Social networking memberships are growing at an alarming pace! While the market leaders is still MySpace, the strong runner-ups lead by facebook is all set to conquer the minds of social animals around the world. MySpace is still having single digit subscription growth where as facebook registered a whopping 102% year-on-year growth to reach more than 20 million unique members.
Now, what does this number translate to? More than 20 million registrations, if you consider the recent growth rate, facebook is all set to hit the 100 million mark in less than 18 months (Refer to http://www.marketingcharts.com/ data). That kind of a user base will give facebook a unique advantage – after Google – to target that many readers with their ads. After three year of operations their revenue is standing at $150 million and that could potentially reach $1billion in the next 18 months!!!
This $1 billion comes ‘free’ as they don’t engage with a publisher network. Banner ads that are part and parcel of free member sign up is bread and butter for facebook. However if they have to match Google’s kind of revenue (even without SEM) in a few year’s time they need to engage their members better by offering them the a variety of other services – say blog/web hosting, huge storage space, more online applications etc. Another potential for facebook – and hence for members or publishers – is to charge the System Integrators that use their Web 2.0 applications to connect to facebook accounts. An improved ‘Adwords’ can be easily invented by facebook for their advertisers using the Social Network Marketing (SNM) and not SEM.
Among the social network sites, I think facebook is all set to make it BIG in the next two or three years! I only hope that they will come up with an ad publisher program to help us to make some money as well. Also, those who lost opportunity to see the Google growth story from ground-up, may wait and watch how facebook plays the game!