10 Years of Facebook & Its Influence on Social Media

“…People often ask if I always knew that Facebook would become what it is today. No way.

I remember getting pizza with my friends one night in college shortly after opening Facebook. I told them I was excited to help connect our school community, but one day someone needed to connect the whole world.

I always thought this was important — giving people the power to share and stay connected, empowering people to build their own communities themselves.

When I reflect on the last 10 years, one question I ask myself is: why were we the ones to build this? We were just students. We had way fewer resources than big companies. If they had focused on this problem, they could have done it.

The only answer I can think of is: we just cared more.

While some doubted that connecting the world was actually important, we were building. While others doubted that this would be sustainable, you were forming lasting connections.

We just cared more about connecting the world than anyone else. And we still do today.”

Above are the words of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It’s been 10 years since his dorm room project came to life. And what a decade it has been! We’ve witnessed tremendous growth, transformations, impact, business capabilities and even an IPO. But, as anyone knows that has even somewhat followed the social giant, the past decade hasn’t just been a bed of roses. There have been challenges and backlashes along the way including privacy concerns, competitors, legal issues, financial alarms and more.

Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg

But, 10 years in, Facebook is a successful, global company that has had a tremendous impact on all society. We would be here a very long time if we went back through all the Facebook milestones and the effect they have had on both the company and overall culture. But, we do want to take a little time to reflect on the big picture of Facebook in the past decade, and more importantly social media and the role it has played.

To do this, let’s back up. In 2004, when Facebook was built, what was your social media life like? At this point in time, MySpace was a big deal, forums were hot, instant messaging platforms such as ICQ were all the rave and Friendster was a means to connect with people online whom you already in the offline world. Other platforms such as Orkut, LinkedIn, and Classmates, among others, existed as well, but the social evolution that we now are familiar with was not present. It was then that blogging really started taking off too.

For me, I remember being in college and getting asked if I had Facebook from a few of my friends from other colleges and universities. I had no idea what it was. But, when it became available to my university, I readily signed up. Funny thing, I remember it blowing up across campus to the extent that there were rumors the president was going to ban it. I was part of the on campus news station, and in covering the event, the overall student response was: “My life would be over if they take Facebook away.” I wonder how many people view Facebook in this same way today…

As Facebook began to grow among the college crowd, it then expanded to include high schoolers, and shortly after, everyone. Although this move took the social network to the next level, Charlene Li from research firm Altimeter Group tells CNET it was “counter-intuitive.”

“If [Zuckerberg] had asked users, “What do you want?,” they would have never said “Add my parents,” she said.

She’s right, but we know now that it was successful for the company that now has more than 1.25 billion users and a reported $2.59 billion in revenue this past quarter. However, beyond this, I think it’s fair to say that social media would not be what it is today if Facebook were not a factor. Like it or not, Facebook has largely influenced the overall social media marketplace. Think about how social we are in everything we do from shopping to cooking to sharing opinions to conducting business and the list goes on and on. Though some would say, if Facebook hadn’t come around, something else would have. While this may be true, the circumstances would still be different. For instance, would MySpace have remained a leader? Whether it did or didn’t, would the road have still been paved for Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others to enter the social space?

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Though history does not allow us to answer this question, it is clear that Facebook has been very formative in molding social media as we currently know it.

Now, the question becomes, where will it take us next?

“…I’m even more excited about the next ten years than the last. The first ten years were about bootstrapping this network. Now we have the resources to help people across the world solve even bigger and more important problems.

Today, only one-third of the world’s population has access to the internet. In the next decade, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to connect the other two-thirds.

Today, social networks are mostly about sharing moments. In the next decade, they’ll also help you answer questions and solve complex problems.

Today, we have only a few ways to share our experiences. In the next decade, technology will enable us to create many more ways to capture and communicate new kinds of experiences.”

Zuckerberg does not give us any exact information on the next 10 years of Facebook in his above post, but he does indicate that it will become smarter and create new experiences. Hopefully, the social network will continue to grow and transform the way consumers act and think. It’s already helped develop an industry that not only connects a large portion of the world and provides a very valuable tool for businesses, but it also has created a whole new job market.

