The growth of social networking

By 2011 about half of U.S. online adults and 84% of online teens will be using social networks. This according to eMarketer. What this points to is an evolution or a continuing evolution of children who currently are becoming aquainted with and more comfortable with, “How social networks work”. This also points to the greater value that adults will put in their social network. “Their” being the operative word.

Furthermore, this raises a very poignant question. Though Facebook and Myspace are the darlings of the moment, can they continue the momentum that they can surely take credit for? Will they be “The” players in 3 years?

As it is right now today the evolution for most users looks something like this:

Club Penguin/Webkinz—->Myspace—->Facebook—-Linkedin.

I use Linkedin as the last one for professional reasons but really after Facebook, the usage fractures into a 100 different niche based social networks. This usage in the next 3 years will continue to evolve into hundreds of other social network sites.

My educated guess, though they (MySpace and FB) will still be viable, there will be others that will come along, if they have not already, that provide more to their niche than the current duo do. Here is the reasoning. Myspace is for teens/bands and tire-kickers and fringe users. Facebook is for college aged and older users who have more of a familiarity with the social network and all that it can provide.

So in 3 years when your current crop of Facebook users for instance, graduate and possibly outgrow the Facebook newness/coolness factor what do they do then?  What do adults who are currently using Facebook do in 3 years? The same thing I suspect that AOL users did once they found out that AOL wasn’t the only game in town. Everything will evolve. Including the knowledge and expereince of the users. Thus the reason that by 2011, social networks will be so entertwined in our daily lives that it will be assumed that you are part of some SN.

The good news, and really none of this is bad news, but worldwide Ad spending will increase at a healthy 20-39% each year between now and 2011 according to eMarketer. In the U.S. alone social network ad spending is expected to rise to $2.7 billion in 2011. Currently the pie is being divided naturally towards Facebook and MySpace, but look for that to change significantly with the growth of niche and marketer oriented sites.

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