I was talking with someone yesterday and they mentioned LinkedIn as a good business tool. This was an older gentleman who admitted that the whole social networking and social media industry was still a bit new to him. This made me think about who the typical users are of the various social networks. Given that I have tremendous telepathic abilities, TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb post similar stories about the traffic for the various social network sites.
So where is the familiar pattern that I talk about? It closely resembles the original ISP wars. So, everyone seems to be on MySpace. Nobody seems to know what to do with it, except for promoting bands which is very cool. It was bought by a company that had no really good reason to buy it and now it totally lacks any buzz. MySpace is the new AOL for social networks. Facebook has a younger more technically savvy membership due to its college roots. Facebook is growing and has some really cool features like the plugin/widget applications. Facebook is the Compuserve of social networks. As with the ISPs, there are various social networks as well. Some are mostly special purpose, like LinkedIn, and others are trying to become the “next” big player like Earthlink.
What does this mean? It looks like MySpace has gotten complacent over time. They are huge as can be seen by their traffic numbers. However, they missed Facebook’s explosion which is due to its’ flexibility and extendability. It really does seem that Facebook will win that battle. However, general purpose social networks do not seem to have significant uses. The specialized networks will continue to grow as users look for more information in their niche. Many industry “experts” admit that LinkedIn is doing very well as a business network, and they can continue to slowly add features. Other networks will also grow or wane depending on the whim of the internet. Given the size of Facebook and MySpace, they will be the drivers for the near future. What significant features and functionality will they include? Is the big business play going to be social advertising? Is advertising the only real potential income stream? What do you think?