Facebook Status: One billion and counting
Last week Mark Zuckerberg shared a personal message announcing that Facebook had reached one billion users. And to celebrate this milestone, they released their first major TV ad – an emotive film called The Things That Connect Us.
A lot has been said about the spot, including this, but for me the most important aspect to consider is why Facebook is launching its first TV spot now.
It seems a strategic move by Zuckerberg and his team to proclaim that Facebook is more than just an advertising platform.
The commercial does the job of communicating what Facebook’s mission is pretty well - a tool that, apart from generating a huge fear of missing out on stuff, helps to bring people together and share what they care about. And with over one billion active users no one can deny that.
Being the biggest social platform in the world it boasts some staggering figures (taken from an official fact sheet); since the social network launched it has seen over 1.13 trillion Likes, 140.3 billion friend connections, 219 billion photos uploaded, 17 billion location-tagged posts and over 62.6 million songs - played 22 billion times.
Overwhelming statistics indeed. But it’s not too surprising, considering it’s fuelled by countries with a large population and a young demographic. Case in point - the top five countries using Facebook are Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States.
So if we picture the stereotypical user of Facebook posting a status on their wall right now, we have to imagine a member of the generation Y - in their early twenties, probably from an emerging market and accessing the network from their smartphone.
As Faris Yakob pointed out, almost a year ago in this TED talk, Facebook has become not only a tool to build our identity online but also the standard to prove and authenticate it. It’s like a signature in the digital space that validates who you say you are. And just like its users, Facebook is evolving.
It’s such an exciting beast. Facebook is constantly exploring new possible streams of business beyond advertising such as Facebook gifts, offers, and even the trial for users to promote their own personal stories demonstrate this effort by Facebook to find an efficient business model for the future. But I guess the big question is how far Facebook is willing to go by leveraging people’s digital identity and behavior.
For those curious about the future of the social network, John Pavley - chief technology officer at the Huffington Post, predicted that the next billion users will be reached by the year 2014 and without a clear strategic direction that could mean the end for the platform. As Pavley says, “The problem is the diminishing value that each new user adds to the Facebook business model. In the run up to two billion, Facebook hopes that each new user will bring in more value than the previous user. But Facebook doesn't know this for sure as it already has more users than it can count.”