Mark Lazen is bold on the idea that facebook might soon be on death watch. One of the main points is that Facebook is trying to be all things to all people. (Sort of like AOL a few years ago.) Which is supposedly the first step of being nothing to nobody, resulting in comparative irrelevance.
I am of a more cynical mindset. I believe that when you’re everything, you are actually nothing.
Right – and not, at the same time. Yes, there will always be more specialized sites for everything FB offers. Flickr is better for photos (in quality, not quantity!), twitter is better for realtime status updates. Many community sites are more topically focused, gaming sites offer better games,… the list can go on and on.
But yet: Spreading your digital acitivities and personas over x-many sites is tedious. Especially if you have different IDs (ok, there will be solutions) and different social networks everywhere. Trying out the top-notch applications everywhere is only fun for the digitally inspired early adopters. For everyone else, a good solution will just do. And believe me: the majority is “everyone else”.
In my own personal circle of friends, facebook is still growing, gaining new fans everyday. (And watching the newsfeed has only become interesting in the last couple of months, as my own network of friends grew.)
I am convinced that the digitally inspired (native or immigrant) underestimate the size and power of the late majority. These people (most of my friends amongst these) will praise those sites, that make a digital whatever easy with a one-stop-shop solution. Of course the quality of the applications and offers can’t be sub-optimal. And for certain topics of interest people might migrate to a specialised competitor. But the rest of their digital activities they might still keep at places like facebook or other sites like it.
The key factor is relevance: as long as facebook offers sufficient relevance, aggregated across all service offers, applications and the individual social network, it will stay top of mind with a large audience. The problem only arises, if facebook becomes second rate at everything they offer. Here I assume: the personal social network is the last resort of stickiness. As soon as your own social network has mostly migrated to other sites, you don’t care to stay either.
What do you think?