Can Facebook succeed in monopolising consumer attention?
Facebook recently announced the upcoming launch of its news tab, while launching Threads from Instagram, which is a camera-first messaging app like Snapchat, and Lasso, a TikTok clone video app in Mexico where the Chinese app has not yet entered.
This is in addition to it already owning Instagram and Whatsapp. Not to forget its plans to enter the financial sector through the launch of Libra, which is currently facing scrutiny from regulators.
It seems that Facebook is not only moving to monopolise the social media sector, but even capture the news and finance sector; thereby wanting to have maximum real estate of consumer attention.
This strategy isn’t new, as many of the apps in China and India are launching new services to capture consumer attention, becoming so called ‘super apps’.
The question is, will Facebook succeed in this? And what will its repercussions be?
The Pew Research Center found that 52% of US adults already get their news from Facebook, making it the most popular social platform for news sourcing, as reported by Techcrunch. Having said that, the slight good news is that it also does not hold trust from its consumers when it comes to news; especially after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
When it comes to social media, Facebook used to enjoy a 70 percent dominance in the sector. While it still tops charts of monthly active users, its market share has declined to 36.64%. However, it remains the most dominant social media platform.
Diversification seems to be Facebook’s strategy to increase its domination back to its glory days. In a leaked audio reported by The Verge, Facebook talks about other social platforms and its strategy to compete with them.
[TikTok is] almost like the Explore Tab that we have on Instagram.Mark Zuckerberg in a leaked audio.
He was also heard saying, “We have a product called Lasso that's a standalone app that we're working on, trying to get product-market fit in countries like Mexico ... We're trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where TikTok is not already big before we go and compete with TikTok in countries where they are big."
The power of Facebook lies in its network effect.
People are on WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook because most other people are on the same platform. It is not easy for new platforms offering better services to get millions of people to switch unless they’re outright better.
Even then, Facebook has the fiscal power and experience to roll out features of competitors, like it is currently doing.
In light of Facebook losing credibility, it is a smart strategy to diversify its offerings to consumers in order to hold on to their attention. In recent months, Facebook has been in the spotlight for its actions, the power Mark Zuckerberg holds over the company’s direction, as well as its potential political impact.
While Facebook and its subsidiary apps are still dominant in most markets, government regulations are the strongest powers that can control its potential impacts.