1 Billion on Facebook & the Real Meaning for Libraries
Facebook now has 1 Billion active users worldwide but the truly important implication for libraries is Facebook’s nexus of connections.
Facebook’s size matters to libraries because it facilitates connections to much more than friends; connections between people and resources, connections between consumers and products, between individuals and services. Facebook also drives connections in a big way to outside apps (resources, tools).
As of September 2012, one billion people actively use Facebook on a monthly basis. Just earlier this year, Facebook passed the 900 million user mark and there were only one billion people using all social media. Facebook’s size and growth alone makes it of interest to libraries as a near universal platform. However, the true value of consequence is the connections.
A Facebook figure that is perhaps more important for us to take note of is the one hundred and forty billion friend connections on Facebook (Facebook Newsroom via “The Most Important Facebook Number: 140.3 Billion”). Facebook is about connections. Facebook’s ability to make connections continues to grow as does the impact and reach of those connections. There are 140 Billion points of connections between Facebook Friends, an average of one hundred and forty per Facebook user.
It is the ability of Facebook to connect users to resources that should hold our attention. Facebook in May of 2012 reported that it connected one hundred and sixty million users to mobile applications representing more than 150% growth from the first two months of the year. These connections combine to over 1.1 billion users connected with mobile apps from Facebook. These apps can be games, music, business related, or even content resources. Facebook drives connections to apps on a mass scale, making it a significant portal for discovery and completing the above circle of connecting people to resources.
One implication follows that Facebook is a central nexus for connections but not just between people or between libraries and their users. Rather connections between people and tool/brands/products, between individual and services, resources and people.
Libraries’ central concern with Facebook is its powerful role as connector: between people & resources just as much as between peers.
It is also Twitter’s valuable connections and their impact on connected technology ecosystems that make protecting its data beneficial for itself as it cuts off access to more and more partners. Twitter has thrived on its capital of connections which has driven both the reasons for and controversy over recent API controversies and updates to streaming and killing rss.
Note that I have not mentioned using Facebook as a platform for reaching patrons. Having Facebook Pages etc for your library is a good idea, but understanding its impact and weight as a connector is more important.
A Growing Mobile:
The number of Facebook users who access the service via mobile devices has passed half at 600 million. Social engagement, whether it is with our social groupings, our location, our photographs, or content is coming closer and closer to the point of real world and real time engagement as the incorporation of social media at the moment via our smartphones spreads. It is reported that those mobile Facebook users are utilizing over 7,000 different types of mobile devices to access Facebook.
Facebook has made some changes recently in response to troubles it has had with reaping value from its mobile users. Its mobile application had a hard time performing with sufficient speed and was replaced with a faster app to user applause. Facebook’s founder recently put some of the blame for the app’s poor performance on the fact that they had not put as much emphasis on focusing on the mobile experience first as well as on the type of mobile development technology it had used, HTML5.
Photos as conversation:
219 Billion photos have been uploaded to Facebook. Photo sharing is one of the centrally popular activities across social media. It is a now a fundamental consumer behavior that drives much technological development. As visual creatures, there is a human need for engaging and sharing visual elements to our experiences and Facebook reaps huge benefits from this as a central zone for photo sharing. Flickr used to also play a large role in this arena and for the last two years the biggest competitors for user attention in photo sharing have been mobile photo sharing applications, especially Instagram.
Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram reflects an interesting area of evolution. It is widely understood that Instagram’s success in the mobile arena was a key factor in its purchase by Facebook. One of the reasons Instagram is so successful in mobile is that its experience most closely resembles that which mobile consumers respond positively to: visual, time sensitive, and in a controlled stream.
From this info-graphic mentioned earlier, we also learn that location continues to be a popular element to sharing and connection: there have been 17 Billion check-ins and posts for which a location was included. This covers direct location check-ins with the mobile app as well as associating posts (status updates, pictures, etc) with the location at which they occurred. Adding allocation element to social activity was the natural next step in location engagement after Facebook followed Foursquare’s lead in location check ins. Location engagement represents a strong area of opportunity for libraries for which physical space is still important.
Facebook should not be seen as just a destination or a means towards the end of reaching end users. Facebook also functions as a connector and a connections facilitator. Overlapping once more with libraries.
- Joe Murphy Librarian
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