HAS ANYONE CHECKED ON TOM?
Our social media landscape has gone through many changes over the years with platforms rising, falling, morphing, expanding and burning more times than a pie on a comic relief episode of GBBO. Failing to futureproof a platform’s offering by not catering to users’ ever-changing appetites, trends and behaviours can be fatal.
Remember “sharing the love” on Bebo? When 7 seconds on Vine seemed like the perfect length for all video content? And when’s the last time you checked in on your MySpace friend Tom?
It’s funny to think MySpace once thought it laughable that Zuckerberg valued his little-known platform, The Facebook, at $75m - not that long ago in the grand scheme of things. The nature of the game means growth or survival is dictated by the initial core offering, and subsequent improvement, diversification or modification.
This summer, Facebook announced its Calibra subsidiary which will manage and grow its own cryptocurrency living on the Libra blockchain. Why? Simple; revenue. Facebook wants you to do everything within the reach of its platforms. The inspiration came from the east where WeChat is king, and used by billions to do everything from ordering cabs to paying restaurant bills to signing job offer contracts. Calibra is the next step of the platform’s evolution – a strategy which started back when the Messenger app was split from the main platform. Those who have been prophesising the death knell of the big “f” for years keep coming back with egg on their faces, why? Because Facebook is a monster, just ask Snapchat, which is still struggling to come to terms with the introduction of “Stories” to Instagram in 2016. Seems light years ago, right? Social moves fast and if you’re not adapting even faster, you’re in trouble.
Speaking of Snapchat, I’ll admit I’m surprised it hasn’t gone by the wayside yet. It was too slow to adapt to marketing and brand side attributes in terms of insights, analytics and advertising – something other platforms were improving daily. It saw itself as somewhat anti-establishment and for the users, not for brands. “Money isn’t what we’re about” it claimed in rejecting Facebook’s $3bn bid to acquire in 2013. Yesterday it announced an ‘instant’ tool for developing vertical ads for brands in the hope of enticing new advertisers to part with their cash. Money might not be what it’s about, but try surviving without it.
This week it also launched a new ‘Real Friends’ campaign which some might say is a shot fired at the privacy of its rivals and the authenticity shown by their users. Time will tell if it will it be enough to migrate users back to snapping and story-ing with peers in large enough quantities to monetise in the same category as Facebook.
Side note: American presidential candidate and former VP, Joe Biden, announced he’s on Snapchat – we’re not sure his validation will attract many new users but we’re definitely curious to know what he snaps.
We’ve already covered how Google has sidestepped into the gaming industry with Stadia in a strategic move with a self-serving loop fed by YouTube’s gaming content from users and the subsequent targeting it can activate and monetise (you can read that post here if you missed it). The industry is a $140bn cash cow and Google is sharpening its knives, if it delivers then it will show how the bigger brand giants continue to adapt and futureproof their businesses.
Oh, and if you’re still wondering about Myspace Tom? He sold the company for $580m in 2005, retired, lives in Hawaii and travels the world taking photographs. If you check out https://www.instagram.com/myspacetom you’ll see he’s been doing just fine without you.
*typed while reminiscing of picking ‘Top 16’ friends and updating the ‘Flashbox’ on Bebo - damn I’m old!*