Folllow up on my post Why Facebook is better than Myspace
Facebook has the opportunity to do something that very few other companies have the opportunity to do: Literally grow and mature with their users.
Many kids, high school and younger, start off with social networking sites like Myspace and Piczo. As high school kids get to college, a great social pressure pushes them to move on to Facebook. "Like, totally, Myspace and Piczo were so senior year of high school. We're all on Facebook now!" These users may keep their old accounts to keep track of their old friends, but chances are that most of these high school friends will move on to Facebook as well. It is a right of passage, and it would be uncool not to follow the rest of the crowd.
These users then spend four years of college interacting with all their new college friends (on campus) as well as their high school friends that are now at other colleges (off campus). The Facebook addiction is reinforced by the collegiate atmosphere. "Facebooking" someone has become a standard part of the college experience and it has 4 years to sink in.
Now, as users graduate college and begin to outgrow their college needs (i.e. Where's the party? What was that cute girl's name? What are people doing this summer?), they will continue to use Facebook to interact with the people they met in college, but now they're going to need a whole new set of tools as they face the real world. They are young professionals now, and the priorities will change.
One problem was, "Wow! I have a lot less time now, I can't spend hours keeping up with people on Facebook." Problem solved. Facebook news feeds, though polemic, take care of that in one fell swoop. I can log in, and directly on my front "home" page I can see the last days worth of activity from my friends. Sneak a peak at work, or scan it for a few minutes every night when you get home, and you can catch snippets of all your friendsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ lives.
Next, I need to get my non-Facebook friends on Facebook. I am right in the gap where people any older than me did not catch the Facebook wave, so in order to not be stuck communicating with just the younger crowd, I've got to get everyone into Facebook. Well, Facebook is one step ahead and already took care of that by opening their network, and extending it to the workplace. They've even gone a step further by enhancing their picture posting functionality and offering a notes/blog feature for you to publish things to your friends.
These features are definitely a sign of Facebook growing with their audience. At the same time I've even noticed the generation gap being closed. People that were older than me in college and missed the Facebook trend are signing up for accounts as they realize they can reconnect with everyone. Reaching out beyond the "college only" crowd could greatly expand FacebookÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s user base, and hopefully theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll do this in such a way that it doesn't alienate the college crowd, which is their core base.
From what I can tell so far, they are not relaxing any of the visibility privileges, and Facebook for colleges is still retaining its exclusivity. They need to do what MySpace can't seem to avoid, and that's keep out the creepy people.
Now that they still have the users attention in their new professional lifestyle, they need to take the next step and move into the enterprise/job space. Time to compete with the Craigslists, indeed.com, Monsters, Jobsters, and Linkedins. Not only can they compete with them, but also they have the opportunity to do it right. None of these sites have a strong and as demographically focused social network around it as Facebook, even if Facebook can touch the same number of people as Craigslist. In a recent post Steve Poland, a blogger at TechCrunch, writes about how bad current job websites are. He says,
In all honesty, finding a job online sucks. Indeed and SimplyHired have taken it to the next level by aggregating all jobs into one search, but I want to see a company come out and eHarmony-ize the job market. Make it so candidates go through a 15- to 30-minute application process that might include various tests related to their claimed skillsets. Allow recruiters to specify what skillsets are required and make them somehow rank the importance of the required skillsets.
I'd also like to see some social networking aspects along the lines of LinkedIn allow people to refer their friends to jobs. Yahoo! could integrate HotJobs with their 360 service. Monster.com could integrate with the Facebook API to add some social networking. IAC has put a hault on acquisitions, but a jobs website seems like a good addition to their extensive consumer portfolio Ã¢â‚¬â€ their own Ask.com search engine doesn't offer a vertical job search. Possibly an Indeed or SimplyHired acquisition?
LinkedIn never worked for me because there was no focus in my social network. On LinkedIn I have a few random people from a variety random encounters I've made in a variety of separate social networks. I don't share a strong connection with these people and I don't use Linkedin on a regular basis. Every once and a while I check the site when I realize that someone new I know is on LinkedIn, or that I need to update my profile/resume (which I haven't done in months). But it doesn't nearly have that stickiness Facebook does, which it could easily apply to provide the critical mass needed for a liquid professional job search/job referral site.
Whats the next question? Are these companies worth all this money?
Here are a few resources I've found on the topic so far, and I'll do a full post on this sometime soon.
- Facebook vs You Tube? (hey, it's nice to think someone's comparing you to a company acquired for over a billion)
- Investors were cheated by Murdoch buyout, MySpace founder says
- Friendster even had a shot
- Red Herring's "Face Value" 10.09.06 (couldn't find the article online)