Social Media – Fact Or Facebo**o*ks?

Today, blog snorkellers mine, I is mostly having difficulty getting my head round this. I’m not saying it’s not true, mind, simply that I am having difficulty getting my head round it. It’s called ‘Visualising Six Years of Facebook’ (it’s actually called ‘Visualizing 6 Years of Facebook’, but this title, as it stands, is ugly, depressing and incorrect) and it shows – pictorially – salient statistics illustrating the rise and rise of this social media phenomenon. And, as I’ve said, I’m having difficulty getting me ‘ead around it.

Listen, right. The global population, according to the United States Census Bureau, is estimated to be in the region of 6.8bn. (Obviously, the USCB counts some US citizens twice, because they’re so gosh-darned saturatedly fat, but even so, it’s a pretty accurate and informed stab at the number.) According to the ‘Book, it now has 400 million users. That’s (for the sake of argument) 4% of the world’s population. Which means that four in every hundred people have – at some point – logged on and registered themselves wiv da Face’. Then, further to that, it appears that 200 million of these users log in every day.

Every day. 2% of the global population log in every day. Two people in every hundred, everywhere, log in to their Facebook account. Is it just me – or does this seem just a little far-fetched, especially given that global internet penetration stands at 25.6%? I mean – here are the actual figures – population 6.8bn, internet users 1.7 bn. This implies that 25% of internet users are on Facebook and 12.5% of them log in to the ‘Book every day. Sorry, as I say, I’m having difficulty wiv me ‘ead.

Further than that, even, this piece of work says that the ‘average Facebook user’ (they don’t define what they mean by ‘average’) spends 55 minutes every day (every day!) on the site. It’s one of those stats that seems faintly plausible – just so long as you don’t look at it too hard, or think about it too much.

No – I’m sorry. I don’t buy it. I don’t know where the data is coming from. My suspicion is that someone is feeding it into the marketplace and there are enough gullible souls and snakeoil salesmen preying on the gullibility that it gets picked up and touted around and then becomes fact. I feel a conspiracy theory coming on – after all, usage data should be very simple to get from a site like Facebook – but it just seems too high.

Anyway, I am probably completely wrong and the world is, indeed, being smothered by da Face’. Sooner or later, it’ll achieve sentience and then we’ll be properly f*cked.

In the meantime, despite this data being used to big the ‘Book up and point out how great it is, and how it’s changing the face of our society as we know it (eating it from the inside, more like), it still remains true to say that no-one has found a way of harnessing it for a commercial end. Social media as a business marketing or communications tool still doesn’t work. The feral communities that these sites create simply will not be leveraged, herded, corralled or targeted.

Say this data’s true. Say that 200 million people do log in each day. That’s an enormous amount. Should be like shooting fish in a barrel. But I’d say that if big business can’t get a result with these sorts of numbers – well – doesn’t matter how big it is, it’s still a white elephant.

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