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The Stone Age didn't end for lack of stone

News broke this month of a slowdown in Facebook's growth in the US.

The usual doubts arise in the wake of such an announcement. Are we past the peak? Are we getting tired of social networking? Was it all a fad?

Facebook is so prominent that news about the social network has a ripple effect. The news affect community building initiatives on Facebook itself but also elsewhere. Facebook has become the poster child for the power of social networking, so much so that all kinds of initiatives, even projects to introduce social business design into companies' internal processes, suffer when Facebook experiences a hiccup.

We have been here before: In 2007, doubts about social business initiatives flared up when Facebook experienced a drop in traffic. Growth swiftly resumed to propel the social network to more than 50 million users before the end of 2007. Today, the worldwide number of users is approaching 700 million.

As Facebook grows larger, continued growth is harder to attain and we may see the service settle into a steady state which could still be profitable. The possibility also exists that Facebook's popularity may be eclipsed by another service, just like MySpace before it.

We would do well to recall that "The Stone Age didn't end for lack of stone". Social Business is a far larger sea change than any single service no matter how popular and we will continue to see innovative new applications of social business principles leading to profound new ways of working and engaging with customers.

To be sure, Social Business as a term will start to decline one day, just as Enterprise 2.0 has probably peaked and is being subsumed into the former. But the principles and the dynamics will continue to develop and deliver personal and business value.

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Comments

James Dellow

Good point. However, Facebook (as with all social networking platforms), does have competition for attention - e.g. tumblr http://chieftech.com.au/do-we-really-want-a-homogeneous-social-web

I was also reading Stowe Boyd's post about Zuupy rejecting Facebook as a platform here http://www.stoweboyd.com/post/5551265179/3-reasons-that-we-are-moving-away-from-facebook-as-a - more than anything, I think Facebook's challenge is still fundamentally about creating that happy medium between being a user platform and its business model (and putting it into practice). Size all bring challenges that smaller, niche networks don't have to deal with, like calls for greater regulation and trend towards being a defacto community utility.

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