In the infancy of the use of big data in marketing, we consider the “what” rather than the “why”. Two Princeton researchers have compared the spread of a virus to the life cycle of social media platforms. Call it the innovator’s dilemma, people’s need for the latest and greatest (fueled in part by the industry that is facing its consequences), our perception that anything on the Internet should be free, social media platforms are in a growth stage of a classic product lifecycle curve. Has the classic lifecycle of a product shortened so immensely that decline can happen over the next two years?
According to the Princeton researchers, this well may be the fate facing Facebook. The technical description of their research findings is:
“The last decade has seen the rise of immense online social networks (OSNs) such as MySpace and Facebook. In this paper we use epidemiological models to explain user adoption and abandonment of OSNs, where adoption is analogous to infection and abandonment is analogous to recovery. We modify the traditional SIR model of disease spread by incorporating infectious recovery dynamics such that contact between a recovered and infected member of the population is required for recovery. The proposed infectious recovery SIR model (irSIR model) is validated using publicly available Google search query data for “MySpace” as a case study of an OSN that has exhibited both adoption and abandonment phases. The irSIR model is then applied to search query data for “Facebook,” which is just beginning to show the onset of an abandonment phase. Extrapolating the best fit model into the future predicts a rapid decline in Facebook activity in the next few years.”
A more popular interpretation is:
“Facebook is about to be wiped out like a bad plague, losing 80 percent of its users by 2017, according to the latest doomsday study about Mark Zuckerberg’s social network.”
Some may cheer, some may mourn, but it’s all part of the ever-changing social media space.