Today’s biggest trends — the mobile web, social media, gamification, real-time — are changing the landscape for business. Consumers are connecting with one another, and in the process they’re becoming increasingly empowered and influential.
How these connected consumers discover, share, and communicate is different than the way they used to. This change requires businesses to rethink their approach. Organizations need to examine the impact of technology on consumer behavior and understand how connected consumers make decisions and influence the decisions of their peers.
The End of Business as Usual makes the case that the need for business transformation is bigger than social media and more important than just connecting or communicating with customers in social networks.
In this excerpt from the book, I discuss how social networks are the platform through which people connect to one another.
Social networks as your personal operating system
The medium is no longer just the message. Now, the medium is the platform and people now represent both the medium and the message. Their digital relationships define the nature of information discovery and its course through the social graph.
For example, Facebook started out as a social network, but it is growing into a personal operating system of sorts, where friends and experiences are interconnected, and apps and brand pages connect people through interests. Every month, the Facebook population invests over 700 billion minutes interacting with their social graphs and creating and sharing content and experiences. Facebook is a hub for people and information.
The acts of sharing and consuming content in social media represent the social dealings between people and set the stage for interaction and education, but it is a platform for development and a solid foundation for social architecture.
- People on Facebook install 20 million applications every day in the popular network.
- 250 million people engage with Facebook on external websites every month.
- More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook, including 80 of comScore’s U.S. top 100 websites and over half of comScore’s global top 100 websites.
Indeed, according to comScore, Facebook traffic soared by 55.2 percent, hitting 151.1 million in October 2010, up from 97.4 million visitors at the same time last year. It’s also important to note that Facebook was home to 300 million active denizens in 2010 and it now has a population of more than 800 million.
- 50 percent of active users log on to Facebook in any given day.
- The average user has 130 friends.
Facebook is becoming an epicenter for all online activity. It’s where individuals pool all that they are and all that interests them into an organized, presentable, and searchable framework. We can learn a lot about someone based on what they share as well as what they don’t share.
Aside from our favorite bands, movies, TV shows, and destinations, we reveal more than we realize. Democracy UK, a UK-focused political campaigning initiative run by Facebook, released some very telling facts and figures in its snapshot report of Facebook in 2010. Let’s take a look at relationships in one year:
- 43,869,800 changed their status to single.
- 3,025,791 changed their status to “It’s complicated.”
- 28,460,516 changed their status to in a relationship.
- 5,974,574 changed their status to engaged.
- 36,774,801 changed their status to married.
We now know that more than 700 billion minutes are clocked every month on Facebook. But, what does 20 minutes look like? In the same report by Democracy UK, we are able to look at the events that unfold every 20 minutes.
- Every 20 minutes, more than one million links are shared.
- 1.3 million photos are tagged.
- 1.5 million invites are sent.
- 1.6 million Wall posts are published.
- 1.9 million status updates are published.
- 2 million friend requests are accepted.
- 2.7 million photos are uploaded, making Facebook the largest photo network online.
- 10.2 million comments are shared.
- 4.6 million messages are sent.
The extent of interaction that takes place in 20 minutes reveals a glimpse of the sheer size of Facebook. On a monthly basis, this translates to:
- The average user creates 90 pieces of content each month.
- More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, and so on) are shared each month.
Don’t Google me, Facebook me
What lies ahead is a cold war between Google and Facebook, where your social graph is at stake. Facebook is taking large steps to move you away from Google and Google is fighting back with Google+. Facebook is vying to become your home page. The company believes that your social graph should be the starting point to your online experience each and every time you fire up your browser.
While Google+ hit 10 million users in 16 days, it took only an additional week to double its size to 20 million, and now stands at 40 million users, according to Google’s latest quarterly report. Google+ isn’t the last social network to hope to compete for the attention of the connected consumer, either. Regardless of network, connected consumers are increasingly leaning on their friends for empowerment, entertainment, and enlightenment. Social networks are now personal hubs that bring information, people, and businesses together.
Twitter me this… the Facebook generation
And what of Twitter? The year 2010 will be forever commemorated as the year Twitter matured from a cool but undecided teenager into a more confident and assertive young adult. While there’s still much room to mature and develop, Twitter’s new direction is crystallizing.
With a new look, Dick Costolo as the new CEO, and an oversold new advertising platform, Twitter is growing into something not yet fully identifiable, but formidable nonetheless. In fact, in 2010, Twitter attracted more than 100 million users, its largest growth rate in the history of the company. In just one year, 44 percent of its total population moved into the micro-utopia in the hopes of finding and sharing something that has been missing elsewhere online and in real life.
At a minimum, Twitter is an extension of each one of us. It feeds our senses and amplifies our voice.
We’re connecting to one another through shared experiences, creating a hybrid social network and information exchange tied by emotion and interest. While Twitter provides the technology foundation, it is we who make Twitter so unique and consequential by simply being human and sharing what we see, feel, and think—in Twitter time. It’s both a gift and a harbinger of enlightenment. As new media philosopher and good friend Stowe Boyd once said, “It’s our dancing that makes the house rock, not the planks and pipes. It is us that make Twitter alive, not the code.”
Twitter is like a moon that orbits a networked planet. It turns the tides. It defines its rotation. Twitter is your window to relevance, but Facebook is your home page for the Social Web.
We are witnessing the dawn of a more social consumer. In the United States, we have a few top traditional TV networks that compete for our attention: CBS, ABC, and NBC. In social networking, we now have three networks to compete for the online attention of not only Americans, but also the world: Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Each in their own way serves as the foundation for our social operating system and in turn, we continue to change how information and experiences travel.
With every post, comment, and photo we share, we trigger a reaction. With our relationships serving as the construct for any social network, we are realizing that the social effect is ours to define.
Brian Solis is a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, a research-based business advisory firm. For the last 14 years, Solis has studied the effects of new media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture.