Web Business Is All About Users
King is dead, long live the King!
The trademark of the Web: "Content is king" is dying away. In the end, Web is business and business needs to make money. With the emergence of so many, high-quality, free-content resources, few people want to pay for content on the Net; even if they do - it's for niche and limited content. By large, the money on the Net is in advertising, exclusively. To get any advertising money you obviously need users and the size of the audience you can reach directly resonates with the ad revenue.
It is not about content, anymore!
The mind-bobbling success of online services with limited original content such as micro-blogging (Twitter) and social rating (Digg) prove that it's not about content. Content is not #1 even on Facebook - it's the interaction that brings people to Facebook, not some magic content they are looking for. Let's face it: most of the content on Facebook is pretty goofy.
Speaking in grossly generalized terms, successful sites on the Web become popular for two main reasons: either they are very useful and fill some need, or there're way too many people on the site to avoid it. Large user base creates a social power: just because there are so many people on the website, and somebody can contact them (either textually or through applications as in case of Facebook) - it instantly becomes a marketplace.
One, less explored characteristic of the Social Web is that - once you have a large user-base, it becomes less important what brought these users together. You need to open proper channels between them and the crowd can mold itself into many interesting things, some of which may have little to do with the original idea.
If you have read this blog post this far and are thinking "So? What's new". Well, nothing is, but next time you work on a website, make sure you pay as much attention to pure user experience as you usually pay to content and its presentation (which is not the same as user experience).