Facebook's announcements at f8 were stunning in their breadth and vision.  By expanding their reach to the Internet as a whole, they've morphed overnight from a social network to a pervasive part of the Internet.  In so doing, they're making their competitors (e.g. Twitter and even Google) look awfully amateur while scaring the heck out of established startups like Digg who all of a sudden have a new competitor I'm sure they didn't even consider until a few months ago.

Even the location-based community wasn't spared, although Facebook's reliance on RFID seems a little 3.0 given what they perhaps could've announced re: location on Facebook Mobile, which has over 100 million users.

I shared my thoughts on ReadWriteWeb yesterday as it impacts the newspaper business.  I think it could potentially be huge.

But after sleeping on it another night, I can't help but think of a few experiences I've had recently that make me pause a bit.  All of them are indications of "social media fatigue" that I think will be an increasingly significant issue as social technologies become more pervasive.

For example:

  • In January, I spoke on a panel at the Texas A&M business school on the future of social media.  The panel was attended by students in the master's of marketing program.  Most were in their 20s — the ideal demographic for Facebook circa 2008.  So these were people that, as opposed to most of the newspaper industry people I talk with every day, are now social media veterans who have used Facebook and in some cases Twitter for as much as a few years.

I started getting a few questions from the group that indicated a latent dissatisfaction with Facebook.  So I finally asked for a show of hands for this question — "how many of you use Facebook less today than a year ago?"  Nearly everyone raised their hands.

  • Consider also the case of Twitter, which achieved stratospheric growth and usage as it become part of the pop culture vernacular.  However, some folks began to ask as early as January 2010 if Twitter had peaked.  In fact, if you check Twitter's site traffic at compete.com, you'll notice it's an awfully flat chart over the last 9 months or so (although admittedly that's a poor measure of Twitter as its data is today accessed through a variety of client & mobile apps as well.)
  • Also consider location-based services — and for this I'll inject my own data point that I'm sure other people have experienced.  I have up to 100 friends on the range of current LBS providers.  At first, most people tend to check in quite a bit.  But after awhile, something interesting happens — they stop doing it.  As of this morning, I have 6 friends who have updated their location in the last 24 hours on one service and less than a handful on all the others.  LBS products may have a lot of users, but I always wonder how many ACTIVE users they have because that is the important data point.  More on that later.

My point today is that social media fatigue is real, especially amongst the masses.  EVERYONE in the social media space has to have a strategy for dealing with it.

Facebook is dealing with it by attempting to become a pervasive force in the Web as a whole.  The skeptic in me just wonders if that will prove to be overkill, and the backlash that people are already reporting will become Facebook's biggest enemy.

While we're designed to be social creatures more or less, is there a point at which it is all too much? One thing is for sure - we're probably going to find out.