5 Additional Answers
(Content Specialist - Social Media Trainer, JeffCutler.com)
I'm not sure that you can measure it in those terms, Frank. While Facebook is ubiquitous today, and might remain so for a bit, it's just a communications device. So, to compare it to AOL isn't apples to apples. Better would be comparing Facebook to the telephone.
To address Paul's point, once in a century might be a bit of overkill. Especially because Facebook is what, less than a decade old? And so are the social tools that came around with FB. So, we may never see another once in a century tool. It's more like we'll see 'once in a score'.
Good question Frank!
(Owner, Socially Connected)
Could you expound on this question? How do you interpret what AOL did for the last generation?
(Chief Marketing Officer, Networked Insights)
I actually think your question doesn't take it far enough!
I think its more than just the AOL of our generation - I think Facebook is a 'once in a Century' communication tool. Because it has all of the prior communications tools (think Gutenberg press, Marconi radio, Photo, Video, etc) all on one platform for FREE
Bottom line is I dont think it will be as short lived as your question suggests
(Director, New and Social Media, Novell)
I can't argue with Facebook's 500 million users and stratospheric valuation. It is also hard to question its growth trajectory. I guess I am trying to think of the things they are doing to avoid begin a 'flavor of the day' Certainly the ubiquitous 'like' button and ever present tracking will give them some advantages in the long run.
Social is here to stay and Facebook appears to be a winner. Talk of open source alternatives seems to be mostly talk.
I just wonder if this is truly a once in a century kind of thing. The internet - that is once in a century. WWW and email are things that have virtually 100% adoption and things I can't live with. Ask me to go a month without Facebook and I am not sure what I would miss from my ~400 friends.
I guess I am looking for a advertising model that rocks and a site that my wife, daughter and parents are using (only one of the four is on FB today) before I anoint them the center of the universe.
Back to my initial question - I think Facebook will likely still be a powerhouse 10 years from now. Ask Yahoo and AOL - it takes a while for your user base to go away but only a couple of missed trends to make you uncool.
Only time will tell...
(Principal Consultant, Monarch Supply Chain Management, LLC)
I think Facebook has already surpassed AOL as a means for communication and more importantly for community building. Facebook brings some important capabilities to the forefront that has encouraged some fundamental business and personal changes.
The 'game changing' function of Facebook, I believe, is the ability to 'personalize' customer experience and relationship with businesses through the technology. This is the first tool to increase the level of technology in order to personalize and develop a community, two-way, highly personal relationship with the community members. This allows a company to monitor and quickly act on positive and especially negative experiences in a personal on-to-one manner in order to resolve the issue.
While this may be a once in a century thing, I think that this cycle will be greatly compressed as time goes on through new combinations of technology and practices that will provide the next 'once in a century thing' within the next 5 - 10 years.