Facebook is forever

Facebook vs. SnapchatThere has been a significant amount of analysis about Facebook’s impending doom of late. Some people have hypothesized that Facebook is a social movement and the movement is at an end. Others have implied that teens inclination toward Snapchat implies that it is a competing social network.

My interest in this is making it clear that Facebook is now so big that it is possible to realize that there are segments to the social network world. One thing I hear from “old people” (my peers) is concern that in 20 years, the person running for President will have to deal with Facebook pictures posted in their college years that will be far from flattering.

Snapchat is a reaction to this. Teenagers realize the exact same thing my peers notice. The world is a different place. The things people post on Facebook are permanent.

Facebook Permanent Social Network Perfect for baby pictures, marriage announcements, vacation pictures
Snapchat Temporary Social Network Perfect for drinking pictures, drunk pictures, passed out pictures

So as the world has become overwhelmingly digital, there is value in having two different models for your social networking activities – one as you share things that are interesting, but you would like to forget, and one for things that you want to keep for posterity.

This means that Snapchat’s target market is, quite frankly, a younger market than Facebook’s, but it seems not unreasonable to think that people will tend to participate in both networks over time, migrating to Facebook as they, frankly, become less likely to do things they will regret.

I think it is brilliant of Snapchat to segment the market in this way and recognize the market need. While attention is a zero-sum game and people can only have so many social networks, I do think that the service that Facebook provides as a lasting repository for our memories is not eliminated by Snapchat.

I will add that I loved Jay Weintraub’s post – while I don’t think they directly compete, I think there is a tremendous competition for attention in this market. Facebook has to remain “the place where people update their status” for the permanent record and with the evolution of mobile devices, updating status is incredibly easy no matter what network people are using. The benefit of the existing social graph that Facebook brings to the game gives them powerful momentum, which services them well, but past performance is no guarantee of future results.

In this respect, Facebook’s efforts to tie themselves into the network more completely using things like Facebook Login serve them well. Getting people started on Facebook is critical path to making Facebook their permanent record of choice.

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