I was on a panel recently and I got asked the question, “Now that our moms are on Facebook, will we still use it?”
My answer is that yes, for the moment, we will continue to use Facebook. But we’re all a little more guarded now, aren’t we? Remember what happened when mom got on MySpace? We all fled to Facebook. Now mom is on Facebook and we’re all fleeing to Twitter. Mom will be Tweeting a lot sooner than she was friending on MySpace and Facebook. Mom is catching up fast!
The bigger picture is this. We’re building bigger social networks and getting farther and farther away from the people we really want to talk to. When Facebook first started, it was a place for just college kids to talk to other college kids. You were privileged to be part of this network. I had an intern show me what it was like to be on Facebook and I admit, I was quite jealous. Facebook was a response to MySpace, which had gotten way too big, too crowded, and in the words of those college kids, too annoying. Facebook was theirs.
Ask a college kid today if they still like Facebook and they’ll tell you they do. Because there is nowhere else to go. Sure, they Twitter, but it’s not the same. But ask that same college kid if they’d prefer Facebook was the way it used to be and they would let out a big sigh and say, yes!
Which is why I believe we will see a reversion of sorts in the social networking space. We will see smaller social networks created for segments of the population based on careers, demographics, ethnicity, location, education, etc. I often say that it is only a matter of time before we see PlumberSpace, a place for plumbers. Instead of tens of millions of people in this social network, there will be tens of thousands. Maybe less than ten thousand. But it will just be for plumbers. Mom definitely won’t want to hang out there. But plumbers will. Plumbers will go there to talk about plumbing. They’ll ask questions of each other like where do you buy your tools?, what is the solution to this problem?, should I incorporate and set up a 401K? Consider it crowdsourcing for handymen.
And it will be sponsored by Lowes or HomeDepot. It won’t be worth $2 Billion. It won’t go public. It will be a small and very targeted community. Smart advertisers will trip over themselves to get their wrenches and augers featured here.
Right now we’re all enamored with the big toys. Facebook is great because we’re reconnecting with people we haven’t spoken to since 3rd grade. But we’re also reconnecting with people from 3rd grade that we don’t want to remember. At some point soon, we’ll want to go to a place where we connect with only the people from 3rd grade that we want to connect with. A place like PlumberSpace.