We tend to value things by putting a price tag on it: The watch must be good because it costs $5,000. The Mercedes-Benz must be better because it’s more expensive than the VW. Applying the same method to relationships or connections seems laughable: What is the value of a friend? What is the value of a business connection?
Unfortunately, Wall Street, many businesses and agencies try to value Social Networks just on a monetary basis. They see the overvaluation of Facebook as a reminder of the dotcom bubble and a warning sign that all this talk about Social Media and Conversational Marketing might just be that: talk.
I agree: Facebook is not a $15 billion company. But, at the same time, I couldn’t care less. I’m not Mark Zuckerberg, I’m not an investor, shareholder, don’t really care if Facebook ever makes a profit. I don’t even care if Facebook survives the next two years, ends up to be another MySpace aka Advertising Network or thrives and prospers. But users care: Once they feel the sell-out, they’re moving on.
What I care about are changing behavior patterns: People don’t ask companies anymore to get them things, they ask their peers. People avoid advertising at any cost but they are open to valuable tools that facilitate their conversations. Facebook is one site where many of these changing behavior patterns manifest themselves. There are thousand others. And you can experience it outside of the digital space: In airplanes, at work, in pre-school, stuck in traffic.
Debating the value of MySpace or Facebook might be an entertaining discussion. But it distracts us from the fact that people are changing. Relationships and connections are the real value of Social Networks. Not a Wall Street price tag.