Facebook announced that they have opened up their site to anyone. Previously you had to be a student at a college or high school, or be an employee of a few large select companies in order to be able to register.
This is an interesting move from Facebook. Many people have attributed their success to being the more school-focused and exclusive social network in comparison to Myspace and others. By opening up to everyone, they are stepping in to the ring with Myspace as well as getting rid of their exclusivity that made them cool.
Is this a big mistake? Some think they are.
I’m not so sure I agree. Usually I tend to fall on the side of focusing on your niche and maximizing it instead of trying to be the solution for everyone. It’s obvious that Facebook is going to gain users and an immediate increase in traffic from this. The question is whether those new users stick around, and whether the long-time users continue to stick around and use it as vigilantly as they did when it was exclusive to students.
As I set up my profile on Facebook last night to check it out, I was impressed with the experience compared to Myspace. It’s still far from great, but I thought the setup, the ability to more easily become a part of relevant “networks” to me, and the consistent look and feel made it an experience I’d much rather have versus Myspace.
I understand that the craziness of Myspace and ability to customize things is what’s so attractive to much of the Myspace generation, but I feel like Facebook has a real shot at growth by being the school/work/professional social network.
In this case, I don’t think it’s a mistake. They may lose some users who really care about the coolness and exclusivity of it, but I think they’ll gain more users like me who prefer the experience over Myspace and other social networks.