This week, Facebook revised their platform for application developers to base the validity and popularity of applications on engagement of the user instead of downloads. This is the correct way to do things. No more is it just about the number of people that visit the site and the number that become members. It’s about how involved the users are on your site. I think a true test of a site is measuring how integrated the site and applications are in the fabric of people’s lives?
What makes a social networking site valuable? Is it how many friends you have? Hardly. Social scientists have studied the ‘pseudo-friends-myspace’ phenomenon and, at most, we can truly have about 150 connections without going bonkers.
I believe the true litmus test over the next three years will be for social sites to create a safe, usable, and truly integrated tool set where users can connect and share among their group of 150 people or less. This means being able to transact commerce, share plans and goals, communicate, get closer, and get recommendations from the people you trust.