FB tombstone

Just as I finished reading the reports of the “death” of content marketing, and the “death” of websites, a new study from Princeton’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering predicts the extinction of Facebook.

The one thing that these doomsday predictions have in common is that they get a lot of media attention and spark lively conversations. And the bottom line is that this is exactly what they are designed to do.

The latest Facebook study is interesting on several levels. First, it was done by the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. (What do they have to do with social media?) Second, it relies on an epidemiologic model – or how disease spreads. Third, it uses the Google stats from MySpace in 2008 as the basis of the prediction. None of which lends much credibility to the study. Finally there has been no peer review of the study.

However, although the study and the results are questionable at best, most major media outlets have gleefully picked up the story with attention grabbing headlines. Time Magazine shouts: “Facebook is About to Lose 80% of its Users” and adds the sub-title: “Social Media is like a disease that spreads and then dies.”

One of the flaws of the study, of course, is that the difference in the online life of most of the world’s population has changed dramatically. In 2008, the first iPhones had been released barely a year before; iPads and other tablets would not burst onto the scene for two more years. Most of us thought social media was for kids.

If Facebook’s Model had remained similar to that of MySpace – a place for youngsters to share photos and music, check out cute girls (and boys) and make plans to meet at the local watering hole – this prediction might carry more weight. But Facebook has evolved (or mutated?)

For better or worse, it has become a powerful marketing platform containing demographic, geographic and psychograhic information on over a billion people. People today use the platform to stay in touch with family and friends, but also to make buying decisions about which plumber to use, what car they want to drive or restaurant they want to visit. Staying “connected” via Social Media today is a lifestyle, not a disease.