This was the answer I got when I spoke to a group of mid-twenties marketers during a presentation I gave recently.
The question was: "Do you think you will be using Facebook in two years time?"
I asked for a few reasons. About 7 years ago I was big into Yahoo Chat. Then life took over, I ran out of time, and it all faded away. Nobody I know is there anymore, even though we had a really large local community.
It made me think. I have a lot of doubts about the sustainable nature of the present Web 2.0 bubble. (Great video) And I really had an Epiphany when I read Robert Scoble's Tweet saying "I am really worried about start ups in the valley supported by advertising". (Paraphrasing there.)
And he should be worried. We are not talking about Salesforce.com here, we are talking about a heap of sites and blogs that are all powered by advertising.
I think LinkedIn seems to have an idea about longer term revenue generation, or at least outside of the advertising model. But Facebook, MySpace and YouTube all rely directly on their traffic as opposed to anything else. And this means advertising.
How long can Web 2.0 continue to be funded by Google Adwords? What happens when advertising drops off? What happens when (like right now) the floor falls out of the market?
Remeber conferences and trade shows? They used to be fantastic places for generating new work and for generating leads. Still okay today, but nothing like they used to be.
Why? Because you go there and you are marketing to other marketers who have marketed to you and so on... you get the point.
Is that the future for MySpace / Facebook or LinkedIn? What about Twitter? Its already choking on marketing type stuff.
I used to read a lot of blogs about Web 2.0. And I used to download a lot of podcasts. But please... I couldn't take it any more. Some of the most inane self serving garbage I have read. (I still read and recommend Scobleizer.com, but he has a business edge to his writing. Dropped all of his podcasts though)
Don't get me wrong. I like the social media stuff, and I am pretty sure that there is money to be mined from relationships online. In fact, Seth Godins recent success has proved it to me beyond a shadow of a doubt.
But is it sustainable in the form that it is now in? And if not, then whats next?