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April 21, 2009

Facebook M

In this post: With Generation X growing on Facebook, where will Millenials turn to network online? …

Jaimy SzymanskiApril 2009 was monumentous for Facebook. The social networking platform reached 200 million active users, far surpassing “competitors” like MySpace (yes, it still exists) and professional network LinkedIn.

So, what does this mean for the future of Facebook? Let me introduce to you the new child that I predict will soon be born: Facebook M.

First, let’s back-track a bit. With the recent onslaught of individuals flocking to Facebook, especially in the middle-aged women demo, I have to wonder what it’s like to be a teenager the day your mom or dad friends you on Facebook.

Talking with my 17-year-old brother, I can get a pretty good idea of what it’s like. Embarassing, annoying and reason enough to delete your account (he actually did delete it, too). Now, he’s gone back to MySpace, an old friend of his that he has already built a network on.

But, it does make me wonder: What if there were a new alternative to Facebook that still offered the same functionality (maybe even more tailored to the age group, now that I think of it), but on a more “comfortable” network for next-generation users who find it awkward to connect with their parents, bosses, managers, teachers online? Would my brother and his same-aged peers gravitate toward it, rather than a previously used network like MySpace?

I think there’s potential here.

And so, Facebook M is born. The “M” for “millenials” – an all-encompassing term used often to describe the younger half of Generation Y with the up-and-coming “Generation Z.”

I think that Facebook could really capitalize on its recent growth trend by introducing a new subset network under the already mainstream Facebook brand that targets a bit younger crowd. Yes, anyone could technically still join either network, but if one has more applicable features over another, the choice would be obvious where to build your friend base.

I haven’t worked out all the technicalities yet, and I don’t plan to. I’m sure there are pros and cons to Facebook pursuing such an endeavor, but I think it’s worth a thought (or two). Facebook is growing among Generation Xers, so that’s pretty much a no-brainer to stick with what works there. But, with the changing digital landscape that millenials are introduced to on a daily basis, I wonder if more early adopters are being molded by the minute.

It comes down to this: If Facebook isn’t the one to capitalize on its own brand and social networking features, targeting a younger demo looking for a place to call their own online, someone else will. It’s just a matter of when.