The humble beginnings of Facebook launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg, together with fellow Harvard College mates, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, is a well known, written-about and read-about fact.
The same goes for the universal truth that now, in its 10th anniversary, Facebook has phenomenally grown into the largest social networking website on the planet with 1.79 billion monthly active users.
Without going into a detailed break-up of the 1.79 billion users, which is available on the PEW website, let’s discuss the benefits, drawbacks if any, and the future plans of Facebook and how it may impact the world.
Benefits to the average user across the world:
News feed, one of the most important products of Facebook according to Mark Zuckerberg himself, keep users updated with photos, videos, links, likes from people, status updates, app activities and much more.
The stories that are available to you on news feed relates mostly to your connections and activities on Facebook. However, FB offers you the option of changing your settings to your preference.
Primarily, connectivity with family and friends wherever they might be is the main reason why most people use Facebook, at least in my opinion.
It provides a great platform where you can chat, exchange info, share photos be updated about what’s going on in the lives of your near and dear ones, friends, colleagues and whoever you have on your friend’s list.
Last but, by no means, the least you can find school and college friends or a colleague you have not been in touch with for a long time. There are so many users who have found friends they thought they would never ever meet, or have any contact with ever again. Facebook made it possible.
Importance of Facebook to businesses:
To start with, you can provide your business name, contact details, and briefly describe the products or services you are offering. You can provide any additional information, like sharing info about your team, the background of your business or any other features of your business that can capture the interest of other Facebook users.
Facebook offers you one of the best platforms for low-cost marketing of your products or services and convenient interaction with existing and potential customers. It helps you in reputation management of your business by getting feedback on how your business is being assessed online, thereby, giving you the option of improvisation if there are negative feedbacks.
Your customers have the option of posting after-sales queries on your Facebook wall, which, you or your staff can address. Facebook has the potential to steer traffic to your website provided you have added your website link on your Facebook page.
New customer acquisition becomes easier because each time an FB user becomes the fan of an FB page a notice is automatically posted as a news item which, all the user’s friends can see.
Moreover, FB allows you targeted advertising by analyzing profile information of millions of users and reaching out to your target audience; the service, of course, has a cost attached to it. You can improve your brand awareness by encouraging existing and potential customers to like your FB page.
The advantages of Facebook by far exceeds the disadvantages people talk about – so, let’s not talk about them – they have the option and prerogative of not becoming Facebook users. It’s just like switching off the TV or switch over to another channel if you don’t like what is being shown.
What does Facebook have in store for you in the future?
* The development of advanced artificial intelligence is one of Facabook’s biggest ever project. Let’s put it this way; with 1.79 billion active users and growing exponentially there won’t be enough human resource to power such a colossal network. Even if the required manpower is made available it will not be economically feasible.
The introduction of this technology will enable Facebook to enhance its reach and capabilities of its ever growing social network without affecting its profitability.
* The second ambitious project of Facebook is virtual reality. The acquisition of Oculus VR in March 2014 at a cost of 2 billion dollars was exactly for this purpose. Following are the extracts from Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook post on March 26, 2014:
“…This is where Oculus comes in. They build virtual reality technology, like the Oculus Rift headset. When you put it on, you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scene or a place far away.
The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it’s different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives….”
“Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together. I can’t wait to start working with the whole team at Oculus to bring this future to the world, and to unlock new worlds for all of us.”
* The third ambitious venture of Facebook is bringing together the 4 billion people who are not yet connected to the internet or Facebook. To be able to achieve this gargantuan plan it may even require flying drones over villages and remote areas and beam down data via laser technology.
In September 2016 Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced a donation of 3 billion dollars to “cure all diseases” by the end of this century.
The donation, administered through the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) will enable large groups of scientists to work on this grand and noble plan and work on eradicating diseases rather than just finding a cure.
The future of Facebook and its users looks promising and it will not be too long before we see 4 billion active FB users. All the very best Mr. Zuckerberg!