The latest deal by Facebook, incorporating Skype into its services got me thinking about how many times Facebook can reinvent itself to continue its pre-eminence among social media.  But right now Facebook’s greatest death threat appears to come from coupons.

It seems to me that the future of social media is repeatedly being obscured by the dogged pursuit of profit – not that I’m opposed to entrepreneurship. 

Virtually every social space (sports field or concert hall) has been colonised to some extent by promotional activity (did you see the film festival’s “Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” by Morgan Spurlock?  It dramatises the ambient marketing techniques which ensure product and service propositions appear in places where we least expect them.

But any threat to Facebook can be tested against what has already happened to Twitter.  Stats from Fortune magazine note that:
·        47% of those who have Twitter accounts are no longer active on the service.
·        The time spent per month has dropped from 14min 6sec in 2010 to 12min 37sec in 2011.  (Fortune magazine, May 2, 2011 (pp42 – 45).  “Trouble @ Twitter” by Daniel Roberts)

I estimate that if usage continues to drop at 1½ minutes a year; by 2020, there will be no Twitter users.

Whereas coupon mania has spread just about everywhere else, even onto Facebook.  Could it eventually swamp Facebook?

According to moneymakerdiscussion.com, you can design your own coupons for your Facebook fan page to offer special deals. You can even schedule your coupon promotions ahead of time so the offer on your fan page will update automatically.  Furthermore, PCWorld reported in March 2011, that Facebook was expanding its own ‘Deals local business discount’ service to compete directly with so-called ‘social buying’ coupon sites such as Groupon and Living Social.

The social coupon business model has really taken off.  As soon as other companies recognized that in Groupon’s business the money is delivered up front, they couldn’t wait.  Now we have Couponmeup, GrabOne, Yazoom,  Spreets, Treatme, Vouchermate, Onedaydeals, Ezycoupons, Yellow Vouchers etc.

It’s not only social media that are joining the feeding frenzy.  GrabOne advertises in its 50% shareholder NZ Herald to support its online promotions.  MediaWorks runs its own coupon venture, Cudo, in partnership with ACP Media, Microsoft's MSN and Cudo Australia.  CouponMeUp.com offers deals through its website or via its iPhone app.

NBR (April 26, 2011) reported a Nielsen Online Retail survey had shown two thirds of online New Zealanders received email alerts from daily deal websites, and a further 40 percent said they had made a purchase from such sites in the previous three months.  Kiwis are not alone.  My quick internet survey of the latest entrants world-wide came up with names and places as diverse as: allaroundsportsllc.com, Compras Peru, dngvitamins.com, efowl.com, herb-shack.com,  HockeyGiant.com, JapanVideoGames.com, Monsterjamsuperstore.com, N1wireless.com, ncesoft.com, passportvisasexpress.com, Puffitup.com, Statebicycle.com, and myfirstresponders.com.

This whole schmozzle points to a grim possibility that nobody in their right mind would suggest – the demise of Facebook.  But, if Facebook allows itself to be taken over by commercial forces, such as coupon offers, the only real social medium to survive past 2020, might be the one I predicted would be the first to disappear – Twitter.  Its failure to commercialise may save it.

Posted by Joseph Peart
 


Comments


Comments are closed.