person on their phone on facebook

In early 2016, Facebook experienced a decline in user-generated content by about 21%, leading to the necessity for changes to Facebook’s demeanour in order to recapture their users, especially in the face of Snapchat’s rising popularity.

Several changes are already evident, popping up on news feeds and the mobile app. Facebook has started making note of various significant celebrations with a welcome dashboard at the top of feeds, the introduction of ‘rooms’ as an alternate way of using Messenger to talk to a group of people, and has implemented several emojis which lead to in-app Messenger games when sent and clicked on in a chat.

To make a more curated experience, that isn’t just based on connecting with friends, Facebook as even brought in weather warnings, whenever there’s predicted rain. However, some of the changes are larger and not as apparent, though come with greater consequences.

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Image from Twitter

Facebook was initially constructed as a social network, as the title of the 2010 Oscar-winning movie suggests. The mission statement, found on Facebook’s own Facebook page reveals their mission is to “give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”. It declares that Facebook users use the platform to “stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”

Which is, incidentally, what people use Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube for. This is precisely why Facebook needs to continually find ways to stay relevant. As a business and a social media platform, it needs to constantly update itself and its purpose to continue being attractive to its users.

The social media platform recently unveiled a new feature which allows people to sell products on Facebook. Its introduction adds a novel element to staying ‘open and connected’ through simply sharing photos, videos, articles, and thoughts. It makes use of the fact that ‘buying and selling’ groups have become more popular, and extends into a space already occupied by sites such as eBay and Craigslist.

Another interesting addition to Facebook is the introduction of Messenger Day, a feature which allows users to snap a photo, add stickers and drawings, and upload it to their Messenger app for their friends to see for 24 hours. This is should very familiar. Hot on the heels of Instagram’s story feature, both platforms have introduced something eerily similar to Snapchat. Even the design of it is fairly alike.

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Image from Facebook Newsroom

Its plan to enter into the realm of online video content is also a part of that departure from the brand’s image. Facebook is in the process of creating a module specifically for video content on its mobile app. It’s planning on spotlighting original content, rather than showcasing the news content that usually pops up on Facebook feeds. The idea is to take on video series with episodes lasting from 3 to 30 minutes long. Essentially, YouTube, but on Facebook.

It’s not all about Facebook looking to be the greatest media platform of all time, it’s also striving to be the most empathetic, by furthering CSR through initiatives like #SheMeansBusiness, in a bid to help female entrepreneurs by providing them with resources to get their businesses off the ground. It also implemented Safety Check, a feature which attempts to help individuals in disaster-stricken areas let their families and friends know that they’re safe through checking in on Facebook. Its first use was in the 2015 Nepal earthquakes in April and May, and the first use of the feature in a non-natural disaster event was during the 2015 Paris attacks in November. In February this year, Facebook added an extra element to it, Community Help, which allows other users to provide assistance to those in crisis areas.

Facebook turned 13 this year, and in accordance with anyone who becomes a teenager, it’s in the process of questioning who it is, and who it will be. A social platform, a media company, or simply an amalgamation of several different social media sites to produce the ultimate engagement tool? Only time will tell.

 

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