If networking is defined as â€œexpanding one’s social network or sphere of influence by initiating mutually advantageous new relationships with people,â€� then the majority of Facebook users are not networkers.
It’s clear to me in analyzing the current trends in Facebook use, that networking — despite popular belief — is not a core activity among users. For example, try sending someone you don’t know a friend inviteâ€¦more than likely you will get turned down. Do you accept invites from people you don’t know? Probably not. Instead people use their favorite social utility to keep in touch, manage and organize relationships they already have established in their offline environment.
How does this impact you as a user? Think monetization. What’s more valuable to you: Meeting a new friend or keeping up with an old one? Think of it this way â€“ if you were single and I said I could introduce you to hundreds of like-minded guys or gals interested in meeting people just like you â€“ would you pay for that? Now think, would you pay to keep track of your ex’s?
My point is simply that â€˜utilities’ that build and expand relationships may in fact be better routes for monetization than utilities that help maintain and manage. To me, a new opportunity is something worth paying for.
Facebook users’ penchants for utility over networking suggest a few things:
1) Facebook is a VERY powerful/valuable application if people are using and trusting its tools to manage the most personal information/relationships in their lives (no brainer)
2) Facebook’s internal activity (maybe growth) could be more limited than other social networks assuming people are not interested in expanding outside their immediate social circles
3) The opportunity for another social network that emphasizes meeting new people and expanding your sphere is obvious. LinkedIn is well positioned but needs to step up
4) Outside of the big guys, niche social networks (which seem to have been forgotten about recently) still can play a valuable marketplace role by connecting and introducing like-minded people, who can later manage their wonderful new offline friendships on Facebook