This new years, all of the thousands of employees of Facebook are trying to determine what happened in 2012, which was probably their best and worst year in their 10 year history. Let’s take a look back, and see what happened.
Facebook goes public. Good or bad? Debatable. While the IPO is usually a good sign of permanence and value to most companies, Facebook lost nearly half its’ value at points during the year. The Zuck’s net worth went down like a vertical jump. It was not a good year for the publicly traded Facebook as people wondered how they would possibly make enough money. There’s where the next interesting segment of Facebook was at work.
$$ Making Dough $$
Facebook really tried their hardest to make more money in 2012, but they’re struggling. Facebook sidebar ads have been declared ineffective for most, and mobile continues to dominate Facebook’s business so they’ve had to redesign and redefine their advertising. This year they rolled out sponsored posts which strangely enough are meant for people as well as companies. Want your friends to see your political rant? For only $7 you can ensure they will with a sponsored post. That brought serious controversy as many users noticed their posts being buried by the new algorithm- more on that later. Still, Facebook continues to grow. And let’s not forget instagram- Facebook’s $750 million acquisition. So far they have no idea how to monetize the ginormous mobile photo social network, and their first attempt at making monetization possible through terms-of-service changes completely failed as the backlash caused them to withdraw.
Big companies like walmart did turn to advertising on facebook heavily for the holidays thanks to the popularity of social network marketing, but Facebook and marketing still aren’t synonymous.
As for gifts, Facebook is seeing real potential according to initial reports. Facebook is making serious dough off of affiliate links, and may have finally found an ad format that works for them- thanks to several expensive acquisitions though. So monetization has been a rough path for Facebook in 2012, but they’re making progress, and no one said making money was easy.
User Growth And Competition- Google plays Competitor
By the numbers, Facebook is doing well with growth. They have over 1 billion active users, and users average serious daily time on the site. Their biggest threat is from Google Plus, Google’s new social network which has already gained traction with hundreds of millions of users. G+ is a threat, but not too direct a threat because itis more content-based. Facebook, in a differentiating move, actually devalued links out of Facebook– giving Google breathing room. Facebook felt they were losing traffic with outgoing links, so they made those links harder to find which has driven many publishers away from the site. Still, with new social reading apps Facebook is a growing source of news, and in that respect they’re doing well.
User Experience: As many ups and downs as a good roller coaster.
The one area where Facebook really dropped the ball badly was user-experience. Whenever they change the site they see major backlash, but none like that when they implemented the timeline for every user this year. People thought it was seriously lacking, although many users did like it (including myself). Their algorithmic changes have also drawn backlash, and many users were upset about Facebook selling out contacts to spammers by allowing direct contact for $1. Users were also upset to find an entire inbox full of messages Facebook filtered out, many from friends and relatives. I found that last year and didn’t think much of it, but people were upset to find the missed contacts. So, hopefully we can see some improvement in that respect in 2013. Also of mention was the failure of several mobile apps they released to compete with other apps like instagram and Snapchat. They released Facebook Camera and Poke, and neither really gained traction (very predictable- a waste of resources). The only thing to be said about that is that with all of the talented people at Facebook, they should be able to come up with original apps instead of copying.
It certainly was a loaded year for Facebook, and they tried so many new things that it’s hard to classify it as a good or bad year, but Facebook certainly is trying to grow, and that’s the first step. What do you think about Facebook’s changes this year? What do you see for 2013? I’m curious to see where everybody thinks Facebook is going.
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