Nov 24 2007

The gentrification of FaceBook

I first signed up for FaceBook about 8 months ago, interested in checking out the platform and to playing with the technology. I was happy to find a handful of my geek Boulder friends already there as well as a few colleagues and one or two college buddies. The TechStars guys (most of whom were under 25) were, of course, well established on FB already and happy to point me in the right direction (download this, pull your blog into your news feed, see your contacts this way, etc.).

Over the first few months I noticed some of my VC friends join up as well as more of the Boulder tech crowd. Then I started seeing a few more people from College and finally even some friends from high school ‘friending’ me. I’ve noticed over the last month or so that this trend is accelerating . . . quickly. And it’s not just older tech geeks – it’s anyone and everyone starting to jump on and sign up. While the overwhelming majority of FaceBook users are still college and just post college age (18-24) there’s real growth happening in the 34 and up crowd (FaceBook itself reports that its fastest growing segment is those over 25, but doesn’t break it out more specifically).

What does this all mean? I believe that at the moment, FaceBook is the most important platform on the internet. And while I’m sure that iGoogle and others will give it a run for its money, anyone looking for an audience online can’t ignore the 55 million and growing number of users on FaceBook (still doubling every 6 months). And while there are over 7,000 FaceBook applications, the growing number of older . . . I mean experienced . . . users suggests some different ways that publishers and app developers can and should target this demographic. This has implications for gaming, for recommendation engines, for book and movie advertising and reviews, for conferences, for the guys spamming my inbox incessantly with advertisements for Viagra and for just about anyone else who has a product or service to sell for the 35+ crowd.

The beauty of FaceBook as a platform is how broadly applicable it is to any demographic – the utility is a function of the people you are connected with rather than the application itself. This explains why we’ll see FaceBook usage accelerate, particularly across new demographics.