Nov 202012

Following up on last week’s criticism of Facebook, US entrepreneur Mark Cuban clarified his position about the social network.

Central to Mark’s criticism are three points about Facebook’s business model; that it is a time waster, it takes control away from users and it doesn’t succeed in connecting people to information and friends.

All of this is true, and these features are key to the walled garden model that all of the internet empires want to build.

Central to this strategy is the “time on site” metric and so far Facebook beats all comers, with a huge 400 minutes per month per user.

Users who spend a long time on a website are more valuable than those who don’t hang around and Facebook’s success has been in capturing the attention of their members and locking them into their platform.

The willingness of other websites, particularly media companies, to lock themselves into Facebook’s platform has puzzled many observers as they are giving their customers away to the social media service.

How willing internet users are in hanging around Facebook’s, or Amazon’s, Google’s and Apple’s, walled gardens remains to be seen; it depends upon how compelling the content and value is.

If Mark Cuban’s right, viewers’ eyeballs and advertising dollars may start moving away from Facebook when people realise they are missing out on relevant information.

The real value in media organisations, whether we talk about old media such as newspapers or new media like social platforms, is in presenting relevant information to visitors and readers. As the many news organisations are learning, when you stop being relevant then people stop paying attention.

Being relevant is the great challenge for Facebook, newspapers and all media organisations.

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