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What Is Facebook’s Future?

Facebook has caught a lot of flak since going public a year ago, but it’s still the world’s largest social network with more than 1.1 billion users.

Some marketers question its long-term viability. Others say it’s never had more potential to reach new customers.

So what is the future of Facebook?

Facebook's Future - Demand Success

This is the question that Geoff Livingston, Katya Andresen, Rebecca Davis, Shashi Bellamkonda and Angela Hausman discussed in Facebook Futures panel at Demand Success. Here are four questions and paraphrased answers from the session:

1. Is Facebook a must?

Shashi Bellamkonda: Considering that it has 1.1 billion users, you can presume your audience is there. Whether they want to hear from you is a different question.

Rebecca Davis: No. Facebook has a crowded market place, making it tough to break through. For many of our smaller organizations, we’re leaving it off the list.

Katya Andresen: Maybe. Marketers must ask two questions: what is the most meaningful way of engaging their target audience and what platform allows us to get in front of people in the moments they want to hear from us?

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Angela Harman: The biggest areas of growth in Facebook are among older people and internationally. If you’re trying to reach Millennials, they’re not using it as much anymore.

2. Mobile traffic is up on Facebook. Is losing desktop traffic a problem or part of the evolution to mobile?

AH: Everything is moving to mobile. Everyone has their smartphone right there with them.

SB: Of the 1.1 billion Facebook users, 751 million are mobile and 79 percent of Facebook’s audience is outside of the United States. Many people have skipped the PC generation and just use their phone.

KA: When it comes to Facebook, it’s inevitable that mobile has to become part of it, but that has to happen with fluidity. People go to be among peers and escape advertising, but mobile ads can feel invasive.

3. Facebook doesn’t really innovate. It adapts what its niche competitors do. What does that say about the company?

RD: Facebook is a very large media entity that keeps careful track of its competitors and continues to grow and learn. It has gone from master brand to a house of brands. It seems like a sustainable way of building business.

AH: First movers have the expense of teaching everyone about adoption. The second mover often reaps more rewards than the first mover. In this space, there’s a lot of good ideas and innovations. Take what’s already working and spend time making it work better.

KA: Each social media platform solves a problem, according to Millennials. The reason Facebook makes these acquisitions is they see that and want to stay relevant. They are able to do that in a way that preserves the essence of each of those and captures all of the underlying data.

4. What do you think the impact of hashtags on Facebook will be?

SB: Facebook is very difficult to search. I think it will make it much easier to search for stuff we need if they’re used properly.

RD: What we see in social media is dynamic community. Hashtags bring together people in a moment in time.

AH: People like it when there’s something they want to organize around, such as Snowmageddon snowball fights. I think people like it. From a marketing perspective, it can be dangerous. People can use hashtags to slam your company. It’s a double-edged sword.

KA: Hashtags allow us to find what’s personally relevant in an efficient way. How Facebook will thrive is if they keep speaking to those fundamental needs. Does this tool enrich the experience or dilute it?

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Image: Venessa Miemis (Creative Commons) and Divya Ooi

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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