It’s no secret, Facebook is bursting with new users. Back in September 2006, there was a lot of discussion about whether or not Facebook had peaked, but it is becoming obvious that facebook is just getting started, and there are a few markets that need to be worried.
In the next year, facebook will no only double again in users, but it will start to “monetize” it’s users in serious ways.
* Online Dating is going to be massive for Facebook. They won’t explicity build a dating portion of the site, but will concentrate more on letting people have discrete conversations. The Poke is just the beginning! It’s also going to be free and Identity is not going to be nearly as much of an issue: a lot of people want to reconnect with people from their hometown if possible, and if not, it is much easier to date someone you found through your own friends than it is to date someone who randomly sends you a message on lavalife.
To get started, Facebook will add a “Share” option to Profiles. That way I can share one friend with another. Sounds creepy right? So did instant messenger when people first used it.
* Twitter is going to have a long, painful, fight against Facebook in the Social Presence world. As Facebook builds out it’s API, more and more users will regularly update their status. Because Facebook has all of your contacts already, and is getting more and more efficient at importing Gmail, Outlook and other contact databases. If there was a Twitteriffic equivalent for Facebook, I would have switched already.
* Business Networking has been dominated by LinkedIn, but the problem is that Linked-In is generally useless. It turns out that a hyper networked group of people still need a reason to be networked, and Linked-In is not getting anyone laid. Facebook provides a better measure of each person’s real social network.
* If you look at my facebook profile, it is full of my closest current friends, but also people I have befriended since I was 2 years old. Each stage and change in my life is documented on Facebook and each person is dear to me in some way.
* Long term sustainability is critical for any site, and I could lose Linked-In tomorrow and I wouldn’t be missing much, but I would truly miss the world that Facebook has left open to me.
* Online Photo Sharing has always been a big market, but if you are under 30 now, and aren’t a Flickr user (you all should be), then the only place you put your photos online is on Facebook. They will start doing some of the cheesy print-and-ship deals, but will be clean and classy about it.
* Recruiting will be the strongest profit center for Facebook if they can do it without appearing to “sell out”. The important thing for facebook users will be that they can control what parts of their profile and network they share with the recruiter. If they don’t want you to know that they are friends with 24 people in the Hell’s Angels network, then you won’t know, you also won’t see the pictures from the party they were at last week. You will, however, see the full list of courses they took at university and the 10 interest groups they are a member of such as “UWO Buzz Marketing Group” — they’ll make sure of that.
* MySpace has dominated with music, Facebook could easily push MySpace aside at the end of this year, with a Music Discovery feature and Band Pages being the final blow.
You won’t see Facebook doing many deals in the next few years. While they are still nimble and evolving, you will see a lot of creativity and change come from within. They’d rather build than partner.
I would also be surprised if Facebook was acquired by anyone, at any price at any time. In my world, and way of thinking, there is no doubt that the social side of the web is going to create the next Google or Microsoft, and it is just a matter of when and who, not if. Facebook has a scalable model which, unlike MySpace, becomes more useful and intuitive as more people use it, rather than more confusing and cluttered.