Happy Birthday, Facebook!
Someone’s having a party, and whether you are regularly a part of the social media web or not, you’re bound to know about it. Facebook is ten years old- doesn’t time fly?
It’s hard now to imagine a world without Facebook. It has changed the way in which we communicate with family, friends and colleagues. It’s even made a slight change to the way we shop, discover new music and use the Internet as a whole. But will we still say this once another 10 years have elapsed?
Let's remember that this birthday party is not celebrating ten years of Facebook being the world’s most popular social networking site. This is a decade since Facebook launched relatively discretely as part of a university experiment. This company is still young, and is learning along the way.
Vertical integration to compensate stumbling growth?
Rory Cellan-Jones from the BBC, reports about the number of ‘scares’ that Facebook has had when it comes to social marketshare. It is impossible for any company to sustain steep growth in one area, and so we shouldn’t be too surprised when we hear of the total number of Facebook users declining, but it's fair to say that the social media space is competitive, and staying away will only leave you coming in last place.
However, unlike other ‘deceased’ social networks, Facebook has concentrated on vertical integration to compensate for its declining growth rates. When the site first became popular, Facebook.com was a self contained domain of photos and simple status updates; remember when you had to start your status with ‘Josh is...’?
Now, Facebook has integrated itself across numerous devices and services across the web. How many sites have you visited where you’ve been encouraged to ‘Sign In with Facebook’, or 'Like' a Facebook page in order to see more content, or enter a competition?
Pinterest was the first time I really noticed this. Not wanting my Facebook friends from all walks of life to see my carefully chosen wallpaper patterns for my craft room, I had to pop on my glasses and actually search high and low for the ‘sign in with an email address’ link- deliberately smaller and more discrete.
This is an impressive feat and it's something I believe we will see more of in the future. As someone who deleted my Facebook account two years ago, I have discovered many websites where I simply cannot view the content I want or enter the competition I want to purely because I'm not willing to link up a Facebook account to external websites. This is slightly scary, (maybe even discrimination?), but it shows Facebook's influence on the World Wide Web is huge.
Business? Get on it
If you're a business, get on Facebook- use it to share pictures, information, products, videos, anything you can, but make it available to ALL. Facebook's goal when it started was to 'connect'- don't allow you business to hide behind 'Like' walls. This was not Facebook's vision and it only excludes more than it includes. Get in touch with Giraffe- we can help you start a social media strategy if you don't have one already.
Facebook's story continues to evolve- the recent purchase of WhatsApp messaging service for $19 billion (yes, billion), shows that it is desperate to stay relevant and expand into more areas of communication- even if it costs.
I can't predict how long Facebook will be with us for, but for the foreseeable future, it's here to stay. Please, use it wisely and use it well.