Facebook's App Strategy and the Fragmentation of Social

by Joseph Akbrud


Earlier this week The Verge ran a story stating that Facebook will unveil a “suite of standalone mobile apps”.  These apps will most likely be lean and utilitarian, similar to the messenger app.  This is part of Facebook’s evolution from a social networking behemoth focused on a single product (Facebook.com) to a layered, complex organization that weaves together many products.   

When Facebook launched in 2004 Myspace was by far the most popular social network in the United States with millions of registered users.  Myspace was used for photo sharing, dating, microblogging and video and music sharing making it the social hub of the internet at time.  Myspace’s success however was short lived.  College students began flocking to Facebook because of it’s clean design and lack of spam (issues that plagued Myspace since its inception).  By the time Facebook opened its doors to the world, it was clear that Facebook was the new de facto standard for social networking.   

Fast forward to 2014 and the social landscape is a very different place.  Almost half of online adults use multiple social networks and that number continues to grow.

People use Facebook to share personal updates with friends and family, Twitter to share news, Instagram to share photos, Foursquare to share location-based tips and Linkedin to share professional updates.  The rise of mobile has only helped accelerate this trend.  In its infancy the internet was so difficult to navigate that the most successful websites of the time were walled gardens that helped users navigate the internet (Yahoo, AOL).  Today people are migrated to mobile social networks that are lean and singularly focused.  Instagram makes it easy to take a photo, apply a filter to it and share it with the world.  Sharing your thoughts with the world is merely a 140 character tweet away.  Facebook realizes this and is adapting by focusing on expanding their catalog of apps and making them as easy to use as possible.  

Whether their multiple app strategy will work remains to be seen.  On thing is clear, there will no longer one social network to rule them all.  Mark Zuckerberg knows this and is realigning Facebook as a result.