Here is a fantastic infographic that helps to visualize the relative size of social networks over time.
The timeline is quite interesting — you can really see the explosion of social networks in 2003 – 2006 and the relative slowdown in their creation after 2007. There was also a considerable slowdown during the tech bubble crush in 2001.
You can also see that the big dogs of social networks (Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin) were established from 2003 – 2006. If you look back at a company like Google that went public after about 10 years of operation, that puts SWAG target dates on IPO’s for the big dogs anywhere from 2013 – 2016.
And, yes, these social networks will eventually go public. For a longtime nobody thought Google had a business model — how did that one turn out? The big dogs will eventually figure out business models that work for them too.
Part of the next wave of innovation in the world will revolve around social networks, personal brands, massive amounts of online data, collaboration and making sense of this information to create value.
In the next decade, the best opportunities will go to those that have created their personal brands and are seen as leaders in their niche. The best opportunities will find the most powerful personal brands and be unsolicited.
There will be more internal company social networking over the next decade as Web 2.0 social networking is brought to your workplace. Yes, your personal brand will follow you everywhere you go.
The most credible and visible personal brands will stand the greatest odds of success in an increasingly online and competitive world.