Monday, July 09, 2012

Facebook : most successful social networking service and the reigning titan of Web 2.0

1.     What is Web 2.0?

 The Web is growing very rapidly and important part of our lives. Web 2.0 has changed the rules of Internet and has produced a new marketplace based on sharing, coined in 2004 . Web 2.0 encompasses the social in nature such as the social networks, blogs, wikis, tagging and photo and video sharing sites. Sir Tim Berners-Lee found shared information space and similarity this story of the technology with the ideas of Tim O'Reilly, who has attempted to adoption of the technologies, can be used to make predictions about technology markets (Anderson, 2007). The former web appear as very much “Web 1.0,” and then found read write web as Web 2.0 (Alexander, 2006). Web 2.0 has changed the rules of Internet and has produced a new marketplace based on sharing. Many ventures use this technology as facilitating innovation..

Technology has become the most significant enabler of innovation in services. Innovation was deemed to require a new physical thing. But the world of business suggested new services could deliver potentially even more significant changes than new products. They could deliver new business models. (Trott, 2011)

Web 2.0 companies identify four reasons for their innovations. Low cost of Innovation, Rapid bite-sized improvements instead of massive launches, Ease of “measuring” user interactions with the service and An open innovation model (Chittoor, 2009).

2.     Social Networking

 Social networking services or sites (SNS) enables members to connect other people they know after creating their profiles. Use of the Internet has greatly expanded and today it is much more likely that one’s friends and the people one would like to befriend are present in cyberspace. People are accustomed to thinking of the on-line world as a social space. Today, networking sites are suddenly extremely popular(Donath and Boyd, 2004).  Social needs previously done face-to-face, are now moving to a computing device.  And those customers may be using their devices continuously. This intersection of a customer base of billions of people with applications that are needed 24/7 never existed before. The common wisdom is that Silicon Valley has always gone through waves of innovation(See Figure 1) and each time it bounces back by reinventing itself. (Blank, 2012).

Figure 1: Why Facebook is Killing Silicon Valley (Blank, 2012)

Prominent examples of social networking services include Facebook[1], MySpace[2], LinkedIn[3] , Orkut[4], Second Life[5], Friendster[6] and Elgg[7]. Facebook has swept over the Web and are growing in importance not just as places for individuals to communicate and express themselves but also as advertising and marketing channels. Facebook was not the first in Social networking but it slowly became the dominant player and revolutionized Web 2.0.

3.     History of Facebook

SNS has a popularity since their introduction in early 2003 (Brennan, 2006).  At that time Harvard computer science student Mark Zuckerberg wrote the software for the Facemash website. He wanted a better way to connect with fellow students at Harvard and other universities. Fashmash opened on October 28, 2003, and shut down by Harvard a few days later. Zuckerberg faced charges for stealing the student photos he used to populate the site. On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg relaunched with a new website "Thefacebook". Six days later, Zuckerberg again faced trouble when three Harvard seniors accused him of stealing their ideas for an intended social network website called ConnectU (originally HarvardConnection) (Bellis, Online).

In the summer of 2004, Internet young entrepreneur Sean Parker became the company's president and changed the name from TheFacebook to just Facebook (FB) after purchasing the domain name Zuckerberg hiring several fellow friends to help them develop it. Membership to the website was at first restricted to Harvard College students. Then it gradually reached most universities in Canada and the United States. Only 10 months after its launch, the site had 1 million users. It is growing three times as fast as rival MySpace. In June 2004, Zuckerberg left Harvard and moved its base of operations to Silicon Valley[8]. Palo Alto to be precise (Empson, 2012).

Facebook has spread to 21 universities in the United Kingdom in late 2005 and opened  to everyone ages 13 and older with a valid e-mail address. Facebook has over 900 million active users right now (Yadav, 2006). Facebook filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on February 1, 2012. The IPO raised $16 billion, making it the third largest in U.S. history. On June 15, 2012, Facebook and lead underwriters have filed a motion requesting that dozens of shareholder lawsuits over its $16 billion initial public offering be grouped together in Manhattan federal court (Katz & Chan, 2012).

Facebook built audience first among university students and expands within educational institutions. Then it open the doors to public. Their idea is easy to adopt in order to use the service effectively. Main difference between MySpace, only one competitor of social networking, is the customization. Facebook provide something quite clever customization to users and give their true identity. Facebook has a user-friendly interface. It allowed users to send messages to each other. Facebook Chat is an instant messaging service that provides both text and voice communication was released to the entire user base. Facebook Groups are used for discussions which many users can join. Also Facebook users can create Facebook Page under domain for whatever we like. Personal Facebook account has a user limit of 5,000 but this Pages, sometimes called as Fan Page get unlimited fans.

