Friday, February 3, 2012

What comes after Facebook IPO?

While I was reading today's Wall Street Journal coverage of Facebook IPO, I started to think about what might be coming up for social networks after Facebook IPO.  If we were to make some broad prediction of social network trends, what would they be?

As Sheryl Sandberg outlined three clear trends, I think there are quite clear trends that will accelerate into post Facebook IPO era.  Here is what I see happening.
1. Rise of other contextual social networks

Although Facebook is the dominant social network, social network won't be ruled by one company alone.  Unlike PC OS market back in 1990's, there will be places for second, third and forth place winners.  In other words, there will be multiple social networking sites that will capture the user base.

Fred Wilson at Union Square Venture
thinks social networks are not
consolidating; I agree
As I have blogged earlier about whether there is room for other social networks, I think Facebook's success only increases the need for other contextual social networks where social connections can be more intimate.  Because social networks get its value from personal relationships with other members, depending on the type and strength of relationship represented by social network there are opportunities for a new startup.

Fred Wilson shared his view on this topic recently on his blog, and he sees the same trend.  Just like Facebook did not kill Foursquare but helped its growth as location-based social network, there will be increasing room for other social networking startups to enter the market leveraging untapped personal relationship. 

2. Enterprise adopting social network as business communication platform

It's no secret that Facebook has changed the way we communicate in our personal lives.  But most enterprises are still lagging behind in adopting the new communication paradigm, moving away from email and attachments.  As Facebook generation enters the workforce, enterprises will have no choice but to adopt real-time sharing based communication popularized by Facebook.  Existing enterprise communication infrastructures based on email will be largely obsoleted in the next several years, and those who lag behind in adopting social communication will have competitive disadvantage.

3. Everyone needs big data crunching tools

One thing that Facebook has been very successful in doing was to foster more sharing and more interaction. News feed, Fan page, Twitter-like instant update panel, and Profile timeline are all aimed at removing friction from sharing more data in faster and easier way.  All these sharing and increased volume of data everyone has to consume will create the need to surface the signal from all the noise.  Users will look for ways to organize the data so that important signals can be easily gleaned from the firehose of information.  Organizations will look for ways to predict the future by detect subtle changes in the aggregated firehose.

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