Facebook is doing it wrong

This is a response to the TechCrunch article about how Facebook Stories are now going to be in the main News Feed as well as Instagram. First of all, how ridiculous is it that Facebook now has not one but TWO clones of Snapchat; not to mention the fact that they are in direct competition with each other? Although I could continue ranting about that, I’ll save that for another blog post. Instead, I want to talk about what I think Facebook should be doing; an idea that is closer to Facebook’s original value proposition and has elements of Snapchat (since Facebook seems to be addicted to the photo and video sharing app).

In an excellent Medium post, Scott Belsky lays out his 5 predictions for the future. His number one prediction is that social media will become passive. What does that mean? In effect, that the idea of sharing photos/video/statuses on Facebook/Snapchat/Instagram etc. will slowly become more and more natural to the point where there is no “fakeness” or editing. We can see that just by the growth of Snapchat alone — as much as people try, Snapchat is being used to document the “everyday” happenings, albeit only the most memorable/funny ones.

When Facebook launched, it had two key features. One was the ability to create a profile that reflected who you were and “friend” other people to expand your network. The other was the “status update” — allowing users to share their thoughts, feelings, opinions at any moment to their friends. My idea is simple — instead of copying Snapchat for ephemeral photo/video sharing, use the 24 hour rule for a Facebook status or Timeline post. Simply allow users to post statuses or items on friends’ Timelines as usual, but give them the option to make those posts disappear after 24 hours. Users can comment, react, and amuse themselves for that time period after which the post will disappear and no one else will see it. All of the actions taken by a user can be applied to their “Feed Story”, which their close friend network will see when they log-on to Facebook.

What is the justification? As Belsky’s article points out, the barrier to posting on social media is much higher than it was in the past. Just think back to the inane posts you made in high school, and the frequency with which you updated your status. It was partially because Facebook only had the status update + wall post feature back then, but also because that was what everyone else is doing. Now that Facebook has been around for over 10 years, think about how often you post status updates, and the makeup of your friend list and News Feed. You will likely wonder who are 500 of the friends you have and what all these Sponsored posts are doing on your feed. The answer is that even though the abundance of content has grown dramatically in the last few years, the relevance and interest of most users remains in a small sub-section of their social network.

Simply put, we don’t care for most of the things on our News Feed. On the other hand, a lot of status updates and wall posts are not things that we care to have remain in our social media history for lifetime — most posts are reactionary anyway (think presidential election, professional sports, local events). Facebook should honor and revitalize their original value proposition with “Feed Stories” and stop making clones of Snapchat.

I would love to hear feedback on this idea. Feel free to drop a line in the comments section. Don’t worry, I won’t delete it tomorrow.