With 250 Million Users, This Is Not Your Son's Facebook Anymore!
Working its way to 1 Billion users, Facebook just reached the one quarter billion mark (250 Million), only three months after reaching its last milestone of 200 million in April. So with such exponential growth, why is there so much talk about people leaving this social network?
On July 15, 2009, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO updated the company blog with the following announcement:
- "So today as we celebrate our 250 millionth user, we are also continuing to develop Facebook to serve as many people in the world in the most effective way possible. This means reaching out to everyone across the world and making products that serve all of you, wherever you are—whether through Facebook Connect, new mobile products and the other things that we are building. We're grateful to have all of you with us, and we look forward to helping connect the next quarter billion people on Facebook."
Facebook claims that 70 percent of its users are outside the U.S. and that the site is available in 50 languages. The fact that it has such a large, and dedicated, user-base makes it a dream for advertisers. Add to the fact that users spend more than 5 billion minutes per day and the fastest demographic is those 35 years and older and you have the holy grail of target markets.
Facebook does not disclose revenue, but has said it expects to grow 70 percent this year. Board member Marc Andreessen recently said that Facebook could grow revenue from more than $500 million this year to billions within five years.
So with all this good news, what's all this 'Facebook Revolt' talk? In April, the cover story of New York Magazine told of people leaving the site for a variety of reasons - disagreement with the terms of service, distaste with the greed factor as Facebook begins to monetize the site and general uneasiness about revealing so much of one's personal data online.
In a quick recovery, Zuckerberg made a bold move. He turned the site into a democracy. by reinstating the former TOS and revoking Facebook's rights to user content when one deletes an account.
So what other turn-offs are bubbling up at Facebook? Well, for a social network that emerged from the hallowed halls of Harvard and a skewed younger demographic are we witnessing a slow exodus of the core group. According to iStrategyLabs, from January to July of 2009, the population of members over the age of 55 grew 513.7 percent with 16.5 percent fewer high-school users, and 21.7 percent fewer college users. Which naturally begs the question, where have all the cool kids gone, and is this the beginning of the end for the once-ultra-hip-hang-out site?
Is Facebook going through an identity crisis? After all, when you think about it, what teen or young adults (13 to 24-year-olds) want to hang out with their parents... or worse yet... grandparents?
But face it , while five years might not seem like a long time, in social networking years, it is a very long phase in the digital life of a social network. And over time, kids lose interest and rebel because it is their right of passage. If any one group can relate to that fact, it is the Boomers who were the most restless and rebellious generation to emerge since the 1920s. It's however ironic that the generation that fought the status quo are now making Facebook their commonplace habitat and are displacing their children in the process.
So while Facebook continues to reach milestone after milestone, it might be wise for that 25 year-old billionaire who started the company to rethink how he is going to replace the drop-offs to maintain future growth! Or has he lost touch with his core constituency? Wouldn't be the first time, Zuckerberg bit off the hand that feeds (see previous blog on 'Facebook, the Movie' to learn more about Mr. Zuckerberg's questionable beginnings).
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