The biggest tech story of 2009 has to be the astounding growth of the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. After disposing of rival MySpace in 2008, Facebook now achieves figures comparable to Google – around 130 million unique visitors daily and over 350 million registered users, adding a staggering 500,000 users every day. Yet this story was overshadowed (in hype at least) as Twitter hit the mainstream and finished the year with around 20 million unique visitors daily and an estimated 12 million registered users.
These two companies show little sign of slowing down, but I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that 2010 will be the year that users begin to move away from social networking sites and back to the ancient art of blogging. Here’s why …
Two things will happen in 2010;
- Facebook will go public.
- Twitter will be bought (probably by Google after a bidding war with Facebook) .
It is not the action of going public or being bought that will turn users away – but the news reports of huge sums of money being paid for our content should be a penny-dropping moment for a lot of people. Let’s say Facebook raises $5 billion in an IPO (even in a depressed stock market this should be a relatively conservative estimate) that values each user at roughly $15 per user or $40 per active user. If the creators of Twitter cash out for the bargain price of $0.5 billion that values each user at $40 per user. $40, $15, hell, even $10… doesn’t the thought pop into your head, “Hey, that’s my $10 goddamn it!” And in a round about way it is.
If you are writing a note about your favourite foods – why shouldn’t you get paid for the weight loss ads? If you’ve just finished a really good book – why shouldn’t it be your affiliate link to Amazon? Even without the advertising and monetising angle … why should you be building value for a third party when you could be investing equity in your own business or in your own brand?
In 2010, I predict we will see old blogs revived and new blogs created by people keen to take control (and take advantage) of their own content. Status updates will originate on personal websites and then be broadcast to Twitter and Facebook or directly to Google. Photos may be hosted on Facebook or Twitpic or Posterous but the reference and discussion will take place on the blog. Farmville won’t be a pixelated pig, it will be a short video of a backyard and a poll on what to grow this season. OK, that last one may be wishful thinking.
Facebook and Twitter will still be important platforms – Facebook will still be a valuable tool for friends and family to keep in touch and Twitter will still be useful for unearthing the latest news stories and gossip – but the most active and prolific content creators on these sites will seek to change the focus back to their own personal websites. Indeed, some would argue this is already the case for Twitter – it’s role in marketing and link building has eclipsed it’s early life as a way for geeks to meet up at SXSW.
“What are you doing?” Come to my blog and find out.