In a population of 7 billion people on the planet today, about 2 billion have access to the Internet, and over 60% of those are in one or the other Social Network – with Facebook alone logging 640 million users and other social networks combined have about 700 million. The media that results out of these networks – the Social Media – has become far more impactful and trusted than the conventional media – as evidenced in the events in the middle east, during catastrophe, in exposing fraud etc. It has become the universal communication and media platform for all our activities. For many of us it is competing with email and phones in communicating with our family, friends, businesses and colleagues.
Facebook has continuously expanded its scope and now allows businesses and institutions a direct access from Facebook with the “connect” feature. It allows third party applications provider to offer services to the Facebook community. Facebook as the largest social network has become the largest platform for exchange of information, opinion building and resources.
So what is a “platform“? I believe a platform provides a critical and mutual benefit for all the participants – users, businesses and services. It is like a huge shopping mall or a marketplace where you have a virtuous cycle of more shoppers (users) bringing more shops (businesses) bringing more shoppers – in an upward spiral. Facebook is transforming itself from a dating and personal information exchange network to a universal platform for transactions, opinion building and media generation for all types of businesses and people. Businesses have a huge advantage of interacting with their customers in a direct or indirect dialog. They have access to socially profiled customers where they can target customers based on their social identity and footprint rather than on demographics. Social networks are becoming the universal platforms which form a central virtual marketplace with a rich set of services for almost everything and for everyone.