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750 million members and four billion daily shares = our network is better than yours
Group chat, a new chat design and one-to-one video conferencing via Skype. Well, that’s not very exciting, Facebook. After all, upgraded chat on a social site is just like an upgraded camera on a smartphone: everyone knows it’s coming.
What was interesting from Facebook’s announcement today was CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg’s background narrative that kicked off the show, in which the man behind the biggest social site in the world argued that focus should now be turning from “how many users are on your network” to “how much are the users sharing on your network.”
“Social networking is at an inflection point,” said Zuckerberg. “Until the last couple of years, people had questions about whether it would be a widespread, ubiquitous phenomenon. That chapter is more or less done at this point,” he concluded, suggesting that the world now assumes social will eventually be ubiquitous.
Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook has hit 750 million members, a statistic the young executive brushed off as less significant than another growing trend: exponential growth in sharing.
“We didn’t record [the 750 million milestone] because we don’t think it’s the metric to watch anymore.”
The new metric? Amount of sharing per person.
And on Facebook, there are four billion things shared every day. (For a little perspective, Twitter now sees 200 million tweets daily.) Zuckerberg says that any given user is today sharing twice as much as they were a year ago and, a year from now, he thinks that volume will double again.
In a way, Zuckerberg’s little speech sounded a lot like a jab at Google, which last week launched Google+, the first social networking service from Google to actually get techies excited. Through its innovative and smooth use of social “circles,” Google+ has managed to create a hybrid network combining the best elements of Facebook and Twitter. If that doesn’t sound threatening enough, consider that Google has even beat Facebook to offering group video chat.
But, no matter how good Google+ is, there’s no doubt that building up the network enough to rival Facebook will be an uphill battle. You don't get 750 million people signed up in a day.
“We’re years ahead in wiring up the social infrastructure,” argued Zuckerberg. Though he wasn’t targeting Google specifically, it’s pretty clear who he was talking about.
Did you ever see Google as the company trying to do everything, from search to photos to maps to, now, social? Me too:
“[We’re] different than Internet companies trying to do everything themselves,” Zuckerberg said. “Independent entrepreneurs will always do better than companies trying to do a million things.”
That’s the Facebook chief executive way of saying, our platform is better than yours. With Twitter and Facebook happily coexisting now, the social networking space has started to look a little too peaceful. But with Facebook and Google+, I sense a battle coming. And this time, there’s no clear David, no clear Goliath.
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