According to a recent survey, Facebook has been named “the world's most valuable brand.” I am sure that this is a reason for a round of applause. I am sure that the big boys down at Facebook, Inc. are pretty proud of themselves, even if almost 10% of the profiles on Facebook are fake or held by a holder of another profile. And, even though the stock has plummeted since being listed, it probably helps to elevate the ego of those who have designed a product that has literally drained the productivity out of millions of individuals. In this dubious survey, Facebook beat out other companies; companies that create real tangible products. It's quite amazing to think that a passing fancy is said to be the world's most popular brand. And, yes, Facebook is a passing fancy.
Like MySpace before it, Facebook can not hope to remain relevant for as long as say, Coca-Cola or Apple. Unlike many other successful companies, Facebook has just one product, the (a)social network that acts as a temporal vampire, draining out one's time and productivity. Draining one's living hours on the Earth. Coca-Cola has many products, products that are craved universally by people all over the world. Apple has multiple products that are in tangible form. While one could argue that Apple products are perhaps a “fad,” the reality is that computer equipment and programs will probably be relevant for quite some time. They provide utility to the world. Facebook arguably provides only negative utility in the sense that it drains time away from people that tend to obsess over it.
Further, Facebook's success hinges on its popularity. Once the site becomes unpopular, the stock will plummet further. And there is no doubt that Facebook's popularity has reached a pinnacle, at least in the United States and Europe. While Facebook can enter new markets and ride on its hype for a while, the reality is that people eventually get bored of creating and babysitting an internet profile. People get sick of fighting with others on the internet and feeling anxious when they see something that they don't agree with being posted. People do not like the negative feelings that are brought up when they see others bragging about “perfect” lives that they may or may not have.
Further, internet addiction is being seen as a legitimate form of addiction. At one time addiction research stated that even sex could not be addictive. However, as time passed, society has come to realize that many products can provide their users with obsessive and addictive behaviors. Many people try to shy away from things that are addictive. To label something as addictive tarnishes its image. The reality is that Facebook is a very addictive website that has caused incredible damage to many individuals.
There are stories everywhere of people leaving Facebook. If you are still on the site, ask yourself how many of your friends have left over the past year. I am always surprised to see how many people actually are starting to come forward and claim that they no longer use Facebook. It is proof to me that the site is on its decline. That being said, (a)social media is still a huge industry, and people will move to a new site once it pops up. It's only a matter of time before something bigger and “better” than Facebook hits the scene, and I would not want to be holding Facebook stock when that happens.
The world's most valuable brand? I don't think so, and even if Facebook (or any (a)social networking site) is the world's most valuable brand, it won't be for long. The creators of the survey forgot that part of value is expected future value. Facebook's expected future value is unknown. The site could be vaguely spoken of in five to ten years. Do you think people will still be talking about Facebook in twenty years? I do think, however, that General Motors, Pepsi, and McDonalds will still be around in that time, likely to be just as strong as they are today. With that in mind, is Facebook really the world's most valuable brand?