Today was a big day. Not just for Facebook, but for Digital Marketing and Social Media.
When 500 million people do anything, it becomes mass media newsworthy. Today, Facebook made it official: they have 500 million accounts. This makes Facebook the third largest country by population after China and India - and a couple of hundred million ahead of the United States (according to Wikipedia). That being said, we're looking at the wrong metrics. Those are mass media advertising numbers, and they're not a true reflection of what is really happening with Facebook.
Facebook is small.
In fact, Facebook is just a very large bunch of very small connections and communities. According to Facebook's latest statistics, the average user has 130 friends. Marketers are focusing on the 500 million number and wondering how they can get their brands, products and services in front of them. They're not focusing on how complex and tangled the social graph actually is. They're also not focusing on why people connect on Facebook (hint: it is - for the most part - a place to share information with those who aren't overly close with you). These are not people who are idly sitting by and waiting to consume content. They are on Facebook to create, edit, share and tag information (mostly personal information).
Facebook is the new portal... but with a big variance.
In the early days of the Internet, big media companies figured that if they create a destination with great original and aggregated content, people would flock to it... and we did. We always assumed that the Internet was just another media channel, but not a new media channel. Social Media is really about creating things (not just consuming things), so as more and more people join Facebook and connect with friends, family and business associates, it's obvious that this is becoming their homepage. The average user's newsfeed is now way more fascinating than anything they can get on Yahoo! or at CNN. It's their own little newspaper filled with gossip, news, links, pictures and videos of people they know (or are curious about).
Facebook makes us more human.
Like any destination with 500 million members there are going to be issues (from privacy to business strategy and from evil-doers to manipulators). This is a new world and the rules are fuzzy (at best). Along with this, there come a lot of haters and those who will be critical (we like to eat our own). In the end, Facebook makes us better. It has helped to turn technology from something cold that people did instead of meeting with real people to a much more warmer type of technology. Love it or hate it, Facebook makes us all connected (just a little bit more) and that's something to celebrate.
How do you feel about Facebook?