This week’s lesson is about the history of social media and the future. The question has been posed by many media experts and researchers, are social media valuable?
The simple and complicated answer is yes. Social network sites have created a new way for the world to communicate with one another. Facebook, the largest social network today, is actually competing with Google. It seems strange to think that two somewhat different sites are in competition with one another. It may seem like apples and oranges, but it is closer to oranges and satsumas. Satsumas are similar to oranges in size and climate, but they are just a little bit sweet. This is close to the Google-Facebook relationship. It isn’t a full blown competition yet, but Facebook isn’t afraid of Google. Google at one time tried to acquire Facebook, or at least invest in them and failed.
It may be lazy, but an article from the chapter’s readings really stood out to me. So, I’m going to reference it here. I will be honest and admit that the Google-Facebook competition never crossed my mid. However, after reading that article I realized it only makes sense. The article was written in 2009 around the time Facebook began its meteoric rise to stardom. Since then, Facebook has grown significantly with over 1 BILLION members. That’s right, Facebook has over 1 billion, with a B, active users. This means that if Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd most populated in the world, passing the United States of America.
Here is a timeline of Facebook’s history detailing their rise to global dominance over social network sites.
The article from the reading had several interesting tidbits of information about the direction Facebook was taking in 2009. The amount of information that Facebook and Google have been compiling over the last decade is significant. The only problem that exists is how to turn all this personal information into targeted ads.
The one thing that still separates Facebook from Google is the amount of freely shared private information by its users. Millions of Facebook users post private information on a daily basis. This is still much in debate for Facebook. Facebook has tried on few occasions to use the information for marketing purposes. These efforts were seen by users as an invasion of privacy, and ultimately were retracted by Facebook.
So, what is the future for social networks? That is much more complicated than most people think. I personally don’t believe there will be another Facebook for the next 10 years. Unless something as revolutionary comes along, I see Facebook remaining on top. The only thing that is stopping them is revenue. Facebook still doesn’t generate the revenue that Google does, even as a public company. Google still reigns supreme in terms of global advertising revenue. This article written by Vikram Nagarkar shows several fields that Facebook is expanding faster than Google. However, Google still holds a significant lead in the overall amount of global ad-spends.
Personally I believe each social media platform serves a different purpose. Each of them contain the social aspect, but they are used in many different ways. In the Great Wall of Facebook article the author writes,
“It has a massive storehouse of user data, but every time it tries to capitalize on that information, its members freak out.”
This line stands out to me because this is the HUGE problem that marketers have in the digital age. Digital media have created new ways we communicate with consumers. However, can we access that plethora of information without an invasion of privacy is the question. The reason that Facebook users always have problems with their data mining is because Facebook is still viewed by users as private. Believe it or not, but most Facebook users think of the site as a place where you can put your offline social life online. So, marketers that use Twitter and Google information aren’t seen as invading privacy because it isn’t personal. Facebook is personal. Users create a Page unique to their interests and life. They can also find other people from their lives to communicate. Facebook isn’t the place to directly communicate with users. The best way to market to Facebook users is to create content and then have them find you. Facebook offers tips for businesses. Google is just a search engine; it serves a specific purpose. You can find factual information on Google. Facebook is mostly opinion. If you want to know when game 4 of the NBA finals starts you go to Google. If you want to see what people are saying about the game and the match up, you go to Facebook, or Twitter. Facebook and Google are information gold mines, but for different reasons. People don’t put their thoughts, feelings, and emotions on Google. Nobody is being trolled for an offensive search history; they are trolled on Facebook.