There are many Web 2.0 media that have contributed to the broad spectrum of communication, as we know today. Some examples are MySpace, Facebook, BitTorrent, Napster, Wikis, Google AdSense, and Flickr. Facebook appeals to many people because in a sense it has features that reflect other sites. There are applications that make the site fun, interactive, and more personable than other sites. The array of people that Facebook reaches is phenomenal hence the amount of new users annually. Facebook has evolved considering in 2004 it was only accessible on the Harvard campus. There are many aspects of the site that make it such a popular social network today.
Facebook is a social network that has many applications that keep users coming back for more. Some of the popular features that Facebook has to offer are wall postings, status updates, private messaging, and plenty of applications to keep busy for hours. Applications are programs that make Facebook so fascinating and addicting. These programs include but are not limited to photo sharing, groups, events, market place, graffiti, free gifts, and bumper stickers. An anchor for Facebook would have to be the photo sharing capabilities. It allows for photos to be uploaded effortlessly and the option to tag whoever was involved in the event. Tagging is simply putting a name to a face in pictures. Picture sharing is a popular feature because it allows for the user to show some side of their life that may or may not reflect them. Pictures mold users and give others a better understanding of this person. This is a good way to keep family and friends up to date on your personal life.
Other great applications that have made Facebook stand out are groups, events and the marketplace. Anyone can create a group on Facebook. This allows for diverse and distinct groups to be created. There are groups that range from politics to winter sports on Facebook. These groups are created to entertain and to involve users. Being part of groups gives users the sense of acceptance. We all like to be involved in some sort of community-based environment. Groups give users the opportunity to connect with others with similar interests, backgrounds, or views. This is important because, if no one on Facebook could relate would it be an affective social network? Event planning can be done on Facebook as well. There is an application where you can create an event and send it to whoever you want. This is a great feature for personal use as well as business use. For business purposes this is a great way to promote and advertise because it reaches thousands of users and it is free. An application that is very diverse and covers an array of subjects is the marketplace. Capabilities on the marketplace consists of selling items, wanted item ads, housing, and free stuff as well. These are all great technological affordance that Facebook offer its users and viewers.
There are many functions that Facebook has to offer its users. Of course Facebook is a social networking site and that is a big “function” but, there is so much more to the social networking scene. Being able to keep in contact with friends and family is a key to this site. There will always be horror stories that surface on every site such as Tracy Clark-Flory’s article about a pro-anorexia (pro-ana). Clark-Flory’s article Facebook status update: I’m anorexic, is about a pro-ana sites groups on Facebook that promote unhealthy eating habits. This is a downfall to the openness that Facebook allows but gives users the sense of virtual community.
Taking a college kid for example would be a great example. Johnny goes off to college and wants to keep in contact with friends from back home as well as family. It is easy to send private messages to mom and dad telling them about school. Convenient and fast to send them a message if he needs something or wanted to tell them about something that happened to him in the dorm, that he might be ashamed to let everyone know about. Johnny receives a message from his cousin in Florida and soon finds out from his cousin’s pictures that she has a baby on the way. They can post comments back and forth on the each other’s walls and catch up. The pictures from both parties allowed them to see what the other has been up to lately if anything at all. Johnny goes out one weekend and has pictures that he does not want his parents to see so he creates a new album using the photo application. This album allows Johnny to select who he wants to be able to view the album and limits other from viewing it. After all, Johnny’s parents would not be happy where the money went that they just sent him. Johnny logs into Facebook one day and notices his friends all joining the group, “Dutch Quad Is The Best”. Johnny joins the group and sees a couple people that he has seen around his quad and of course his roommates are in the group as well. This is a great way to network and meet new people on the quad. Then Johnny gets an invitation to an event in his hall where he meets Jill. They have fun that night and Johnny changes his profile to “in a relationship with Jill”. Jill buys Johnny his favorite movie, Bad Boys II, because she read Johnny’s interest section on his page. Then Johnny gets a call from his parents asking who is the girl that he “in a relationship” with? All this is possible because of the many features and applications that Facebook has to offer.
The Demographics for Facebook are very broad and consists of over 26 million users alone in the United States (istrategylabs.com). Istrategylabs.com’s article, Facebook Demographics 2008 Update – It’s Getting Older In There, breaks down United States users into several categories. Istrategylabs is a site that does content creation services and experimental marketing (istrategylabs.com). According to istrategylabs over 14 million of the 26 million users are in the age range of 18 to 24, that’s nearly 54 percent. Surprisingly the most users in the United States are from New York. Istrategylabs surveyed over 1 million users coming from New York alone. One important statistic gained from this survey is that over 11 million users are in college or alumni. In 2004 when Facebook first opened its doors to social networking it was only available to college students. This is most likely why the statistics are still so high for college and alumni compared to other sub-categories. An interesting fact from this data as well is the biggest interest on Facebook which is “Music”. Most believe that Facebook’s popularity is only going to grow and take over sites such as MySpace (Hinchcliffe). These are the most current demographics taken June 18, 2008 (istrategylabs.com).
These numbers are going to take off considering the efforts of Facebook trying to go global. Regions where Facebook have launched in already are Canada, United Kingdom, and Germany (facebook.com). In 2008, Facebook released over 20 additional language applications (facebook.com). There are going to limitless connections that could happen amongst all these networks, once they are all up and going. Facebook has done a great job of expanding and really putting a though on social networking.
