Just weeks into my freshman year at college in Connecticut this girl who lived just two doors down from me quickly peeked her head into my dorm room and said, “Hey Jimmy, friend me on facebook!” Confused, I searched for ‘facebook.’ The homepage came up and it needed my e-mail and a password. And that is how college started for me: I was a first-year member of the Facebook Generation.
Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard friends/roommates changed social media forever in their dorm. Launching in 2004, thefacebook.com was new, yet simple. Just as “The Social Network” amused, it was initially great because it was a cool, new way to communicate with our fellow students and was especially beneficial for us on the more shy side of ‘talking’ with girls without making formal dates for every quick or random conversation throughout the day. Like I said, it was new and very cool. Each time you saw a “1″ by the message or friend icon, you wondered if it was from that girl you just met in the back row of anatomy class not twenty minutes earlier (true story). There was a thrill to this new site. As Zuckerberg said in the movie, “We don’t even know what it is yet…that’s a priceless asset I’m not willing to give up.”
Now, everybody and their grandmother knows what it is. Enter the problem. The problem with the stock is not surprising as everybody is discussing and analyzing its ceiling of capabilities. Facebook is not a traditional Fortune 500 company and has a likewise CEO. It’s unique and while advertisements may be a major part of the business side of things, any loyal member knows the experience was never about the ads. It can still be used for great benefit for companies and individuals, but more so for communication and interaction.
So, what’s next?
Are we truly an app generation? How much personal information do we want to post and/or have on the internet? Do people of all ages want to be on or off the ever-expanding electronic grid with cell phones included? Do we like being so connected all the time?
Taking a step back and looking at the development of the new and big ideas that changed our culture, it seems apparent that whatever is next in line (and something is) needs elements of simplicity and mystery. The capacity for growth, expansion and improvement should be open, yet narrow with a focus.
Facebook was new and cool. Its premise was simple and at the same time engaging with seemingly endless possibilities. “We don’t even know what it is yet…that’s a priceless asset I’m not willing to give up.” This and phrases such as “friend me” or “facebook me” will most likely be the starting points and expectation drivers for the next big wave. Facebook is still a good-sized wave and will be around for time to come, but what is that big wave just on the horizon? Will it be social media 2.0 or something completely new?
I know something big and new is coming because that is the American tradition of big sky-big idea dreamers. Until then, start drawing on your dorm room window and think big, plain and simple.