At SMX London earlier this year there was a social media panel on the final day taking lots of questions. One question was along the lines of “which social network will we be discussing this time next year – apart from Facebook, obviously”. The 64 thousand dollar question? Or the 500 million user question?
The answers were quite interesting, all were cautious, and there was no “Facebook, obviously”. It seems like Facebook has been around for ever, but it was only launched in 2004 and for many, Facebook is integral to their life – and they are heavy users. In January 2010 Facebook had a UK adult population reach of 51%, and the average person visited twice a day – for almost 30 minutes a time.
But even Facebook’s ubiquity and air of permanence was not enough to convince any of the panel that Facebook’s existence – in the medium to long term – was a guaranteed certainty. Indeed, when you look at the state of MySpace, which was THE social network just a couple of years ago, you see their point. And AOL’s $850 million investment Bebo was just sold for a “fraction” of its cost (estimates put the sale at around $10m-20m).
Don’t get me wrong – you most probably do need a Facebook presence, even more so now that some audiences think that Facebook IS the internet (so heavy is their usage), but you should check the “best before” date before making long term investments in any social media platform.