Feb 14, 2014

Facebook Turned 10 - Should Your Business Be Celebrating?

Facebook started in 2004 in a Harvard dorm room, and is now a global network with almost 1.2 billion active users. And while it may be the top place to find Buzzfeed quizzes, wedding and baby photos, and funny videos of cats, is it still the right avenue for businesses looking to connect with customers?

A Decade of Facebook

There is no doubt that Facebook has been the dominant social network in recent years. It started as a network for college students, but now welcomes users from all over the world (even from behind China’s Great Firewall). But as parents and older users continue to flock to the social network, teens are leaving or using it less and less, and instead are turning to other networks like Instagram and Snapchat (Facebook purchased the former, but was rejected by the latter).

Despite some demographic changes, Facebook is still a success – partly due to their embrace of mobile. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees that they would be a “mobile-first” company in early 2012. Some initiatives didn’t go so well – Facebook Home, anyone? – but it is now rolling out a new line of apps to keep this momentum going. Facebook gets over half its revenue from mobile, so we can expect changes and experimentation in mobile and social in the future as Facebook continues to focus and expand this area.

On its tenth birthday, Facebook announced a new app called Paper that provides a new layout for “beautiful storytelling” that reflects the most recent web trend towards big images and, more importantly, towards personalisation. Paper allows you to create customised sections based on interests and themes, similar to the popular app Flipbook. Your Facebook News Feed is one of those sections but there isn’t quite enough customisation within the News Feed section of Paper to make it really worthwhile, I think. Still, it shows where Facebook is going in the future and how it is attempting to remain flexible in a change web environment.  

Facebook for Business

But what about Facebook for business? Some things have been a big failure – f-Commerce comes to mind – but the social network has added many new features in recent years to attract business pages to the website (e.g. Graph Search, Page Insights, Hashtags). Now, advertising is leading the pack. Facebook ads are important not only for the social network’s revenue stream, but also for organisations looking to connect with Facebook users. With a mix of ads and sponsored posts within News Feeds, Facebook will continue to experiment with new ways of attracting businesses of all sizes to advertise on the network.

So should you celebrate? Yes!

Social networks are a channel to connect with customers on mobile, desktop, tablets and beyond. A successful social strategy takes creativity, nimble thinking and continuous engagement (and improvements), but it’s an opportunity to connect and share in a meaningful way. Don’t blow that opportunity.

Food for thought:

Facebook was the most active social network in 2013. Coming in second? Google+, with YouTube at third place. Surprised? No social network can dominate forever...

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