Commitment to Facebook will lessen over time

Some people say, “What will be the next Facebook?”

  • Other’s say, “There isn’t going to be one. Commitment to Facebook is extremely high.”
  • Some argue that the switching costs for Facebook users will grow over time and that, in part, is why people will be unlikely to switch from Facebook to many, if any, of its competitors en masse in the future.

I disagree though.

  • The switching costs for Facebook users are in fact shrinking over time.
  • Imagine for a moment a single rock, or perhaps a rock structure like in the picture below, standing in the middle of a powerful river. This rock is Facebook and its users, standing strong, in a rushing river of competitors and scandals.

Over time, Facebook’s competitors and scandals will wear away at Facebook’s base, stealing some of its users and making it more unstable.

  • Eventually, the base of this structure will be so worn away by the power of the river rushing by that it will tumble and fall. It will remain largely whole, but being so unstable that it can no longer stand above the water, it will be worn away even faster…until there is nothing left.

This is Facebook’s future.

  • It stands strong and whole now, but is already being worn away at the base, and though it will continue to grow, the persistent competition and scandals will make it more compelling for users to switch away from Facebook until eventually, it will fall and lose users more quickly than ever before.

Do you see the switching costs for Facebook growing? Or, do you see them shrinking over time as I do?

Sculptures on the Humber River by Michael-Gil

Sculptures on the Humber River by Michael-Gil

5 thoughts on “Commitment to Facebook will lessen over time

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Commitment to Facebook will lessen over time | Smart Marketing for Smart People -- Topsy.com

  2. Great food for thought Eric. I think that switching costs are really irrelevant in the long run, at least for me anyway. I don’t see it as a cost to switch from Facebook, especially if all of my friends no longer use it. The cost for me at that point would be not to switch. If I stayed on the eroding pile of rocks, I’d run the risk of not having any friends to connect with. The more people leave, the more costly it would be for me to stay, hence my costs to stay would increase. Having said that, I still think that the scandals and competitors are going to have to be huge for Facebook to get wiped away. People will find it easier to switch if their friends and the rest of society are jumping ship.

  3. @Reza Malayeri, thanks. Exactly. Facebook, like any service or product that relies on mass adoption, needs people to spend their time there, but once a large enough group is legitimately worried about their privacy, finds a better watering hole, or who-knows-what, they’ll go there and the masses will eventually follow.

    Personally, I don’t see that happening soon, but who knows, they could pull a MySpace and suddenly drop off the map quickly for the large majority of people.

  4. Interesting post Eric. I feel like the one of the biggest erosion factors for Facebook will be user fatigue. For example, often times when I get a random friend request from someone who was three grades below me in high school or someone what I said hi to at a social event I often want to deny the request. It’s not because I am anti social rather it’s my hesitation to share certain information with them (let’s start with a follow on Twitter and go from there). I am not on a quest to have 1,000 Facebook friends and to be honest, if I deleted my Facebook account I feel like I would remain fairly close with my IRL friends. :)

    I feel there will be a strong push for close-knit communities such as Path (see 11/15 NY Times article) that restore the high-quality interpersonal communication between people in your inner most social circle. Facebook pushed Groups but who actually uses it? Facebook list, maybe but still too manual. Dunbar’s number lies somewhere between 100-230 so unless you are a brand why share your most private and personal information with the masses?

  5. @Logan Cullen, you make a very good point that I think has been left aside since Facebook’s new-ish grouping function seemed to not get a ton of traction. In my own experience, I find it difficult to not let in people that I have only a slight interest in being connected with, but when I do, I find that I suddenly have to be more strict about what I consider to be “public” vs “private.”

    Path is much too small in my opinion, but let’s be honest. It might take a system with built-in limits before many of us are able to effectively able to manage this quality vs quantity, public vs private, and so on issue.

    Thanks for commenting, Logan. I’d say you could do a follow on post to this on your own blog ;-)

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