It all started ten years ago, 4 February 2004, when a Harvard University student devised an idea that made the world more open and connected. With a group of peers he started out connecting with his fellow students, with a vision that later on he would invite other schools and perhaps further down the track, the world. Now his creation is a socially altering, online phenomenon. This is of course the story of Mark Zuckerberg and what started out as “The Facebook”.
After dropping the “The” and deciding that a social network could be in the interest of the world outside of the Ivy League, Facebook became the defining factor of social media, maybe even a key driver of the digital age. Most people will probably have a hard time recalling a period when we didn’t take social media updates into consideration – a time when liking didn’t involve clicking and when sharing was something you did with cake. 1.23 billion is about the size of India’s population, but it’s also the number of Facebook’s monthly active users, making it the largest social media platform in the world. For those of you who crave more numbers, here’s a few:
The last ten years have resulted in 150 billion friend connections;
1.13 trillion likes since the start;
A user population where 76% log on every day;
An average of 8.3 active hours per user every month.
The fact is that the world has become more connected, Facebook IS the platform where people all over the world catch up, connect with new people or simply let off some steam. Mark Zuckerberg’s vision could not have been better realised.
But now what? Another ten years on Facebook? That’s a good question. There is what has been known as the “teen problem”, where teenagers supposedly leave Facebook for other platforms, and a recent, although criticised, study from Princeton University tells us that the social network could lose 80% of its users by 2017.
Zuckerberg has admitted that he has been too slow to take advantage of mobile, resulting in mobile friendly platforms such as Snapchat, Twitter and Whatsapp giving the older platform a hard time in an age when an increasing number of people have smartphones. Buying Instagram was a smart move, but is that enough?
The company puts much hope in its slick newspaper app called “Paper”, aiming at capturing smartphone-wielding newsreaders. As one of the main features on Facebook’s new ten year plan, it provides a taste of what the future may look like. Trying to include everything into one package, Facebook forced competitors into finding niches, something that has been quite lucrative for some.
Perhaps in the future we’ll see a slightly more fragmented Facebook, locating those niches and taking on competitors on all fronts. Only time will tell if this is a successful approach.
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Image courtesy: Veluben, Wikimedia Commons, Rockbleeder.blogspot