It seems to me the value of Facebook and MySpace and the other big social networking sites who have cashed in on huge valuations and venture capital is in the number of users they have signed up … but also how often and long those users use the service.
In other words, the key to success for them is getting a large audience using your service for long periods of time.
If you offer something of value and convenience, I think you can get them (me) hooked and addicted! Twitter is starting to do this for me, but I’m still not convinced yet.
Google, as I’ve mentioned before, does this by offering a ton of free awesome services to users so that they can keep the huge web traffic on their sites and consequently show ads to them.
And a huge bonus is if you have a customer demographic that marketers would drool over. Or maybe just everybody on the web!
But in terms of Facebook in particular we volunteer (“serve”) in our church’s college ministry. And the overwhelming majority of our kids use Facebook as their primary online communications tool. Some rarely use email in fact.
And we’ve found it’s the best way to keep up with them and also get the word out about events and things.
So naturally, my wife and I started using Facebook more and more so we could keep up with them. Then, business-minded people started using it. And I started a ‘Business’ group within Facebook to separate those contacts out a tad.
If you’ve followed this post’s conversation, then you know that Facebook has now given us one more reason to spend even more time on the site.
And since I use online chat programs predominently to communicate in my business (see Using Instant Messaging for Business), I’m looking forward to seeing what features Facebook Chat has too.
Update: While finishing this post, I got my first IM from a Facebook buddy!!!
By the way, I’ve mentioned in the past (How Facebook Could Rule My World) how one way Facebook could improve even more in helping me dedicate more time to it is by offering a Gmail-like email service, where you can have an actual email address and send notes to people outside of Facebook. (Like Hotmail did, they could even tag the bottom of outgoing emails and help drive more users.)
It would have to have Gmail-like spam protection …. large storage space … and the ability, again, to email non-Facebook email addresses. And an interface change might be in order for the Messages function.
OK, I’m off to chat….