When the whole “social networking” thing first started to become popular in the summer of 2004, I was one of the first persons in my class to sign up for MySpace. At that time, it was the only “must join” social network because Facebook was only available at select colleges.
All of my friends thought I was stupid for signing up for a MySpace account to meet and collect e-friends, but I had an intuition that there was something worthwhile, not to mention efficient, about networking online. Over the next two years, I collected over 500 friends on MySpace despite never seeing the benefit of having so many friends for only “social” reasons.
Peace Out, MySpace
After becoming progressively more frustrated with the useless Myspace comment banter, I deleted my account in December of 2006 and haven’t looked back since. A month later, I started my personal blog, NateWhitehill.com. Social networking for me evolved from MySpace to blogging; one of the best decisions I have ever made was to migrate my social networking to my blog.
It didn’t take long for me to see the benefits from networking through my blog compared to networking through MySpace. Instead of people seeking me out for purely social reasons (e.g., an ex-girlfriend), people were seeking me out for professional reasons. This eventually led to a realization that I could market my products and services exclusively through the Internet and thus save thousands of dollars of marketing costs.
Given where I am at in my life – professional development is much more important to me than socializing, partying, or dating. In other words, I found my blog to be much more beneficial than MySpace as a professional networking tool, even more so than LinkedIn, which I have also used, but not quite seen the benefit from.
What About Facebook?
Ever since Facebook opened their registration to everyone, my sister and many others have encouraged me to sign up. As a result of my useless Myspace experience, I never saw value in signing up for another social service that provided little-to-no professional benefit.
To get to the point of this story, I never thought I would say this, but I finally signed up for Facebook and have to say that I have been VERY impressed.
Why did I sign up? Our team is in the beginning stages of developing a web application, and what better place to study what works and what doesn’t than on one of the most widely used web apps on the net – Facebook. Not to mention, but with 50 million users and a new platform for delivering highly-targeted Ads, Facebook looks very attractive from a marketing perspective.
Mark Zuckerberg Deserves To Be A Billionaire
Facebook really took off in 2004 when Harvard freshman Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college in order to develop the application full-time. Within 7 months of launch, Facebook had over one million college students actively using the network. Three years later, over 57 million people are actively using Facebook, including over 200 people from my graduating class!
Check out this growth chart of Facebook’s users over the past three years:
Facebook has been averaging over 250,000 new registrations per day since January of 2007 and active users are DOUBLING every 6 months!
To me, what makes Facebook much more legitimate than Myspace are several things:
- Instantly when you register, it more easily facilitates finding old friends and other people you know. Case in point, within 24 hours of signing up for Facebook (and not even publicly announcing it to anyone), I received over 30 friend requests from people I know.
- The demographic of Facebook is much more mature than MySpace. According to Facebook’s own statistics, more than half of Facebook users are outside of college. Not only that, but the fastest growing demographic is those 25 years old and older.
- The applications built into Facebook, such as photo and event sharing, are light years ahead of MySpace.
- The Facebook Developer Platform provides for an infinite number of marketing and data collection possilibites.
- With the new Facebook Ads platform, you can reach a niche audience with relevant and highly-targeted ads and optimize your site with onsite analytics.
- There is less risk of encountering fraudulent users on Facebook compared to MySpace.
Facebook As An Application
I am sure this is not news to most of you who use Facebook, but the technologies, networking tools, and web applications built into it are incredibly intuitive and advanced.
Facebook’s photo sharing application is the most widely used one on the Web (according to comScore). This puts it ahead of other applications including Flickr and PhotoBucket, which reminds me… PhotoBucket sold earlier this year for $250 million.
Probably the coolest thing about Facebook is that it is a platform on which others can build applications. There are currently over 7,000 applications that have been built on Facebook. Applications can do everything from displaying quotes of your friend’s favorite pop artists to allowing you to showcase your recent blog posts on the Facebook profile (like I do).
I was so impressed with Facebook that I took time to watch the young Facebook CEO give a 45-minute keynote speech at the f8 Developer Conference. If you want to check out this soon-to-be billionaire give a great speech to over 800 developers, check out this link: f8 Keynote.
Facebook’s Professional Benefits
From a professional and business marketing standpoint, Facebook appears to be much more useful than MySpace. We all know that a huge majority of people using MySpace are high-schoolers, whereas Facebook’s user base consists more of college-aged individuals and adults.
Facebook allows one to create special Pages for businesses or brands. I created a Facebook Page for Unique Blog Designs, and instead of accumulating friends, we have fans. (Click here to become a Facebook fan of Unique Blog Designs.) Our Facebook page seems like it will fit well into our marketing mix as we now have another avenue to communicate with past and future clients.
Young Entrepreneurs Are Inspiring
A huge part of what motivated me to get involved in making money online was from other young and successful entrepreneurs. It was November of 2006 when I first became intrigued with Zuckerberg’s success, and it was through researching him that I stumbled upon Digg and eventually John Chow’s blog. It was through John’s blog that I became inspired to start my personal blog…and here I am, 11 months later, involved in my most successful and fulfilling business enterprise to date (UBD).
Late last year (2006), Zuckerberg turned down a $1.6 billion buyout offer from Yahoo. Some would say he is stupid, but maybe he is just that much smarter. A month ago (October, 2007), Microsoft purchased a
5% 1.6& equity share in Facebook for $240 million.
By this measure, Facebook’s actual value is
between $5-10 billion $15 billion, which is almost as much as worth more than MTV! All this for a company that was conceived only three years ago!.
Zuckerberg still possesses a roughly 30% share in the company, so when and *IF* Facebook sells, Zuckerberg will very likely be one of the youngest billionaires in history! The other option is of course, Facebook going public which will also make Mark a very well-off individual.
I suppose that most people would expect that a geek like me would be all over what many people call the coolest web application on the Internet. Honestly, it is surprising even to me that I didn’t sign up for Facebook earlier. Reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones is done much more easily and professionally through Facebook.
Even though Facebook is light years ahead of MySpace as far as technologies, application, networking tools, and professional benefits, in my opinion, Facebook is still dwarfed by the tremendous professional benefit that one can achieve through personal blogging. I will save that comparison for a future article when I have had more time to evaluate Facebook.
If you want to be my friend on Facebook, you know what to do.
Corrections made: Microsoft purchased a 1.6% equity share in Facebook for $240 million, making Facebook worth approximately $15 billion, which is more than MTV. On paper, Mark Zuckerberg is worth several billion dollars.