Is Facebook Going To Lose Grounds ?

The social networking giant has grown exponentially in the past years. But now it can feel the heat. Here is our analysis:

‘Facebook’ is the most common word, a popular slang for millions of cybercitizens across the globe. The company grew multi-exponentially and founder ‘Mark Zukerberg’ made a huge fortune. It is among the most visited websites on million of devices, and almost a synonym for ‘Social networking’. It has so much integrated in daily life that you may have felt wasted every single day when you didn’t check your ‘Wall’ or ‘Notifications’.

Have you ever thought that this all can be over one day? No, the company is not going to close, but one day you may not feel to visit your FB Wall or update your FB status again. Are we kidding or going with fantasies? No. A recent rumored report from Facebook shows that this can be true in the near future.

During this May, the ever growing company suffered a considerable traffic drop, loosing around 6 million users in US and more than a million or so in other countries like Canada, Russia and UK. The stats suggest that the growth rate of Facebook has declined in recent two months. While the website added 20 million new users each month in 2010, the rate has reduced to 13.9 million people in April and 11.9 million people in May for 2011. And the graph has started to show a continuous negative slope.

The reason could be anything, be it the limited number of people on earth or just a short term fall in the stats for some rare chances, and it can be a ‘nothing to worry about’ situation. But what if the stats are indicating that the FB dominance over the internet is falling and this giant can be defeated by other social networking companies? We‘ve figured out some of the reasons why this seems possible.

1. But you promised that this’ll be ‘private’!

One thing that has really emerged as the utmost need for social networking is ‘user’s privacy’. Everyone has a private life, and that person has full right to live it without being stalked, even if the person is part of a Social network. However, Facebook doesn’t seem to understand this fact completely. Moreover, the ‘ever-changing terms and conditions’ regarding privacy policy from Facebook doesn’t seem to be understandable.

I’ve seen people complaining that their private lives have lost once they got addicted to Facebook. Although I believe that very few of these have actually tried to control different access levels at their account settings, yet almost each of us face annoying ads on walls previewing some latest phone right at the moment we crashed our current one. You can’t avoid noticing that Facebook collects data about user’s activity in the background to run marketing, and poor user can’t do much about it.

No, User’s don’t trust Facebook when it comes to their privacy. Even I don’t. For instance, I don’t want to be an open target for all the dating websites, which recently collected information that my relationship status is ‘Single’ on Facebook. But Facebook never informs you that it has passed on your info.

2. Wait, that option was right there a second ago!

Changes are good. They keep things fresh. But if you change your wallpaper 12 times during a year, you may yourself get annoyed for not remembering the last color you added to the front wall. Same is the case with Facebook. With frequent layout changes the website goes thorough, chaos increase among users. Every simpler interface added becomes complex when changed frequently, and poor user who took a month to learn the detailed interface now looks blank.

What’s the result? She posts a Status in protest, tries to adapt the feature and if it looks difficult or takes long, she stops using it often. Then inactivity gradually increases, and gets infected to friends, friends of friends for not using that feature. One day she decides to delete her inactive account, but the ‘Account delete’ feature has just been ‘updated’, so she leaves it as it is. (Yes, the article is written by a member of ‘Male’ species who believe that female users suffer more difficulty adapting to new technology. Please do not curse me for it and take it as a piece of humor. I respect all female clan)

The point is-‘What is with all these frequent changes?’ Let users learn and adapt to a system, and give us a fair due time for that. We even post that we didn’t like the new layout, but FB guys don’t listen at all.

3. ‘Yawn! You’re also surfing Facebook’

Face it! In recent times, may be for once, but you must have got bored of Facebook. Facebook came as a fresh breeze in 2004, offering newer stuff other then entertainment and music features offered by MySpace and Friendster. Yet, after six long years, when everyone is on Facebook, the idea has started to seem boring. In the short-lived internet market, this great piece of code has really reached to a point where it needs some fresh and innovative tools and ideas, to spark user’s interest once again. Innovation is the key here, but the ideas should be adaptable for the masses.

In the upcoming years, Facebook will really need to reinvent itself. This wonder can’t have users exclaiming for long with same old features. Yet, adding complete new features will add problems at user’s part, as they will need to learn them and adapt to them. FB will need to maintain a delicate balance between making changes and keeping UI simple and same for users to adapt them. This will be really a test of time for Zukerberg and his guys.

4. Functionalities, OK! We want them, but in a simple format

What if your car’s dashboard has some fifty knobs and buttons to control each and every feature and monitor status of whole system? It’s going to look like a plane’s cockpit. Although some sci-fi people will find this thought exciting, most of the people will prefer simple things. No matter if we can’t set engine temperature and air intake ourselves, all we want is a car which is easy to drive.

Same is the case is with any website. User Interface plays an important role, and it should be simple and easy to learn. Facebook, when started, had a pretty simple interface. You could upload status and photos, post on wall and poke your friend.

With each new function, Facebook got more sophisticated, advanced and feature rich over time. Yet it lost one thing in basic- the simplicity of UI. Now an average beginner would definitely take more time to learn and understand all the features. As most of the users are not geeky type and prefer to keep things simple, Facebook definitely needs to simplify itself. Although it may annoy advanced users, yet it is necessary to attract masses.

5. Now I’m on Google+

Facebook has faced competition earlier as well. Yet, it emerged as a winner, rising above services like Hi5, MySpace, Friendster and Orkut. Facebook is a legend in social networking. But after Facebook murdered Orkut, Google decided to come after it, with its latest contender, the Google+. This is the top contender which is expected to beat Facebook.

The main power of Google+ lies in the fact that it has emerged at the right time when people have started to feel for a change. Also, with a detailed research and design from internet Giant Google, the Google+ claims to offer deeper interaction between users with some interpersonal features like ‘Hangout’ and ‘Circles’.

Some people feel that Google+ is just copying Facebook with new and fancy names like ‘Stream’ for wall posts, ‘Instant upload’ for Facebook photo upload and ‘+1’ for ‘Facebook like’. Yet, Google+ is anticipated to be a winner in long term, owing to a simple UI, search engine result integration and better support with millions of Android devices. Google+ has already shown signs of exponential growth, adding more than 20 million users in a few weeks and claiming the title of fastest growing network ever.

On an overall conclusion, Facebook is facing some serious threats from competition which can offer better services. Facebook really needs to adapt some new and interesting features, or better, a completely new platform to keep users interested. Moreover, these should be easy to learn and should make Facebook simpler than it is today. I know you might be addicted to Facebook, and you might feel logging out much difficult today, but who knows what claims your attention in the future.