There are hundreds of reasons why people use Facebook. Assuming the population that uses it the most being 18 to 24, the use of Facebook is closely related to awareness. This age group is in a way obsessed with knowing what their friends are doing or letting people know what they are doing. The status update is at the top of every page and is tempting every user when they sign on to write what they are doing at that split second. Whether the status is for what one is doing over the weekend or what the day has planned ahead, it is constantly changing. A status update can lead a user to sign on and change their own or to see what their friends are up to. This is an easy, effortless way of managing friends and family member’s schedules without the stalker view some may perceive of you. Users sign on at least once a day maybe several times per day. This can be viewed as being in touch with other or as an addiction. It is hard to go on Facebook for one thing now. It use to be easy with the old format because it was not taunting you to look at everyone’s new pictures. Now as soon as one signs on the status box is at the top and then there is a list of friends updates that follow. This is a fantastic way to see what friends are doing and try to make plans with them. Again, there are too many reasons why people use Facebook.
According to Ryan Scoble’s blog, he uses it because it is more personal. He compares to Facebook to LinkedIn, Twitter, Pownce, and Jaiku (Scoble). He says that LinkedIn does not suit his needs because too many people try to “link” to him because of his popularity (Scoble). This did not work for him and he went on to join Facebook. He said he liked Facebook a lot because you can separate contacts (Scoble). He has business contacts and he has personal contacts (Scoble). This is why Ryan Scoble uses Facebook and why it works for him. Of course there may be more that leads to his favoritism of Facebook over other sites but this is what appealed to him. Facebook has come a long way since 2004 and now appeals to a much larger market.
Facebook was created in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin (facebook.com). At first it was only available on their Harvard campus but soon expanded to Stanford, Columbia, and Yale (facebook.com). By the end of 2004 Facebook has almost one million users (facebook.com).
In 2005 they achieve great heights when expanding to over 800 college networks and open up to high school networks as well (facebook.com). At the end of 2005 Facebook has added international school networks, photo application is in position, and over 5 million active users are part of the site (facebook.com). They raise nearly $13 million from Accel partners in venture capital (facebook.com).
In 2006 Facebook raises over $27 million, adds work networks, and the mobile application is launched (facebook.com). The work networks are great because this opens up many avenues for employees to network outside of the work atmosphere. The mobile application allows for users to access Facebook on their phones and stay connected wherever they go. Along with the feed and mini feed being added in 2006 this is when Facebook finally is a totally open network and anyone can join. The feed system is important because this is how people are updated about their friend’s activities, events, and future events. Along with 12 million active users at the end of 2006 Facebook now have over 20 partner sites that are affiliated with the site (facebook.com).
In 2007 this was a tremendous year for expanding. Facebook had over 2 million Canadian users as well as 1 million United Kingdom users (facebook.com). This is a big event because Facebook is now connecting people around the world. This is a crazy thought considering just a couple years back it was only on the Harvard campus. Hosting 20 million users Facebook now offers over 85 applications and are teamed up with over 65 developer partners (facebook.com). Closing the year out with over 50 million users Facebook also has Microsoft aboard and working with them as well (facebook.com).
Facebook took networking to a whole new level when they decided in 2008 to expand to French, Spanish, and German. Later in the year they decided to release over 21 different language applications (facebook.com). This is a great feature to really put an emphasis on networking. Facebook not only exists in the United States but in other countries as well and they are giving people of different backgrounds the opportunity to experience Facebook as well. An interesting application that Facebook came out with in 2008 as well is the “chat” application. This allows for users that are currently on Facebook to chat with one another. This is trying to act like the modern day AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Again Facebook is breaking into another niche of technology. These are the events over the past years that have accumulated to what Facebook is today.
Who would have thought that a Harvard based networking site would grow to over 50 million users less than 5 years later? None of this would be possible if the demand for a user friendly networking site was not on such a high demand. Yes, there was MySpace and other Web 2.0 sites that were out and growing. Not any of those sites could compare to what Facebook has built today. This site leaves user lost in a world that begs for more. Every other day it seems there is something new on Facebook with users waiting to eat it up. Just makes many wonder what is Facebook going to add next? These are the things that have made Facebook the giant network they are today and will push them forward in the future.
Clark-Flory, Tracy. (2008) Facebook Status Update: I’m Anorexic. Retrieved November 28, 2008, from http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2008/11/26/proana_facebook/index.html
Facebook.com. (2008). Company Timeline. Retrieved November 28, 2008 from http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?timeline
Hinchcliffe, Dion. (2007) Facebook set to overtake MySpace? Retrieved November 28, 2008 from http://blogs.zdnet.com/Hinchcliffe/?p=137
iStrategyLabs. (2007) Facebook Demographics 2008 Update- It’s Getting Older In There. Retrieved November 28, 2008 from http://www.istrategylabs.com/facebook-demographics-2008-update-its-getting-older-in-there/
Kirkpatrick, David. (2006) Why Facebook Matters. Retrieved November 28, 2008 from http://money.cnn.com/2006/10/06/magazines/fortune/fastforward_facebook.fortune/index.htm
Scoble, Robert. (2007). Why Facebook, why now? Retrieved November 28, 2008 from http://scobleizer.com/2007/07/12/why-facebook-why-now/