There have been many headlines declaring that the younger generation was abandoning the site, but new research from Pew shows that 73 percent of children ages 12-17 are Facebook users. So, while Facebook doesn’t appear to be going anywhere but up, it is possible that it could diminish in value at some point. IF this were to happen, the impact is has will still be felt, which is an awesome concept. The way people communicate, react, think, and ultimately, live has been revolutionized in the last decade, all thanks to the influx of social media and led largely by Facebook. Will the next 10 years hold as many changes? We’ll see, but I, for one, am so excited to see where it takes us.

How has Facebook impacted you? Does it play a large role in your life? Has Facebook changed the way you communicate? Could you live without it? Is there a particular event in which Facebook changed your life for the better or worse?

Images courtesy of Facebook.

Facebook Ads: How Effective Are They?


Hootsuite Sponsored Facebook Ad

What do you think of Facebook ads? As businesses and marketers, do you find them useful? From the consumer perspective, are they annoying? Have your eyes already realized where they need to go to avoid them?

As you ponder these questions, let’s take a look at the Facebook advertising platform.  When Facebook became open to all users, advertising became inevitable as a monetization model. Since the ad platform was rolled out several years ago, it’s gone through many different phases and developments. Most would probably agree that these changes have been for the better.

The real question is: Are Facebook ads providing real value to businesses?

According to a couple of recent studies that were incidentally released just before Facebook’s Q3 earnings came out, they do. Kenshoo Social, a digital marketing technology company, released its quarterly review of Facebook’s advertising performance and found considerable improvements from Q2. Some notable improvements include:

  • Ad impressions:  Up 13%
  • Click Volume:  Up 14.4%
  • Cost Per Click (CPC):  Down 9%
  • Conversion Rate (CVR):  Up 2.36x
  • Conversion Volume:  Up 2.85x
  • Revenue:  Up 2.16x
  • Revenue Per Click (RPC):  Up 1.76x
  • Return on Investment (ROI):  Up 3.04x

Kenshoo Social believes that changes Facebook has made to its ad platform should largely be credited with these improved performances. For instance, Facebook has given advertisers greater targeting capabilities and more formatting options. Also, as Facebook continues to provide a better product for its advertisers, they, in turn, are becoming more experienced, a.k.a. better, with their approaches.

In a blog post about the study, Kenshoo Social’s Senior Director of Product Marketing Todd Herrold made a powerful statement regarding Facebook ads:

Facebook is a powerful direct response channel that drives significant sales, revenue and ROI… [and] Facebook continues to outperform with major brands driving more sales, more revenue and higher ROI from Facebook Ads.”

A second study from Adobe, which is the first annual Social Media Intelligence report, also found positive developments in Facebook ad performance. The study specifically looked at more than 131 billion ad impressions and 4.3 billion social engagements on Facebook. It found that, overall, Facebook’s ad clicks, ad impressions and the advertiser’s return on investment (ROI) increased in 2013 from 2012. Particularly speaking, Facebook ads were clicked 29 percent more in 2013, the volume of impressions was up 85 percent and the ROI was up 58 percent year over year.

Social Media Intelligence Report

Social Media Intelligence Chart

Interestingly enough, well-acclaimed research firm Forrester also just released an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg explaining why it thinks the social giant is “failing marketers.” The company conducted a survey as well that covered marketers and ebusiness executives across the U.S., Canada, and the UK. Based on this study, Facebook does NOT create business value:

Facebook Ad Failure

This news has raised quite a stir with outlets such as Venture Beat calling the report “an embarrassment” and “distasteful.”

Facebook too responded to the report saying it was “illogical and… irresponsible.”

So, which is it? Are Facebook ads doing great, or are they a failure?

Though the story is still developing, business leaders and marketers ultimately need to analyze this data and this news based on your own perspective. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times – there is no formula for social media. What works for one company does not necessarily work for another. Yes, it can in some cases, but if there were a secret formula for success on social media, all companies would be social media rock stars. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way.

In this particular matter, it does seem clear that Facebook is continually improving its ad platform. Also, advertising on Facebook has been around for a while, so marketers who embraced it early have likely become better at it as they have gained more experience with it.

However, as you consider if Facebook ads are the way to go for your business, think about your own company goals. While studies are great tools to see what the trends are, what you’re trying to achieve with your business needs to be the ultimate decision maker.

Images courtesy of Adobe and Forrester.