10 years & counting

10 years & counting
There are won­derful video co­llages with dre­amy background music on my ne­wsfeed. We are treated to a flashback with a collection of our best moments based on their popularity. This is the party favour that Facebook is giving all its users for attending the party. Has it really been that long? A decade of sharing, oversharing and profile pictures. Even Mark Zuckerberg, 29, with a net worth of $19 billion, did not envision how his project in a dorm room in Harvard would change the world.

Like me, please

Popularity. A word that we associate with so many mixed feelings. If we are not popular, we scoff at it. Half of all Facebook users have more than 200 friends. Who cares what people think? If we are popular, we are desperate to retain it. Who’s prettier? Who is more intelligent? Who is more accomplished? Who is more successful? Who is funnier? Who is sexier? Bring on the superlatives. Facebook brings it all back to us on the wall. Suddenly we are teenagers again in high school, looking for likes. Looking for acceptance. Though it seems like the ubiquitous “like” button was always there, it was only introduced in 2009. Every other network that follows including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus soon adopted this simple feature. Facebook has changed the way we relate, adapt, imitate and evolve.

One billion and connecting

Friends have found friends they thought they would never find again. Grandparents have finally succumbed to the lure of the net because they can stay in touch. Reunions have been organised. Causes have found their audience. Companies have modified their products. The small business has set up shop. Zuckerberg remarks, “It’s been amazing to see how all of you have used our tools to build a real community. You’ve shared the happy moments and the painful ones. You’ve started new families, and kept spread out families connected. You’ve created new services and built small businesses. You’ve helped each other in so many ways.”

Yes you can

Remember, Obama’s foray into social media during his first campaign? He used Facebook to show the world he was more in touch with his audience than nominee, John McCain. In 2008, 5.4 million people clicked the “I voted” button on his election page. The power of the people to rally together using the site was most pronounced during the Arab Spring toppling regimes.

Brand and the wall

The initial awkwardness that companies felt in the early years has all but disappeared. Carving budgets for sophisticated campaigns on Facebook are nothing new today. Engagement trumps a one-way broadcast and with the introduction of the hashtag, conversations that happen on private walls can be easily monitored. Savvy small businesses understand how to leverage the local network.

Enter the timeline

In September, 2011, Facebook launched a massive content re-haul by introducing the timeline. This visual organisation of user updates is in accordance with the consumption of visual content over text. The timeline also categorises your life by milestones and years. You may forget what you did on December 22, 2009, but Facebook has it recorded for you.

Location. Location. Location

Facebook acquired Gowalla in 2011 to boost and integrate location-based services. It is now easy as apple pie to check-in to the local library, at a concert, a restaurant or a park.

Instagram it

What use is a small start up with a dozen employees to Facebook that it will pay nearly a billion dollars? In a brilliant move, in April, 2012, Facebook claims land in the visual sharing space by acquiring Instagram, a popular photo sharing site with the teens and young adults.

Seek and ye

shall find

In January, 2013, Facebook announced Graph Search which allows users to search the site by phrases rather than keywords. Considering the vast repository of content that a billion and more users can store on the site, investing in a robust search engine was a smart move.

Make way for paper

This Monday, Facebook took a leaf out of Flipboard and launched Paper, an app that contains your Facebook preferences along with a news reader. A good mobile play. Better than the LinkedIn Pulse app, Paper, curates the content based on your preferences. A cool video that embeds voice tips shows you how to use Paper.

Future face

So what can we expect from Facebook in the coming decade? Beyond social chit chat. Zuckerberg envisions using the network for collaborative problem solving. He says, “Today, social networks are mostly about sharing moments. In the next decade, they’ll also help you answer questions and solve complex problems. Today, we have only a few ways to share our experiences. In the next decade, technology will enable us to create many more ways to capture and communicate new kinds of experiences.”

Well, here’s looking at you kid! Thanks for the memories.

(Shaku Selvakumar is a US-based marketing and digital communications expert; and founder of Coeuredge, a digital experience company.)

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