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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.

Mobile: The Marketing Key in Reaching Your Audience

Collage of Mobile DevicesFor some time now, the power of mobile has been very evident. The past few years have been full of headlines boasting “Mobile Is the Future” and how “Mobile Is Taking Over the World.” Despite these catchy headlines, oftentimes the meaning behind them is perceived as simply media hype. In this case, it is anything but puff from the media.

Mobile is incredibly powerful and is growing. Think about your own personal use. For me, I use my mobile device constantly, for professional and personal reasons. In fact, be it good or bad, I almost develop a twitch when I don’t have it nearby. J

Beyond my own obsession with mobile, the whole mobile market – the hardware, software, apps, services, infrastructure, etc. – and its reach is absolutely mind-blowing. Mobile essentially connects the entire world in real time all the time. It’s actually quite amazing when you think about it. Not only is mobile impacting the tech space, but it is also affecting healthcare, finance, retail, and numerous other industries. In other words, mobile plays a critical role in the whole economy. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) conducted a study on the full correlation between mobile and the economy and found the following key points regarding the mobile marketing ecosystem:

  …exhibits remarkable levels of investment for an industry so young: $6.7 billion spent on it by client-side marketers and retailers across all industries in 2012, a figure likely to reach almost $20 billion by 2015;

  …contributes even more impressive levels of incremental output to the U.S. economy: $139 billion in 2012, and reaching $400 billion by 2015, with at least 85% of this sales impact taking place in “off-line”, “brick and mortar” locations;

  …currently sustains over a half million jobs in 2012, and will likely support upwards of a million and a half workers by 2015, including both direct and indirect employees; in fact, every single employee in a direct mobile marketing communications role will support over 23 workers in non-mobile occupations throughout all 50 states and the District of Columbia in that year.

Furthermore, Pew Internet and American Life Project recently released a report that shows how many people use cell phones and what they use them for. The usage, which include  texting, accessing the Internet, email, apps, maps and directions, music, video calls, and check-in and location sharing all showed year over year growth in recent years.

Pew Study on Phone Usage

Pew Graphs on Mobile ActivitiesFor businesses today and going forward, mobile is one of the most essential means, if not the primary resource that users utilize for email, social media, search, shopping, notes and more. When businesses do not accommodate these trends, they miss out.

While this may sound obvious, unfortunately, many businesses don’t seem to grasp that emails are still being sent that aren’t optimized for mobile. This lack of recognition or whatever you want to call it also carries over to social media as businesses seemingly ignore the fact that the majority of Facebook and Twitter users access these sites via mobile devices.

To make sure that you don’t fall into this missed boat category, there are a few things you can do to get on board with mobile. First of all, you need to do some research. Test your site out on multiple mobile devices. Make sure everything is working how you want it to work. Tools such as Screenfly and iPad Peek, among others may help speed this testing process along.

It could also be helpful to have someone who is not familiar with your web properties to be involved in the testing to really check usability. Speed is another factor that should be tested in this process, as our society has grown incredibly impatient in this real-time world.

Secondly, to make the job of marketing visibility easier, businesses really need to consider implementing a responsive design. Late last year, Pete Cashmore over on Mashable wrote convincing piece on Why 2013 Is the Year for Responsive Web Design. In the report, he explained that a responsive web design “uses ‘media queries’ to figure out what resolution of device it’s being served on.”

Very simply put, such a design allows the content to automatically resize when the browser size changes. Responsive design has become wildly popular over the past year not because it’s the latest trend, but largely because it is very useful.

The third area that businesses need to think about is social media related to mobile. Now, while marketers can’t control speed or the backend of the apps, you can control the message you’re putting out. Basically, you have to make your message as accessible as possible.

Users aren’t interested in reading a dissertation only to be led to a link and another article. Instead, you need to produce content that catches their eye quickly and that doesn’t waste their time. In addition to making your message accessible, you need to be accessible. For instance, if someone comments to you on a Facebook post, you should not wait days to respond. Again, we are living in a society when people expect real-time results.

We say this a lot around here, but monitoring is absolutely critical in social media. And for marketers, the mobile capabilities are advancing right along with the user apps, making it difficult to find excuses not to react.

While the computer will not disappear any time in the near future, the value and convenience of mobile is only going to grow. There’s no turning back now. So, you can either jump on board, or fall behind. What’s it going to be?

Images courtesy of AskingSmarterQuestions.com and Pew respectively.

 

Social Media Overload? 3 Tips to Prevent It

Yes, it’s true. As much as we love social media around here, we recognize that it can to be overpowering. There are just some days when that person who really needs to see a psychiatrist crosses the line. Or, when the business that runs ANOTHER contest that 15 of your friends get suckered into, which, of course, fills up your feed, just rubs you the wrong way for the last time. These situations combined with the usual crazies and endless photos are sometimes just too much.

Is anyone willing to relate?

A new Pew study even found that more than 60 percent of Facebook users have taken a “Facebook vacation” that lasts up to several weeks. The reasons, as seen below, vary between not having enough time for the site and the lack of compelling content.

Pew Study Chart

Now, there are probably some purists who would never admit to such a thing, but yes, social media fatigue does, in fact, happen. We have reached that point in the social media game. It happens with individual social profiles and especially with people that manage multiple social media accounts. But, you know what? It’s okay.

If you’re planning an event with any number of people, it’s common knowledge to know that there is always going to be that one or sometimes that handful of people that aren’t happy with something. We’re human, and we’re hard to please. So, why would it be any different online?

The good news is that, if you’re proactive, you can recover from this feeling of fatigue and overload.

For starters, have a plan for your social networks and stick to it. Your social media activity should be directly related to your brand’s goals. If it’s not, there’s going to be a problem. Instead of posting random facts sporadically, sit down and create a content plan. This type of organization will also help you easily see trends.

Secondly, make sure that you balance your online and offline social efforts. Even though it’s repeated all the time, so many people and businesses still don’t get that online social efforts are just an extension of offline initiatives. They work in tandem. It’s like peanut butter and jelly. (For those of you who don’t like PB&J, you’re crazy, first of all, and secondly, ignore this analogy.) You can’t push one at the expense of the other.

PB&J

If you find yourself starting to go stir-crazy, find a conference or tweet-up to attend. In other words, remind yourself that there are other people behind those other social accounts that need human interaction too.

Lastly, use time management for your social networks. More often than not, social media experts push the importance of investing in social media. We believe wholeheartedly in this concept, but we also recognize that there is such a thing as being too active.

For instance, constant posting doesn’t necessarily result in a benefit. To tell the truth, it could actually cause more harm than good on a platform like Facebook. The social network’s EdgeRank algorithm works much like Google’s PageRank in that it filters results in and out of users’ feeds based on various factors including time and engagement. More simply put, too frequent posts could actually drive the EdgeRank down.

This doesn’t, however, mean that you should spend less time on social platforms. What it means is that instead of constantly creating new posts, you could spend your time building partnerships and having conversations apart from your brand page.

Setting aside a specific amount of time for social media is also very beneficial in time management since it puts a stronger emphasis on meeting goals.

In the end, understand that social media can be very overwhelming.  But before you write off social media for good, or quit your job if you’re a social media manager, take a step back and evaluate your social strategy. You may simply need to take some steps to change your approach.