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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.

Why Social Media Is NOT a Fad

Oh my. Here we go again. The question over whether or not social media is a fad has been sparked once again. A few years ago, this debate was really hot as social networks – namely Facebook and Twiter – were figuring out how to monetize their services. It has died down in recent years but, every once in a while, it gets revived, which is what is happening now.

To understand why social media is here to stay, let’s back up to the days before Facebook and Twitter. Even back then, social media existed. At this point, it primarily consisted of forums. Then, between 2004-2006, blogs really began taking off. The glory days of MySpace, of course, fell into this time frame too.

Although forums had been around for years, an interesting shift in communication began taking place over the course of these years. As this occurred, people, meaning regular, average Joe individuals, started realizing that they had a voice. These regular people could connect and converse with their peers. And as a result, these conversations provided value.

With the power of this concept starting to sink in, the shift in communication began to evolve. What helped this concept grow and evolve even more, however, was largely due to free blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogspot as well as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter coming onto the scene.

As these events started to unfold, businesses also started seeing changes. Now that essentially everyone had a voice, their job became harder. Businesses could no longer dictate the message they wanted consumers to hear. The roles became reversed.

At this time, businesses started seeing the true value of new media and began embracing it. If you fast-forward to today, all social channels have grown exponentially. Businesses that recognized the shift in communication early on are finding that social media is simply an extension of their traditional marketing strategy. Others that have been late to the game are playing catch up. And, of course, there are some who have yet to join in that will, unfortunately but likely, face many challenges when they realize the importance of social integration.

The “fad” factor comes into play as there are so many new social networks being introduced in today’s world. There are a LOT of social networks in today’s world. From image-based networks to video-based networks and beyond, it’s incredibly hard to keep up with them all, especially when they are geared toward very niche verticals.

Will one of these rise up to become the next Facebook? It’s possible. But, at this point, no one knows. Back in MySpace’s day, most of its users probably thought it was here to stay. The trend, however, changed.

With Facebook, it is somewhat different. While it is true that Facebook is losing some of the younger generation of users, this doesn’t mean that it’s dying. Facebook is still the go-to place for many users next to email. In fact, recent statistics from Digital Marketing Ramblings show that Facebook has 1.15 billion users, and 699 million daily active users. Does this sound like a site that’s dying? It is certainly possible that Facebook may not be around at some point. But, it doesn’t seem to be headed in this direction any time in the near future.

More importantly, even if Facebook goes away, there will be another network(s) that everyone will be using. Unless the communication model moves backward, which in all honesty is next to impossible, social media is here for the long haul.

A new study from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that social media usage among U.S. adults has risen 800 percent in just 8 years. Also among noteworthy news, Twitter users have grown 125 percent since 2010.

Pew Internet Study

On the business side, a study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research shows that the corporate world gets that social media has immense value too:

Fortune 500 Social Media Usage

All these reasons are more than proof to squash the “Is social media a fad?” debate. Instead, how about we focus on making the current social platforms better for businesses to succeed?