, 1995 familiar?
Yes, Facebook is, at this point, essentially AOL. And like AOL, it’s rapidly running into problems because its growth is outstripping its ability to keep up with users while its competitors are leaving it behind. Part of this is just the fact that pleasing 600 million people at once is impossible. But another, more crucial, part is that Facebook desperately wants as much information about you as possible. Facebook Connect may be convenient, but it really exists to give Facebook another data point about you. Your Facebook smartphone app is uploading every phone number you have and every name tied to it to their servers.
Facebook is not in the social networking business, and hasn’t been for a while. Facebook is in the advertising business; you give it information — sweet, sweet information, and it in turn vomits ads at you. This is how Facebook stays in business. And it’s also why Google hates Facebook, because Facebook will not give up any of its information. It can’t. To do so is fiscal suicide. Every data point about you is something it can sell, and therefore is valuable. Letting Google index it would mean the end of the company.
And that’s a problem for Google, because it literally sells more advertising than any entity on Earth. Facebook essentially has a private Internet Google can’t access. But its users are starting to chafe…and Facebook can’t loosen the bonds much.