So yes, all of these numbers are impressive. And yet. Anything that gets this big tends to not remain astonishingly large forever. Tech bubble anyone? The Titantic? The premise of a social media site is that it’s a ‘hip’ place to hang out. But if that ‘hipness’ fades away for one reason or another – people start looking for other, more of-the-moment, cool places. Especially the trend setters. Like kids who don’t want to be updating their profiles on a network where mom, dad and maybe even grandma, grandpa and the family parakeet have joined the faithful.
Already there have been rumblings. In an August 26 article in the NY Times, Virginia Heffernan writes about the current ‘exodus’ from Facebook. She believes ‘It’s not your Facebook profile. It’s Facebook’s profile about you.’ And Heffernan also references the ‘coolness’ factor that originally brought people to Facebook. She believes that’s long gone.
A couple of short years ago, I used to belong to a social network called Tribe. Seemed like a good way to find out about stuff happening in the bay area. I spent a fair amount of time creating a profile, uploading photos and inviting friends there. Today I can’t even remember the last time I logged on to that site. And I was even on MySpace for a while, too, because of my band. But not any longer.
If anything contributes to the downfall of Facebook more than sheer size, it could well be over-commercialization. As the site continues to create more revenue opportunities, people may begin to push back or simply choose to leave. The real questions right now are: Where will they go? Where are the cool new social sites? The ones that let you separate friends from business connections. And let you choose specifically who can see your profile content and updates. And don’t share that content with every business that wants you and your friends as lifelong ‘fans’.
I think it will just be a matter of time. I think the smartest guys in the web room are working on them right now. See you there.