Don’t believe Fake News: Only Facebook is the Facebook Killer

Where things stand right now, I don’t see anyone being able to shake the king’s throne. Not enough to make Zuck frown at least.

For the past three years, every once in a while I come across an article touting Snapchat as the Facebook killer.

My response has always been the same — “Yeah right!

Make no mistake, I am nowhere under the impression that there has ever existed a regime that can’t be overthrown. A shoutout to The British Empire. And the corporate world is no different. No matter how much I love Google products, services and their overall approach to business, I don’t even consider them irreplaceable. Microsoft managed to escape getting blown away to oblivion by the skin of their teeth. So, why would I feel any differently for Facebook. Ofcourse Facebook is replaceable, and maybe someday there would be a company that would be able to overthrow them from their position of supremacy. But the way the pieces are laid out on the chessboard right now, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Originally published on Quora
Reproduced for HackerNoon. Some minor edits for improved readability.
The original question on Quora:
Are you a former Facebook user, or someone who no longer uses Facebook frequently? Is there an alternative to Facebook that you like better? Why do you like it better?

I no longer use Facebook like I once used to. I spend maybe a few minutes on facebook every week, and most of the times it is because of some relevant notification Facebook sends me.

But I did not leave Facebook for some other social media platform. As a user, I just got disenchanted with Facebook.

In response to your question on what is the alternative to Facebook. The way I see it, the alternative to Facebook is Facebook itself — at least where we stand as of today.

THE VALUE FACEBOOK BRINGS TO BUSINESSES

The network effect is far too strong, and the value that Facebook brings — as a user acquisition and engagement platform — to businesses is unparalleled. I still use Facebook (or more accurately, my team does) for different businesses, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

In a data exercise Wishpond did, it listed down how Facebook and Google performed on different parameters[1], and while both of them are giants in their own spaces, what interested me the most can be summarised in this one single image:

WHAT FACEBOOK MEANS TO THE END USERS

Even for end users, Facebook has been able to form quite a closely tied net of communities, and that has been keeping it strong all these years — despite many having tried to topple it from its position. Bringing new users onto the platform is a relatively easier task, but having a strong base that is engaged on the platform, and engaged amongst themselves, and ensuring that this base is not just strong in its engagement but also in its sheer volume — now that is quite a daunting task.

If you follow tech publications, you would have seen stories on the lines of “Facebook is losing teens to Snapchat”. Basically all those stories suggest that teens prefer using Snapchat to Facebook.

There are three things that I have got to say to that:

  1. I have been reading this exact theme for the past three years. So, either Facebook keeps on losing the teens and then regaining them, or the media publications are suffering from short term memory loss and forget they have been saying this every single year.
  2. Had the story been as “solid” as it has appeared every year, we would not have seen the ups and downs with Snap — something that has unfolded over the past few months.
  3. Even if teens prefer ‘short bursts of visual content’ to consume as compared to what Facebook typically offers — and I can understand that being true, Facebook is losing the teen demographics to both Snapchat and Instagram. Now, (a) Instagram is owned by Facebook, and it is also being monetized. So not a fatal blow here, and (b) Instagram increasing usage in the past couple of years would tell you that whatever users Facebook had been losing to Snapchat, it has been able to reclaim some of that lost territory riding on Instagram. And I strongly suspect this trend will continue.

Also, I think I should mention that while Snapchat was going strong, it wasn’t as if Instagram was getting mauled out there. Instagram didn’t need saving, per say. It was, and has been a preferred platform for anybody looking to build a following. If anything, people used to put in a lot of effort into building and maintaining their Instagram persona. Snapchat was more instant, and with Instagram stories (and Facebook Stories), Facebook added that capability to its products; and users rejoiced. Have a look at how “Instagram stories” has progressed over time vis-a-vis Snapchat’s growth.

Also, this is the engagement level for these platforms.

Once again, as you would note — both Facebook and Instagram rank higher than the once touted Facebook killer, Snapchat; and both Facebook and Instagram are owned by Facebook.

And then there is the ARPU[2]. Let’s look at that as well; after all, businesses are in the business of making money.

Now, first of all, that is quite a substantial gap. The magnitude of that difference gets amplified manyfold if you take into account how far ahead of Snapchat Facebook is in terms of its DAU. Sure, Snapchat is still in a fairly nascent stage, and they have a lot of time to get their rev model strong, and not to forget, even though they lag behind Facebook on DAU, their DAU is still something every startup dreams of. But even with all those considerations given to Snapchat, it doesn’t even begin coming close to giving Facebook a “real enough” fight for the crown.

I think I would rest my case.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] [Infographic] Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads

[2] Why Snapchat is shrinking

Originally published at www.quora.com.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow!

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