3 Reasons Facebook Can’t Figure Out Mobile

By: Mallorie Rosenbluth

In the world of social media, it seems to many that Facebook is the industry’s golden child. Even when the network compromises user privacy, makes sudden and confusing changes, and gets villainized in a major Hollywood production; users still flock like moths to a flame. Over 8 years and 900 million users later, the entire world is enthralled (and slightly addicted) to this social network. Yet, despite Facebook’s unwavering popularity and do-no-wrong status, the one area it can’t quite figure out is mobile. And in a world where our smart phones are our life lines, this seems to be an issue the big wigs at Facebook should be taking note of. While the team there has made considerable advancements and updates to the mobile application, introduced an app store, and bought one of the fastest growing mobile-based companies for a whopping billion dollars; the reigning kings of social media still can’t create a mobile strategy that actually works. Here’s why:

1) The .com and the mobile don’t work together - Facebook is a company that constantly innovates and introduces new features. Its ability to evolve, adapt, and set the pace for new social media and digital technology advancements is astounding. But it seems that the web team and the mobile team never get in the same room to discuss what the other is doing. Timeline was the announcement at last September’s F8 conference. Their hottest feature doesn’t stand a chance at integrating with mobile. Applications, contests, and live chat are all web features companies and marketers go crazy for. They don’t work in mobile or are clunky and frustrating at best. Even their advertising platform hasn’t made the mobile strides it needs to to be a game changer. Facebook is not short on innovation or advancements, but until these features translate to mobile, they’ll continue to fall short.

2) They’re missing the mobile MO - the reason mobile applications / networks work is because they’re simple. Think about it. Twitter, Instagram, and Foursquare are all networks that have one main purpose (sharing short snippets, photos, or your most recent location). Call me dense, but I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to do with Facebook’s mobile app. What is that one reason that makes us take out our phones anytime we find ourselves with a moment to spare and open the Facebook app. If it’s to scroll through a news feed, I think Facebook is selling us short.

3) They don’t play nice with others - Again, look at the success (and heck, Facebook bought them for BILLION dollars) of Instagram. Besides just being a really clean, simple and focused application, Instagram also integrates seamlessly with other networks. Connect your Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Tumblr once, and you can share your photos anywhere you want. I never open my camera while I’m using any of those other sites, but I share photos to them via Instagram all the time. With Facebook’s mobile app though, you can’t connect anywhere else. It houses mobile activity, it doesn’t help or encourage users to create it.

What do you think of Facebook’s mobile strategy? Will the Facebook mobile app ever take off? Let us know in the comments!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisdauntless Chris Sonia

    Facebook is trying to figure out mobile ad space as well. Maybe a feature ad at the load-in screen might make it easier to sell space and update the app

  • http://twitter.com/DevinSugameli Devin Sugameli

    Good post! Especially like your point re: opening the app to scroll through a newsfeed. Doesn’t make sense to have the mobile app revolve around the newsfeed the same way the site does. If anything, it should default to a newsfeed of “important updates only” like people getting married, birthdays, etc (text-only so it loads faster) and/or your own notifications. If people want more they can click though, but I see no reason for me to wait 60 seconds for the app to figure itself out when I first open the damn thing.

  • Craig Roloff

    Very frustrating that many of or Fans engage with our business page using their mobile devices and get only a portion of the experience. I want to interact with users on the go, not users that are sedentary at a desktop computer. 

  • Mike McKenzie

    Of course they will. Neccessity isn’t just the mother of invention. It’s one hell of a motivator.

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