A Facebook IPO (In Professional Opinion)

On the eve of Facebook’s awaiting initial stock offering, it’s no surprise that two national media outlets got together to cook up a story perfectly suited to draw some web clicks. The survey showed about half of Americans asked believe that Facebook is a “passing fad.”

Like the TV stations that head to a gas station to talk to drivers about high gas prices rather than working to find someone who understands the oil market to explain it, the survey allowed the general public to speak rather than those who analyze these trends professionally. So, here’s one communicator’s opinion on this question…

This reminds me of a legendary story in my family of my grandfather who, in the early ’70s, refused to buy a color TV, calling it a “gimmick.” The younger generations embraced it and, eventually, Zenith didn’t last but color TV sure did, evolving into today’s HD normalcy.

Something similar happened in the ’90s. AOL got us hooked on being online, getting instant information, sending and receiving email and sharing opinions in chat rooms. The vast majority of us don’t get online and hear “you’ve got mail” anymore, but we’re online more than ever, wondering how we lived without our information fix, reliant beyond belief on email and sharing opinions online in many ways. AOL’s days as the dominant Internet provider were temporary but what we liked about its service endured.

So what do we like about Facebook? Instant connectivity with friends and acquaintances past and present, sharing photos and videos, messaging without email, sharing and exploring opinions in real time, another source of news and information from people we know and trust. The list could go on. We put up with annoyances because, overall, it offers something that we think enriches our lives.

Facebook, the brand and the company, could be with us for many years to deliver that experience. Or another company or companies could do it all better and more profitably. Those are unknowns and investors will be the ones to place their bets. But the fundamentals of social media are no fad. They are a part of our lives and our culture and here to stay.