Facebook has been in the news a lot lately ahead of it - today - becoming a publicly traded company on the stock market. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought in light of both that, and also a new statistic just out suggesting that as many people use Facebook today as used the Internet in 2004. Crazy.
Despite the growth of both Twitter and Google+, neither of these have come close to the level of ubiquitous use that there is of Facebook.
Everyone (more or less) uses Facebook; niche groups use Twitter and Google+. And in that sense, Facebook has become almost like email. It is now - socially at least - the default means of communicating and staying in touch with people.
But rather like email in the workplace, Facebook has gone from being a new, exciting means of communication to something you feel you have to use. Just like email, the joy has gone. We’d like a better alternative (lots of us tried Google+), but we don’t see one. We’d like to drop Facebook in the same way we wish we could scrap email—but we can’t. We don’t really have a choice.
The challenge for Facebook is to discover if they can keep making money when - for so many of us - using Facebook is a function rather than a joy.