Facebook Revenue Soars as Usable Real Estate Plummets

Facebook's Secret Message to Me

Facebook’s Secret Message to Me (Photo credit: boltron-)

I used to really love Facebook.   I loved it not only for personal use, but for business use as well.  I still have multiple Facebook accounts that I manage for my business and of course, my personal account. I used to visit my Facebook feed several times a day.   I did it to look for news, what my friends were saying, the few photographers I follow, some gardening pages that are really high quality, and to keep up with my direct reports at work.

I’ve visited my Facebook page twice in the last week.  Once was to tell my daughter who’s studying abroad in Copenhagen that we wanted to chat with her on …. wait for it…. Skype.  I’d normally just chat her on Facebook.  I’m bummed that I don’t want to go there anymore.

So, as a social media manager and a lover of all things social, some of you are probably shocked at this attitude.  Let me tell you how a long-time Facebook user and enthusiast ended up jaded and frustrated.  It’s all about usable real estate:

I Mean REALLY, Look at All Those Ads

At some point, any site that depends on ads for its primary source of revenue has to go overboard on the ads due to the almighty dollar, and I think I know when Facebook finally went over the line.

The only thing I really like to look at is my news feed.  There are other features in Facebook, but the news feed right in the middle is what everyone likes and uses the most.  So, I got frustrated one day and graphed out the changes in the Facebook UI over time, and compared that to company revenue.

Check it out:

I went back in time all the way to 2010 and looked at a LOT of screen shots of Facebook’s UI changes over time. I used screenies from all over the place, including a Facebook UI timeline I found on SlideShare that was easy to thumb through.

I then checked the estimated and projected yearly revenue for Facebook from 2010 until today and graphed it out.  Here’s what I came up with:

Facebookrevvshoriz

 

So, the X axis is the year.  Obviously :)

The Y axis means two different things.

The BLUE LINE is the usable real estate as a percentage, in my terms.  I got this percentage by doing the following:

  • I analyzed screenshots from 2010 forward of what the Facebook news feed page looks like
  • I compared the horizontal pixels used by the news feed box to the total width of the frame
  • I turned that comparison into a percentage of usable horizontal real estate.

The RED LINE is the yearly (or estimated yearly) gross revenue for Facebook, in HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS.  So for example, in 2010 Facebook brought in around $2 billion.

For me, reading the graph, I was still a satisfied user back in 2012 when the horizontal real estate was OK.

You know what happened in 2012?  Facbook got CLOBBERED on the street.  They got panned for their lack of a good approach for mobile revenue, which prompted the pretty drastic decrease in usable real estate.  But it wasn’t just adapting to mobile.

They’re simply cramming too many ads down my throat now.

They’re even sprinkling them in my news feed, polluting what once was a hefty stream of consciousness from all of my trusted friends and companies.

If that graph continues like that, we’ll start seeing Facebook posting losses because people WILL leave in droves.  Mark my words, Facebook :)

I’ll tell you what Facebook.  Two years down the road, I’ll throw another data line into the graph that shows active users of the platform and we’ll do the same exercise!!

Till next time,

Daryll

Why We Started it All – My Visit with The Geek Whisperers

geek-whisperersA couple of weeks back, my old buddy John Troyer and I started talking via email about social, communities, and how much of a marketing wasteland social has turned into.  A few emails back and forth, and we landed on a few key topics.  He and I worked together on the community team at VMware way back in the day.

Thing of it is, I started the VMware Communities back in the day because it was a great place for customers to talk about some of the coolest IT technology anyone had ever seen *at the time*.  There’s tons of cool stuff out there now, but what VMware did was truly impressive for the time and climate.

And so my appearance on The Geek Whisperers was born.  The Geek Whisperers are a group of three folks (John Mark Troyer, Amy Lewis, and Matthew Brender), who run a weekly podcast on the topic of enterprise marketing to the IT audience.  Loosely.  The topics wander a little, which I just LOVE.

So I went on to talk to John about why we started the VMware communities in the first place, and what became of the whole enterprise IT marketplace online since then.  We also get into how behavior and demeanor and what you posted on the old VMTN forums was self-policed by the community after a while.

And a bunch more cool topics.  A bunch.  It was a HOOT.

You can catch the episode on the Geek Whisperers website at: Geek Whisperers Episode 41

I will surely be back to talk to them all about metrics, ’cause we didn’t geek out nearly enough on that.  I think people who run around talking about mentions and share of voice and number of followers aren’t doing their organization a service, and they ought to be digging deeper.

Till next time :)

-Daryll

Social Media for Social Good: VMware Alumni

You know, feel-good moments don’t come along too often, but based on what I’ve seen over the last few days, I think the human race is going to turn out OK after all.

As some of you know, I was a very early employee at VMware, and founded their first set of online discussion forums. I was somewhere around the 100th employee of what became a multi-billion dollar business, and my time there was extremely fun and rewarding. I found my passion for Social Business there, so I have VMware to thank for that. I left the company in 2007, and shortly thereafter joined a mailing list and group on LinkedIn called the VMware Alumni group. Over the years, this group has had varying levels of activity, often flaring up at the oddest times for the strangest reasons.

Day before yesterday, the official news came out that VMware was going to have some layoffs.  An email started circulating in the VMware Alumni group about the layoff announcement. What has transpired since that initial email has been nothing short of amazing.

The discussions that flared up were in three basic categories:

  1. I remember my time at VMware, and it was a lot of fun.  I’m so glad I can reminisce with former employees on this mailing list.
  2. I was caught up in a layoff at <insert company here> and it was a bummer
  3. Hey, my company is hiring, if you just got laid off and are joining the Alumni group, come work for my company!

It was that third one that amazed me the most.  The outpouring of “I’m so sorry for those that are losing their jobs, let’s help them find new ones” was really amazing.

The postings about jobs became so prolific that the group owner actually created and posted a spreadsheet for all of the job postings.  He also made it so that anyone could edit the spreadsheet and re-post it.

To my fellow VMware alumni who have recently joined, welcome aboard.  To those who have been in the Alumni group for a while, I hope you share a similar good feeling about how heroic this list became as quickly as it did.

And for those VMware old-timers who are part of the Alumni group, I have one message for you:  The intersection is flooded.