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Why Sites Like Facebook Have No Staying Power

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Facebook may now be King, but it is not the nature of the Internet for anything to last forever. Social networks like Facebook and Groupon are as easy to spot as a car in LA traffic.

The face of social media is changing. Recent studies show that the average age of Facebook users has increased to the low-mid 30s. The student crowd that once couldn’t wait to sign up for the newest and coolest social experience is growing up. Needs are changing as more mature users value function above fun. As this shift continues, as it most certainly will, networks will start scrambling to avoid the digital graveyard of sites past. There’s no reason Facebook couldn’t be the next Myspace.

With over 800 million active users, is it possible Facebook has finally reached its critical mass in Canada and the United Sates? Statistics say yes. The social network is starting to see its numbers drop, losing 6 million U.S. users in May of this year alone. Though this 4 percent decrease might not seem especially alarming, no percentage is minuscule when noting lower growth numbers in back-to-back months.

Granted, critical mass is what has brought us together in this new age of social media. However, do we perhaps hold the strength to someday be more powerful than critical mass itself? If social media isn’t a core part of your career or livelihood, you may even be closer to social media overload.

Just as is in anything in life, once we get used to things we like, we find them less interesting later. In a world where IPhone fanatics brave wind and rain to get their technology fix, and others set 3 a.m. alarms to check their email, any old-style interface is as good as dead.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan and user of Facebook. But in a market of ideas that oozes possibility, who couldn’t help but be excited for the next best thing. Today’s investors are hungry to fund good ideas. But the key factor is – you must get on board early. With a new spirit of entrepreneurship and cash flow, we’re going to see some interesting social media alternatives emerge over the next several years. While original investors of Facebook, Groupon, and the like are sitting pretty on their colossal pile of success, the time to invest in these sites has long passed.

The first phase of the Worldwide Web was all about providing information. The second, and still main, phase is connecting people to one another. The successful platform that has prompted this social circle will continue to encourage the Net’s innovative spirit as the old makes way for the new.

Will these sites be hard to compete with? Absolutely. Will they be hard to replace? 100 percent. But while there’s always a temptation to succumb to the familiar, the reward of stepping outside the box can sometimes be so much more satisfying.

Frank Anderson blogs and writes about technology and social media. He also spends much of his time with servers and virtual web hosting customers at his day job.

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