Author: Ian Mariani
After 219 billion photos uploaded, 140 billion friend connections made and 1.13 trillion “likes,” the world’s largest social media site has hit the next big milestone. Last Thursday, Facebook Inc., the Harvard dorm startup from 2004 that has redefined social media , announced that it had finally joined the one billion club. And while some critics still choose to liken Facebook to Myspace and point to its failed IPO as a signal of its eventual downfall, this milestone by the eight year-old juggernaut can only really signal one thing. Facebook is here to stay.
To understand the implications of this amazing feat, one need only consider Facebook’s arguably biggest competitor: Google. The search engine giant hit the one billion unique user benchmark in 2011, and in the process has created everything from the largest registry of web content to the colloquial verb by which people refer to all internet searches. But the company was started in 1998, which makes the much younger Facebook’s rate of growth all the more impressive.
In addition, Facebook announced that its median user age had decreased from 23, which it had reported at the 500 million user mark in 2010, to 22. In the space of only two years, Facebook attracted enough members from the 13-22 demographic to bump its median down. Facebook is reportedly designing a Facebook youth model to begin to incorporate those too young to legally bind themselves to an account. It is worth noting that a younger market is not guaranteed to generate revenue in the same pattern that an older group does, as parent permission would be required for any third-party apps and external advertisements.
To remain relevant, Facebook can coast, at least for the moment. A large concern explored by both the Washington Post and Forbes is Facebook’s ability to survive in an increasingly mobile market. As cell phone data plans become cheaper than ever, Facebook has reported that 600 million users are currently using various Facebook mobile apps. That’s with apps that are heavily criticized in their respective markets: currently, Apple’s Facebook App carries a dismal two-star rating.
What it comes down to is that, for what Facebook is, there is no alternative. Sure, the stream-of-consciousness updaters moved to Twitter and the die-hard pop-culture fans moved to BuzzFeed and Tumblr, but the content can often converge on Facebook. Forbes shared a survey of 400 social media experts, in which 85 percent of those surveyed said the Facebook was still their primary social media site. 75 percent said that they found at least one interesting link a day on Facebook. With literally one-seventh of the world on Facebook, virility is almost a given with anything that has the potential to incite a reaction.
With one billion active users in his pocket (only eight percent of which are fake users), Mark Zuckerberg’s fight is to stay hip. As long as Facebook remains the ideal forum on which to share a good news article or a cute kitten picture, Facebook will be fine. Only seven percent of the Forbes’ survey said that they thought Facebook would be dead in 10 years. And why would it be? To draw from a famous Bon Jovi saying, “one billion Facebook users can’t be wrong.”
Ian Mariani is a junior DWA major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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