With all the hand wringing about Facebook being so unpopular with teens I can’t help but think that that social networks have a problem not really faced by other technology properties; namely that whether they are physical or digital, ‘cool’ social experiences have an expiration date.
Look at the long arc from Friendster to Myspace to Facebook to Twitter to Instagram and it could easily be the lifecycle of bars and restaurants in NYC where a 2-3 year run of relevance is considered normal and a 5+ year run is almost unheard of. In those social spaces cool just never stays cool for very long and that’s an accepted part of the business. In that light Facebook’s effort to stay cool forever seems a lot more daunting.
Social networks have things in their favor that restaurants and clubs don’t of course (lock-in based on profile and data accumulation for one) but they seem to be impacted far more by perception of cool than other digital properties (nobody dumps google because their mom uses it). We didn’t expect Level V to last forever…why should we expect Facebook to?