The Future of Social Media: Facebook
We all know the founding story of Facebook, but in case you’re not up to speed, here’s a quick recap:
‘The Facebook’ was founded on 4 February, 2014, in the dorm rooms of Harvard University. Initially its purpose was to allow students to find information on other students of the institution. Within the first month, over half of Harvard’s students were registered on the platform and Zuckerberg decided to make the social network available to other colleges.
In 2006, Zucks opened the platform up to anyone who was 13 years or older who had a valid email address. By late 2007 there were over 20 million users and 100,000 businesses registered on the platform, which sparked the development of a new concept called ‘company pages’. These rolled out in 2009.
The growth of Facebook for individual and business users has been astronomical over the past decade and it is reported that over one billion people are now registered to the platform and over 40 million small businesses have launched a Facebook page.
So how does the future look for Facebook? Will it continue to develop and grow? Of course!
Facebook is a maturing platform and its pattern in demographics proves that. In 2009 only 2.9% of Facebook users were over 55 years old. In 2015 that figure was sitting at 15.6%. What about teenagers though? After all, in 10 years’ time this is who we, as business owners and marketers, will be targeting.
The good news is that, while other platforms are on the rise for the adolescent demographic, Facebook is still the number one site – 71% of teens say they use the site regularly. Furthermore, 41% of those surveyed said that Facebook was their number one choice for social networking, with Instagram and Snapchat growing quickly behind it.
If we look at how Facebook has evolved their offering over the past decade, it’s not hard to see that Zucks and his team are putting plans in place to take over the internet. They want Facebook to be the first website you visit at the start of your day and they don’t want you to leave. The introduction of Facebook stores, video content and instant articles are just a few examples of this. Why would you visit a newspaper’s website when you can just read the news on your Facebook feed? Well played.
So what will Facebook look like in 10 years? Here are a few predictions that Mark Zuckerberg talked through in his recent live fireside chat in Berlin.
Zuckerberg wants to bring the internet to more people and, in turn, more people to Facebook. There are currently 7 billion people in the world and only 3 billion of them are connected to the internet. Zuckerberg wants to work with the relevant companies to bend the curve in who is connected online and is hopeful that, by 2025, 3 billion will be sitting closer to 7 billion.
In the next 10 years, Facebook wants to “build systems that are better than people at perception”. At the moment, the challenge is ‘unsupervised learning,’ where machines can infer what they don’t know about and have no positive or negative reinforcement for providing a solution. That’s a bigger picture problem though, and Facebook is focusing its attention on voice recognition, self driving cars and bot software.
Facebook wants to build true human-like interactions between man and machine. It will be able to interpret intent from natural language and develop over time. An example is, when you type ‘I’m hungry’ a bot can pick that up and offer to order you the sandwich that you always get from your local sandwich bar. You will no longer need to find your customers, a bot will literally delver them to you. Madness.
Virtual and augmented reality
Zuckerberg: “I think virtual reality has the potential to be the most social platform, because you feel like you’re right there with the person.” Preceding this, he had shown a video of two people playing a game in the same VR room, yet neither of them were anywhere near each other while they were playing. Weird!
Zuckerberg admits that VR and AR are still at least 10 years off, but similar to the mainstream introduction of the smartphone, they expect that the update will be a game changer.
Facebook is currently the most dominant player in social media and its future plans are to ensure that this doesn’t change. It is continuously growing the user base and constantly working to offer users more features and functionality so users never have to leave the site.
And just remember, while Zuckerberg’s top three predictions for the future may seem a little out of reach for your business at the moment, in 2006 so was the prospect of a smartphone.