Wednesday, March 21, 2018

We've Hit Peak Facebook

The good news is that Facebook is getting sued by its own investors, governments in the U.S. and EU are conducting multiple investigations and probes, and its own users are pissed at their privacy being breached. The even better news is that Mark Zuckerburg is handling it in all the wrong ways. We've hit peak Facebook.

And yet, that already happened before this slow-building fiasco took place.

Facebook as a platform has been losing more and more value as the company struggles to find anywhere and everywhere to place ads. The advertising model is slowly dying because people hate ads themselves. Intrinsically. They just suck. Ads on Facebook are saturated, and many big companies are pulling back their own spending and questioning the ROI. This means even worse things for the little guy. The reason Facebook wants to get into video as badly as it does, is because pre-roll ads on Facebook is the last frontier for growth.

What happened, and why does anything in the previous paragraph matter?

Because building your home on someone else's property is a bad idea.

I mentioned this at the end of last December, and it's proving true even three months into 2018. YouTube has no idea how to conduct itself, Facebook has destroyed small businesses on their platform, and Twitter can't destroy anymore bots without revealing they've been running on negative growth for several quarters now. Your digital real estate matters, and any reliance on a single platform runs into trouble when that basket is rocked.

This year is the year for people to take back ownership, or they'll be left on an over-valued island that is slowly sinking due to more and more ads dragging it down.

Of course, I say this as someone running his website on Blogger. A fair point, and even Google isn't afraid to dig deep into its inner YouTube and terminate someone without even a notice. But Blogger is a fine, if under-powered website builder, sword of Damocles aside. I save money on domain linking and HTTPS encryption, and the website is easy to use and customize. There's always WordPress (.org and .com), Squarespace, Wix, and plenty of others.

My website is my property, with quarterly reminders planned to back up my posts in case anything were to happen to them. This is the problem with using a website like Medium to blog. Yes, it has its own type of discoverability, but its also not completely under the user's control. Blogger, like many of these sites, it variable levels of control given up for convenience. The fairness of that trade off is up to the user to decide.

In the world of books, there is a reason why authors are flocking to service like BookFunnel to help sell direct to a reader on their website. Going a step bigger, it's the same reason why Target and Walmart are not choosing to slim down their store size, and instead using their stores as fulfillment centers for online orders. It's about establishing a direction relationship between creation and consumer.

And the world of online used to be this way, just a decade ago. The 2000s is characterized by the webcomic. Lots of people monetized their weekly comic strips through Google Adsense or other means. Don't forget, that was a winning strategy!

The dream was merch and ads, and then it became just ads, then ads and Patreon, and then just Patreon, and oh no, Patreon is sticking their hands in everyone's wallets! Stop! Bad Patreon! Get out of here you venomous snakes, and stop trying to nickel and dime everyone obscurity.

Really, it's a recent phenomenon for people to use platforms to host their goods. Facebook and Google made it easy and the terms sweet. Like how some bands chose a Myspace page instead of a website, so did small businesses choose Facebook pages. In both cases, the user was screwed. One look at seeing brands and retailers today shows that digital real estate ownership matters.