In a world dominated by social media, Facebook takes the crown, the stick with the ball and all the land in the world. The eternal question is omnipresent – what will Facebook take over next? The recent $16 billion acquisition of Whatsapp is a clear indication that this social media platform will go to great lengths to dominate the social space – especially monetizing on the inevitable mobile market boom.
Facebook entered the field with it’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012. The $1 billion buyout was shocking, more so because of Instagram’s small user base. Over the past 2 years, Instagram has gone from strength to strength – becoming available on desktop, testing out ads and targeting, as well as introducing features such as private messaging and videos. It is probably the most popular picture sharing social medium around as it combines the best from two social monopolizers – Twitter and Facebook.
In the 2 years that Instagram has been adopted by Facebook, it has become a better product and more widely used around the world. Brands are tapping into the power of Instagram and the niche group it targets, which is great news for advertisers. While Instagram ads remain a feature available only to few brands in the US, once this feature rolls out, there will be avid investment going into this platform as part of social strategy.
Facebook is openly making an effort to acquire platforms that cater to an audience that is moving away from this platform. The offer to buyout SnapChat in late 2013 was an indication of how the social media giant is desperately trying to reach teenagers and young adults to ultimately dominate the social space.
With a reported 30 million active users in the US, of which 26% are aged between 18 and 29, you can see why Facebook was prepared to pay the hefty amount in cash. The $3 billion offer was refused shortly after it was made, since SnapChat founders felt that their app would reach even higher figures in 2014 – and then make billions more!
While Facebook was making efforts to adopt SnapChat and Instagram, Twitter had it’s own agenda and went on to take video sharing app Vine into their custody. The acquisition was simple and sweet (and risky!), considering that this app wasn’t even launched properly into the market. It seems to have paid off, and is probably the most popular of the 31 start ups Twitter has acquired.
The active interest in mobile apps and their acquisition is an indication of where the social space is headed, and this is why paying $16 billion for Whatsapp makes sense for Facebook. Despite the shocking news and the speculation around it, the investment into Whatsapp will allow Facebook to dominate smartphones around the globe as it taps into 1 billion users of the app. Whether these users were Facebook users or not, they are now officially using an app owned by the company – which is a feat for Facebook. And how does Whatsapp feel about this? I think this pretty much summarises it:
So the social wars continue, on one side we have Facebook with two very strong contenders – Instagram and Whatsapp, while on the other hand we have Twitter with Vine. The real question remains, to what lengths will these platforms go to dominate social media?
Statistically, LinkedIn and Pinterest are two relatively new sites which are yet to fully develop their platform. The scope for growth is immense, but so far both of them give limited features to both users and advertisers. The path that would make sense would be for Facebook to acquire LinkedIn, joining forces to become one the platforms that encompasses both the biggest demand in the world (jobs) and connects them to people (unemployed, career changers, graduates etc). This buyout would make sense, and allow Facebook to connect with users who they might not be able to get through to because of the nature of Facebook.
Whether this buyout would be $20 billion or more, it’s hard to say, but the next venture will surely look into tapping into another platform that focuses on mobile, and enables them to reach a different audience. Pinterest is too young a platform to actually grab the attention of a giant such as Facebook, but if they don’t move fast, Google might be getting ahead in the game (once again) to dominate social space (as they did with YouTube) and add Pinterest to their social projects (because, let’s face it, Google+ isn’t going to last) or Yahoo! might make a futile attempt to revamp their social reach, as they tried with Tumblr – but we all know that that didn’t go anywhere. The real question is really for Facebook – so what’s it going to be Mark? Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tinder or another messaging app such as Viber to make you ruler of all things social and mobile…