Mark Cuban explained over the weekend that Facebook is in the social networking driver’s seat since they have the most people with the most complete profiles – and they’ve done so using their real names, unlike MySpace. Since it’s a pain to duplicate such efforts, Cuban things Facebook has a serious competitive advantage in this space.
In my opinion, they’re all missing the much larger social network that we’ve all built up over our entire lives on the Internet: our contacts databases. We each have MANY more connections within our contacts databases, together with email, than we have on any social networking site. For example, I have 120 Facebook friends, but 2677 contacts in my Gmail account.
Tapping into that level of relationships should provide for much more powerful advertising opportunities than relying on proactive contributions ever could. Imagine Google mapping out the relationships between everyone who uses Gmail? Or everyone who uses Gmail combined with everyone who’s ever emailed someone who uses Gmail? That probably covers 99% or more of the Internet without relying on users proactively inputting information into any social networking site.
That’s closer to what Google achieved when they figured out how to bring a greater level of relevancy to web search without relying on any proactive steps by webmasters or searchers, such as voting. They just did a better job crunching the data that already existed.