If you thought checking out your profile on Facebook (FB) is still for you, your family and friends’ viewing pleasure alone, think again. Facebook is the biggest social media networking site in the world with over 845 million users – i.e. roughly 11 per cent of the world’s total population. On any given day, FB registers 500 million users who return to check their profiles daily and of those 500, 425 million, check out the site on their cellphones alone.
With these staggering statistics to fall back on, it is hardly a surprise that anyone even remotely in the business of communication – be it corporate houses, media houses, advertising agencies, television channels, movie makers and more are now using Facebook for building brands; image enhancement; track trends in media and entertainment; interact with customers in real time to customize products based on feedback. Effectively, Facebook has shown what social media can achieve in today’s shrinking world, which is increasingly dependent on technology.
For Carolyn Everson, Vice President Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook, these figures are only indicative of one thing, “that humans have a basic need to connect.” Speaking at a session during the recently concluded FICCI Frames 2012, Everson also mentioned that “people love to share news, music and stories.”
More and more people are gaming through Zynga – the maker of online games such as ‘Farmville’ and ‘Words with Friends’ available on FB. This trend of sharing is not new though and no different from how it was in the early days of mankind, according to an anthropologist who studied the patterns emerging in FB and shared his findings. Says Everson, “People have always lived in networks (read groups) – of family, friends and clients, and sharing has always been a critical part of that networking.”
Increasingly used as a very effective tool by advertisers and marketers around the world, Facebook is so important because “it is the only place on the internet where the individual remains important.” It creates a social graph of the brands a user prefers; things, products that he/she likes or dislikes making it easier for the experts to cash in on the trends and observe the rapidly evolving dynamics. “But there are regulations in place,” according to Everson. “Each brand owner has to be a great content provider and will be visible to the user only when the user decides to navigate to his page and newsfeed.”
Not only this, FB is also being used for reaching out to people for causes. There is an increase in organ donations; adoptions and reports of lost children being found through Facebook - the last of which was reported in an Indian National daily recently! Cause related pages are being created every day and finding their unique users. From ads to stories, FB is now being used to “reach out to millions by the minute through ‘like’ and ‘update’ buttons.
But there is a flipside. How does Facebook combat/monitor objectionable content? “We have teams in place to pro-actively monitor any negative or objectionable content appearing on the site,” comments Everson. “At Facebook the community regulates what is important, what is acceptable and what is not.”