Facebook offer access to them many new smart-phones such as apple, blackberry and android. Facebook allows the posting of messages, photos, videos and notes for their wall. Most popular applications on Facebook are Photos and Videos. Users can upload unlimited photos and videos in their account, unlike Flickr[9], Picasa[10](Google) and Photobucket[11]. Facebook introduced timeline for the first time, a new kind of profile that lets you highlight the photos, posts and life events that help you tell your story (Facebook Blog, 2012).

4.     Adoption process of Facebook

Philip Kotler defines five steps that consumers pass in adopting to a new product.
1.    Awareness - The consumer becomes aware of the innovation but lacks information about it
2.    Interest - The consumer is stimulated to seek information about the innovation.
3.    Evaluation - The consumer considers whether to try the innovation.
4.    Trial - The consumer tries the innovation to improve his or her estimate of its value.
5.    Adoption - The consumer decides to make full and regular use of the innovation (Kotler et al, 2009).

According to Everett Roger’s theory of Adoption, he classifies adopters of innovations into five different segments: innovators, early adopters, early majorities, late majorities and laggards. Innovators adoption process often lavish great time, energy and creativity on developing new ideas and gadgets (Robinson, 2009). Consumers who adopt to a particular innovation with its introduction identified as innovators. With technology more of us are becoming innovators. Those who are carefully search and adopt the product are identified as early adopters. Those who adopt when its benefits and lots of adoption taken place are identified as early majority. Those who adopt late and then use the product are identified as late majority. Laggards are tradition-bound and resist the innovation (Rogers, 2003).

Figure 2: Diffusion of Innovation by Everett Roger,  source: (Effik, 2007)

Each segment approached with a different type of marketing. Customers will adapt to the innovation at different levels in the Product Life Cycle. Facebook is spreading through society increasingly. Facebook has adopted the innovators and early adopters segment.

5.     Ethical & Social Impact of Facebook

Facebook has born under doubtful situation at the Harvard dorm room (Hoffman, 2010). Facebook’s user validation process makes it easy to create fake profiles which contain applications that share data with other users (Light & McGrath, 2010). System should be validate this when setting up a new user account, like Google validate by text message using their mobile phone. This identity theft through fake profiles is the major ethical issue in Facebook, specially in my country, Sri Lanka. Most critical part of Facebook is authenticity. Users protesting the invasion of reputation and privacy. Facebook pretends to be about freedom and share information over the internet. Its  privacy policy tells that you don't have much privacy .
Facebook’s software does not allow users to see who has looked at their profile or particular features of it. In this sense, Facebook presents itself as open to anyone without providing ethical guidance for its use (Light & McGrath, 2010). Facebook offers large amount of games and applications. But the level of trust for the game or application is unknown. In order to install an application, a Facebook user must first agree to allow to access his or her information. What kind of information does Facebook give the application developer access to? Practically everything. According to the Application Terms of Service of Facebook (Soghoian, 2008). Facebook is riddled with viruses and scams. Facebooks main revenue is the advertisements but they allow any kind of advertisement. In this case most of them are scams, pyramid schemes, and even malware.

Some territories of Australian and New Zealand High Courts allowed Facebook as a valid legal protocol to defendants. Facebook is blocked in some countries like China, Pakistan and Iran. Facebook share the risk and the returns by contributing to a joint venture partnership with entrepreneur Sean Parker to fund innovation across new horizons and market differentials. Zuckerberg pick up the winners as they begin to show strong signs of growth.

6.     Conclusion

Social network analysis techniques and measures used have allowed to know the network relationships, structure and topology and the position of different nodes. However, these have to be interpreted from a webometric point of view and have to be adapted to the characteristic of the Web. (Ortega & Aguillo, 2008).

Facebook has competently capitalized on market forces on a scale never seen in the history of commerce (Blank, 2012). According to all the website’s rankings such as comScore[12], Alexa[13], Quantcast[14] and Compete[15], Facebook is the leading social networking site, and is currently 2nd among all websites. Facebook is the second most trafficked site in the world, second to Google.

Facebook has remarkable success by continual development of new services and enabled it to remain the world’s leading social networking site. Facebook is the most successful social networking service and the reigning titan of Web 2.0

[1] most successful social networking service
[2]  social networking service
[3] professional social networking service
[4]  social networking service by google
[5] online virtual world
[6] social networking service
[7] open source social networking software
[8] home to many of the world's largest technology corporations
[9] photo sharing site by Yahoo
[10] photo sharing site by Google
[11] photo sharing site
[13] Web traffic and global ranking



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