I am just putting the finishing touches on the 2nd Edition of Facebook Marketing for Dummies (Wiley) with my co-author Rich Krueger (and BTW we have sold over 20,000 copies in less than a year!). We also just completed Facebook Advertising for Dummies (Wiley) which is due to ship in November. And a question I get asked in every meeting when I present social media is – “so who is going to become the next Facebook?” and I am here to tell you – No one and here why …
Facebook has currently grown to over 550 million members which is one out of every 3 internet users! Mark Zuckerberg is calling for 1 billion member mark and I believe they will hit that mark sometime before the end next year (you heard it here first people!). Facebook also overtook Google in page views just recently. In my Top 10 B2B Marketing Predictions for 2010 blog post last year I called that day to be February 14, 2010 (betting on the social activity that the holiday brings) but I was actually 2 months late – the first time Facebook surpassed Google was on Christmas day 2009. It took until this August for them to sustain the page view count and surpass Google for good.
Ok so that is a look at membership and traffic but the part that I think really closes the door on any up and comer is their Business Model. Facebook is currently running 3 business models – any one of which you or I would die for and they happen to have them all under one roof.
- Ads – Facebook Ads is a business model similar to Google AdWords (which is one of the best ad models out there) but it takes that ad platform to the next level. You can target behaviors and explicit likes from a member’s profile. It can be 1:1 advertising or it can be one to many who share common likes for example – Male, Married, lives in CT, likes to Sail, likes to eat Sushi, and listen to Dave Matthews – and bingo your ad would appear on my page.
- Applications – Facebook Applications is a business model similar to Apple App Store (which is a pretty darn good business model too!). Like Apple, Facebook takes a percent of the revenue for each application which if they are correct – there will be tremendous upside in this model as developers build applications specifically for their platform.
- Commerce – Facebook has been flirting with a business model similar to eBay (yet another killer business model). They are currently locked into a 3 year agreement with oodle.com that runs their marketplace but once that is up next year – I believe – they will ditch them for a more “store front” model similar to Yahoo Shopping or eBay.
Much like Lycos or Altavista or even Yahoo there were search engines that came before Google but Google closed the door on them. I am here to tell you that Facebook is in the same position as they make everything more social by sticking the “like” button on everything and adding mobile features. There is no challenger on the market right now that can take on Facebook (yes, not even Google) for the front runner in the social networking space. I believe they have left the realm of social networking long ago and they are now working on a social operating system for the web. So if you haven’t opened your Facebook account personally or for your business yet – what are you waiting for – like it or not Facebook isn’t going away anytime soon!
(Written on the eve of the launch of the movie The Social Network)