Facebook is a free social networking website that makes it easy for people to connect and share with family and friends online. The social media platform incorporates a newsfeed of aggregated stories, posts, photos and videos from friends — all updated in real time. The timeline functionality on a user’s profile page organizes life events in chronological order, making it easy to jump back and forth between years of history with the click of a button. The website also utilizes a direct messaging component so that messages can be shared privately with other users on the site. Using Facebook, a user can accept or deny friend requests, “like” pages of interest, join groups, and create, as well as, RSVP to events. The website is also accessible on mobile devices and tablets, through apps, available on iTunes and Google Play.
While attending Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg, a 23-year-old sophomore psychology major, launched “thefacebook.com.” It was February 4, 2004. (How the World Changed)His mission: to give people the power to share, and make the world more open and connected. The platform instantly became viral, with 1500 registrations in the first 24 hours of launching. Although popular from the start, controversy has shrouded the media outlet since inception. Just one week after the site went ‘live’, three other Harvard students claimed that Zuckerberg had stolen the idea. (More on accusations).
According to online sources, the first investor was Eduardo Saverin, a classmate of Zuckerberg’s. Covering the early capital expenses, he also invested $15,000 for servers at the beginning of 2004. The second investor, Peter Thiel, supplied $500,000 several months later, with other investors soon following. Initially limited to Harvard students, thefacebook.com rapidly expanded throughout Boston’s Ivy League, then through Canada and the U.S. In 2004, Zuckerberg relocated to Palo Alto, California. Shortly after that, the company dropped ‘the’ in the name completely, officially becoming Facebook. The domain purchase, made in 2005, totaled $200,000. By 2006, Facebook had opened membership to everyone over the age of 13, with valid email address. In 2008, Facebook had 100 million members. In 2013, the site set up their international headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. The most recent analytics indicate continued growth for the platform. As of October 2014, Facebook had 1.35 billion monthly active users, increasing year over year by 14%. They had 864 million daily active users, 19% year over year growth, and they reported 4.5 billion ‘likes’ generated daily. Even with a 6.5 million drop in users 13 to 24 years old, Facebook experienced growth, acquiring 10.8 million new users in the 25 to 34 age range. (More).
What started as a social media channel only available to college students, became a global phenomenon. With over one billion active users, one could consider anyone over the age of 13 part of Facebook’s target market. A study done by Pingdom in 2012 found that 65 percent of users on Facebook are 35 or older. According to the study, only 14 percent of Facebook users are under the age of 24. 60 percent are female and 40 percent male. 57 percent of users are college educated, with 24 percent of those having completed either a bachelors or graduate degree. The social network is present in 137 countries. Despite the fact, that only half of the United States population use the service, the U.S. still has the highest amount of users. 56 percent of Taiwan’s population are on Facebook, which is the largest percentage of a country. Other growing markets include Brazil and India. In Zuckerberg’s ten-year plan, he states that they will be aggressively working toward his original mission, connecting the entire world through Internet.org, multiple platforms and the next generation of computing.
Facebook’s platform is user-centric and easy to navigate. With just a few clicks of the mouse, and some basic information, Facebook pages are created with ease. Create a profile, search for friends, and start posting statuses with posts, pictures, and videos in minutes. From there, you can visit a friend’s wall or just scroll through the newsfeed. ‘Like’ statuses, posts, and comments, and make comments of your own.
According to a 2012 study titled, “Why do people use Facebook?”, the platform has become an accepted means of communication, a virtual social gathering. Facebook meets two primary human needs: the need to belong and the need for self-presentation. Users have three basic capabilities: create a public profile, compile a list of other users that they feel connected to, and view and track those connections. Beyond that, they can also design, through posts and pictures, a representation of their life, and present it to their ‘Friends.’
Through the Communication Theory, the process of communication is defined by Who (says), What (to), Whom (in), What Channel (with), and What Effect, Facebook’s status mimics just that. Users post what they are doing, check in where they are at, tag who they are with and how that makes them feel. People communicate with each other through status updates. If users are dissatisfied with posting casual, daily occurrences, they can start a revolution, use it as a social or political platform, or challenge the world to act.
It all starts here: Facebook
Facebook provides a host of built-in analytics tools for advertisers. The insights into a page’s performance become available after a minimum of 30 people have liked the page. Unlike personal pages, a business profile includes robust analytics tools that allow marketers to study the number of likes, clicks, comments, shares, and overall engagement a given page has received. The analytics also provide geographical and interest information of fans, so that advertisers can see where people live and the interests of those individuals. When combined, this information paints a picture of the audience. All data can also be measured against previous months to measure trends in performance.
On business pages, an analytics summary is included on the right-hand side of the screen and indicates the number of new likes, the number of people who are talking about the page and an overall summary of weekly total reach. The data is supplemented with either a green “up” arrow or red “down” arrow to indicate trends in performance. Facebook Insights
Facebook’s business model(s) have been the subject of many articles and discussions on the Internet. Some research claim that Facebook works absent of a model, (more), others say Facebook created their own. Two of the most referenced models are: the network effects model, where the value of a product to one user depends on how many other users there are; and, of course, the advertising model, which is where revenue comes from people looking to promote services to the audience rather than the actual consumers. Some critics hate it. Others refer to it as brilliant. Mark Sullivan wrote, “…when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product.” (More) Wired’s, Marcus Wohlsen, asked in “The future of the Internet is still ads — and you’re the inventory,” if Internet companies get better at targeting ads, will their big, brand-name clients continue to spend more money on ads? He thinks that Facebook’s investors are expecting this, and “it might create an Internet that’s so “personalized” that it feels creepy.” With Facebook’s business model so heavily focused on ad revenue, it tends to create a platform so overly occupied with advertisements that it will be difficult to find any content.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
While the social media platform remains the most popular in the world, Facebook faces fierce competition from other channels like Twitter, Instagram, and Ello. The average age of a Facebook user is steadily increasing, and younger people have indicated preferences to other platforms. In fact, TIME reported that more than 11 million young people have fled Facebook since 2011.
Users have also expressed frustration with the inundation of advertisements on the website. Once ad-free, it is now hard to turn away from the ads that have penetrated the newsfeeds of users. While Facebook does its best to ensure the advertisements are relevant to the user, this may not always be the case. Users have expressed frustration over the appearance of ads in their newsfeeds—especially if and when the ads themselves are entirely irrelevant.
Despite these weaknesses, Facebook is home to more than a billion users worldwide and remains the most popular social network of all. This popularity may be due to the combination of ease-of-use, cohesive design, and continued innovation on Facebook’s behalf.
ADDITIONAL ARTICLES & LINKS
Early article about Facebook • Mashable 2006.
How to use Facebook • The Basics • Watch Video!
Facebook for Business • Here!
Newsfeed Reach • The Filtered Feed Problem.
3 Reasons Facebook Isn’t Hip with Teens Anymore • Here!
Information, stats, and guidance on marketing businesses • Here!
Facebook strengths’ and weaknesses 2013 SWOT
The Social Intelligence Report