Facebook watch – it is still growing really fast

There is a long eulogy to Facebook on CNN today which should give heart to the company’s fans.  Here are some highlights:

  • They are adding 5m new members per week
  • Average time on the site is 169 minutes per month
  • Older people are now joining in droves – the fastest growth segment is women 55 and older – up 175% since September 2008

These are some big numbers.

Furthermore Zuckerberg is articulating a MASSIVE vision for the company (from CNN):

But Zuckerberg makes it clear to me that he’s still intensely focused on connecting the entire world on Facebook – only now his vision goes well beyond the site as a digital phone book. It becomes the equivalent of the phone itself: It is the main tool people use to communicate for work and pleasure. [Emphasis mine] It also becomes the central place where members organize parties, store pictures, find jobs, watch videos, and play games. Eventually they’ll use their Facebook ID as an online passkey to gain access to websites and online forums that require personal identification. In other words, Facebook will be where people live their digital lives, without the creepy avatars.

Wow.

Switching to the negative case, there are two obvious challenges for Facebook, which the article also covers.

Firstly – they need to start making profits at some point.  They have raised a whopping $400m already and that can’t continue indefinitely.  Facebook, along with the social media industry generally, would really benefit from some business model innovation.  It is something we are working on hard at WAYN and I’m sure Facebook have got some of their best people on it too.

Secondly – they need to stay fresh for the younger generation as the oldies join the site.  An unkinder version of this post might have been headed “Facebook hollowing out?”  The CNN article asserts that Facebook is relatively safe here because there isn’t a new site that the young and hip are flocking to – but (and I barely need to write this) they have clearly missed Twitter.  The growth there is phenomenal and I frequently hear people talking about abandoning FB for this new flavour of the month.

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