It’s official: Facebook is uncool.
We’ve been saying it for a while now, but Mark Zuckerberg actually came out and admitted it recently. Just last year, he said that, “Maybe electricity was cool when it first came out, but pretty quickly people stopped talking about it.” Are fewer people turning on their lights because it’s less cool?
While this may not be what teenagers want to hear, I think that Facebook embracing uncool could be the key to their success.
There’s no denying that Facebook is losing portions of its younger demographic. That much is true. But what people hailing the death of Facebook fail to realize is how immensely successful Facebook has been in the wake of their teenage exodus.
The proof is in the pudding. Last quarter, Facebook posted a 63 percent increase in revenue and an eightfold increase in profit, largely due to a refined, more efficient ad process. They’re investing a lot of effort into mobile (see their new app, Paper for more on that), and it’s obviously paying off.
Contrary to what Wired said in their article about Paper (linked above), I don’t see Facebook and electricity as much different. Facebook has risen above the ‘habit’ realm and into the realm of genuine utility. It’s a great place for getting and sharing information, and its usefulness in that regard is in no way dependent on how cool it is.
People aren’t about to regress back into a world without Google and social media platforms like Facebook any more than they are about to give up their electricity, as to do so would be denying themselves of immense power and connectivity.
People, then, don’t use Facebook because it’s cool any more than they use Google because it’s cool. They use it because it’s useful. And the minute that Facebook can stop trying to be fun and cool—as I think they’re starting to now—they can rise out of this apparent slump and really make a dent.
Ad companies showed last quarter that they don’t care about cool. They care about a platform that can deliver ads efficiently (much more efficiently than TV ads, mind you), and that’s it. The same is true for users. They want a platform that can connect them to their friends and get them their information in a streamlined, efficient way. Facebook does both of those beautifully.
On social media, cool buys short-term success, but it isn’t fruitful in the long run. Long-term success takes actual utility—see Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. —and it’s great to see Facebook proving tangibly that on social media, utility rules the day.
Image credit: CC by Robert Scoble