Category: trends

Having hosted and developed websites for over a decade now, it was always funny sifting through the logs in the early days. When the Internet first became popular to consumers, pornography accounted a for a huge portion of search engine traffic. 90% of my search engine hits in the mid-90’s were people looking for porn (must be my last name). In fact, it was so bad back in the day, that the number one SEO move was to put porn keywords in your META tags.

A few years ago, I heard about a pornographic Youtube clone called “Youporn” in a Techcrunch article. Out of curiosity, I looked up Youporn on Google trends and compared it to Web 2.0 darlings Twitter, Flickr, Yelp, and Digg. Here are the shocking results:
Youporn Google Trends

While there is a ton of buzz about Twitter, Youporn is insanely popular, yet its barley mentioned in the press. There are 37 news articles that mention “Youporn,” compared to 75,000 for Twitter. Yet, if you look at the trend results, the Youporn keyword is TWO TIMES more popular than Twitter.

While the results are shocking, Youtube is still far and away the king.

Long before the term “blog” was coined, I had a personal homepage. Earlier this decade, personal homepages started shifting to the blog format. Today, we are seeing those personal blogs die a slow death, as people flock to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Sure, lots of people are still blogging. Blogging is still growing, but I’m seeing a noticeable reduction in volume among the personal blogs that I follow. My own blogging has been reduced somewhat, the main culprits being Twitter and Facebook.

A few years ago, I might blog a quick link to a news article. Today, its either a tweet or Facebook posted item for news stories. I don’t bother with a blog post, unless I want to write two paragraphs or more.

For lots of people, social networking sites are their first exposure to “web publishing.” Those people are going to be less inclined to create their own blogs and personal websites. Why bother creating a blog when “everybody is on Facebook?”

For me, I think there will always be a place for the personal website. Social networking websites are very poor substitutes for blogging, because of the limited exposure, the low signal to noise ratio, and the frequency of the news feed. A two day old Facebook note is never seen again, where a two year old blog post is still very accessible.

It will be very interesting to see how personal blogging will evolve in the next decade. Social networking is a threat, but its also an opportunity for integration with tools like Facebook connect.

There is no doubting the current influence of Facebook. Myspace has stagnated since Rupert Murdoch purchased the site nearly three years ago. According to Google Trends, Facebook overtook Myspace in terms of search volume.

facebook google trends

Facebook, as currently positioned, will never become a long term tech powerhouse like Google. There is simply no way for a social networking company to make a healthy consistent profit as a standalone entity. The only viable endgame for a social networking company is to get bought out. Considering the fact that Facebook is now the undisputed social networking king, theres never been a better time to sell.

Today, Google announced a product called “Friend connect,” which allows any website to add social networking features. Friend connect is a lot like Ning, a Mark Andreessen backed startup allowing anyone to create their own social networking site.

As social networking gets more distributed, highly centralized sites like Facebook will become less relevant in the future. It reminds me a lot of the mid-90’s when centralized online services like AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy were the big players. The ISP model shifted from centralized to distributed, and all the big providers faded away.

Considering Facebook’s current status as the clear market leader, Facebook investors would be well served by selling the company soon. Given the failed Yahoo bid, Microsoft could use a bit of good news. I’m sure Steve Ballmer would be willing to overpay for Facebook in order to appear relevant in the Internet space. Given the Google Friend Connect announcement, it would be great timing for Microsoft.

Is a quick sale of Facebook a smart move? Probably.. Will it happen? Not if you believe Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. He has consistently fought off the notion of selling the company. While there is certainly room for Facebook to grow further, many entrepreneurs have been stung by their own delusions of grandeur. Friendster, the pioneer of social networking, is not longer relevant.