Just as more and more people are discovering Facebook, observed by the number of friend requests I get from colleagues , I am already beginning to wonder if the end has begun for Facebook. Not only has Facebook struggled and not shown a single compelling model to make money they are also struggling to keep people engaged for any period of time. Some of my latest research with over 100 social power users under the age 25, that I have observed follow and set the trends in social media, have begun alluding that they are spending less and less time on Facebook and on average less then 2 minutes at a time. They may still “check” it several times a day but again only a short burst. This does not bode well for advertisers because the future of advertising on the web will rely more on integrated efforts as opposed to banner ads or static advertising as we see today.
On top of all that Facebook does not have history on its side. If history proves true that once a market, in this case the market is social networking, reaches maturity it moves from standardization to segmentation. In short the market fragments. This is exactly what I think will happen with social networks. I have said before and still believe that social networks will number 1) become more community centric then networking centric and 2) much more focused or specialized.
All of that being said I am not sure what the future holds for Facebook. Facebook is at a number of crossroads and they need to figure out very quickly how to re-engage with people and keep them engaged by making it possible to have meaningful relationships with another human. This is the difference between a networking mentality and a community mentality. I particularly have not seen or heard a shred of visionary thinking from any top exec at Facebook that leads me to believe they have any clue where they are going. I am also quite excited about a few other communities that are popping up, which will remain nameless as they are in stealth mode currently, that may very well demonstrate what the future of online communities may look like.