The web has been buzzing recently with stories of a slain dragon. It’s suggested the omniscient power of Facebook may be coming to an end. The social media giant yesterday slipped to less than half of its IPO price, this just weeks after it was revealed that a whopping 83 million of its 995 million active users may be fakes. So has the bubble had finally burst?
I think it might be a little early to write the obituary.
Yes perhaps Facebook was overvalued in terms of how much return on investment shareholders were likely to gain based on the current business model. But that’s not the same as saying that Facebook does not have a whole world of potential.
Rather than suggesting the social network is a product entering maturity, or even decline in its lifecycle, I think a more useful metaphor may be to consider it as an untapped mine which we’re having a little rouble reaching. After all, Facebook has something that no other brand can come close to claiming. They truly know everything about their consumers.
Think about it, who else on the planet knows us so well? Our best friends? Husband? Mother? Would they really be able to pick out which album we just listened to on Spotify or where we posted an Instagram picture? I doubt it. Whichever way you look at it, even allowing for a big pinch of industry cynicism salt, Facebook is our ultimate confidante.
Don’t believe me, look for yourself.
So far this year I’ve liked (and not immediately unliked) 37 fan pages. And yes, there are plenty that I’ve just been nosing around for reference, but for every one of them there are two which are a pretty good reflection of my interests and preferences. From yoga stores to fashion labels and alcohol brands I’m partial to a tipple of, Facebook would give someone who had never met me a rather scarily accurate description of what I’m into and that’s before we even begin to consider demographics like my age, marital status and location.
Like it or not, what we digitally ‘like’ actually does say a lot about us and mean we voluntarily provide the biggest research engine ever known to man insight on not merely a daily, but real time, basis. It’s the stuff Mintel’s wildest dreams where made of when they began in 1972, and a very brave new world of behaviour that few would have thought possible just ten years ago. In an age where data has been called the new oil, the worth of such information, unlike the value of Facebook’s IPO, is difficult to overstate. How Facebook can tap into it, without damaging the inherent consumer value, is the million dollar question and a question which the pressures of share prices are demanding an answer to. Let’s see if they get it.
For what it’s worth, my money says it really could be the world’s biggest goldmine and who wouldn’t want a share of that?