Facebook sort of began in an anonymous way. It was this place where we could post some information about ourselves, sort of connect with our friends and possibly even meet new people.
But it wasn’t new, and it wasn’t even close to being big. It was tiny; inconsequential, even. There was Myspace and Friendster and a slew of other websites that promised to do the exact same thing: Connect you with people.
But then it started to grow. First, it spread to college campuses, then to high schools then, eventually, to everyone.
And now, it is the ubiquitous entity of the Internet. It literally exists almost everywhere simultaneously. If there’s not a share, like or Facebook Connect page somewhere on a website, it’s probably not a very popular one. And if it is popular, it’s missing out on a lot of opportunities to spread that popularity.
Simply put, Facebook is beginning to be at the center of all things Internet. Think about it. What’s the website you visit most frequently and spend the most time on in any given month? Now, think about the number of times you’ve first heard of news through the social network, and discovered music through Facebook.
Now, start thinking about what the Internet would be like without something like Facebook. Without a central location to share, comment, like, and joke around with your friends. A place without that social connection that began with AOL and evolved minimally since then. Then, Myspace started to develop a true social network, and Facebook sort of piggybacked off of that and even improved upon it in many regards.
Then, of course, there’s the addition of timeline. Timeline has brought the idea of Facebook as being the center of the Internet to the forefront. After all, some of us have been storing our digital memories on Facebook for years, so the addition of timeline only makes our experience of Facebook that much more profound. Essentially, with its addition, Facebook has become the sort of ‘daily world update’ that I don’t think even the founders could have ever envisioned it would become.
And all of this is just the beginning. Facebook wants to become a marketplace, too. The area of opportunity that hasn’t seen much success as of yet — Facebook’s marketplace — is certainly going to be one place in which Facebook focuses its resources on.
Better yet, there lies huge opportunity for Facebook in recreating the online shopping experience. See a nice shirt that your friend is wearing on Facebook? Buy it right there. Or music, movies, electronics — anything, really. Making it convenient for its users to buy goods through the website that they already spend a significant amount of time on wouldn’t just be smart for Facebook, it would also be hugely beneficial to other online retailers as well.
Still, in many ways, Facebook already is the epicenter of the Internet for some. Most businesses, in advertisements and such, often refer to their Facebook presences above their websites, because Facebook provides them with a much more convenient way to connect with their fans and, in turn, create customers.
When we meet somebody new, we don’t go home and follow them on Twitter or friend them on AIM, we do it on Facebook.
Facebook is our homepage without necessarily being our homepage. We just wander on over to it eventually, at some point during our web experience to catch up on everything.
And yet, this seems to still be the very beginning of Facebook’s rapid growth. It still seems that there are so many ways for the company to expand their influence and reach throughout the Internet.
And watching it grow is kind of frightening, but I don’t feel it’s necessarily a bad thing. Convenience is rarely ever a bad thing.