Will Facebook replace [Insert social media tool here]?

I’ve just joined Facebook. I like it. I’ve made all the same friends that I have on other social networking sites like Ning and tools like Twitter. But there’s a big difference – Facebook has broader penetration, beyond the technorati (with a small t). Certainly in terms of monthly traffic it outshines most social media tools. Now that Facebook is allowing all-comers, I’m wondering how it will impact the use of those other services.

For example, how does the Status Update differ from Twitter? It allows more characters, it has a historical page of prior updates, you can see the updates of your friends and it’s mobile. It also doesn’t suffer from the asynchronous nature of Twitter where you can follow someone but they don’t follow you, so can’t hear your counterpoints. If you are friends on Facebook, the conversation is bi-directional.

The granularity of information you can share on Facebook is also frightening. Quite apart from political views and relationship details which it prompts you to answer, you can also detail your full education and your work experience. There are groups galore for each institution, organization, employer, club, association or interest. Since people join for personal reasons, adoption levels are going to be much higher than for professional social networks, such as LinkedIn. Already, in just a few days, my Facebook invites are outstripping my LinkedIn connection requests. Both have the ability to upload your email contacts to find them on Facebook. At the moment, I have more LinkedIn penetration among my contacts, but I’m sure that will change. Will we be keeping track of our professional and social contacts on Facebook?

I’m sure I’ll find more applications. The Send Message function (like Twitter’s Direct Message) also looks like a good web email client, again without the character restrictions and with the ability to add attachments.

Experienced Facebookers may of course know all this, and have probably discovered many more applications which I’m yet to encounter. Let me know what else I’m missing.

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  • The great attraction of Facebook was it was nice and clean, and not the ‘car crash’ style of Myspace – but with more apps coming on every day – its looking messier and messier – so where do we go next?

  • I just checked out Facebook on the basis of your post. It’s a bit clunky to find friends if you are not attached to a company or college etc – you have to search via company or uni etc: but I expect that’s because it was built for those kinds of networks and not individuals. eg. I searched for you but could only find you if I entered the name of your company network.
    I do like the Facebook interface compared with MySpace for being cleaner and it does seem to have a lot of applications. So it has a lot of advantages but I find the friend search facility a barrier – but then perhaps it’s meant to be?

  • Hi Jamie – that’s a great point. Looking at usage, it’s clear that people are trying out lots of the new apps, but then uninstalling them eg Traxzor looked promising but didn’t seem to do much.
    Yang-May – you can upload your address book from Gmail or from Outlook. That helps you find the people you already know. The manual way is a bit time-consuming I agree, so try this group invite.