Brad Stone of the New York Times hits the nail on the head today when he writes of Facebook: “Only designated friends or people in users’ networks can see their full profile pages, in contrast to the chaotic freedom on MySpace, the site owned by the News Corporation that is Facebook’s main rival.”
Chaos vs. intelligent expansion. That seems to be the path that many fast-growing companies must choose from in the current environment, and Facebook appears to be charting a smart course through those waters.
The big news today is that Facebook is becoming somewhat of a media property as it enters the classified advertising market in competition with newspapers and Craigslist. It will be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out.
I, for one, am a strong believer in the notion that there are too many social networking options available today and that if a player in that space can roll together the best package of valuable features and establish a wide presence in the marketplace, it will come out on top. It is difficult currently to belong to all of the hot social networking groups currently available — MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. And plenty of other companies are attempting to introduce the social networking component to their own existing products and services. Or the countless niche social networks targeted at pet owners, PR professionals, and sports fans.
Facebook has pursued a policy of controlled growth, opening up gradually to new groups only after establishing a firm foothold in the markets it was already serving. This intelligent expansion policy should serve it well, especially if it continues to follow it as it grows its circle of offerings and audience. This just may be the social networking company of the future.