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Facebook Hits Half a Billion, and How Marketing Has Changed

July 21, 2010

We all knew this day would come. But…already?? Facebook has announced it has 500 million users. That’s right, half a billion of us! That number is really mind-boggling. And Facebook accomplished this just five months after it hit 400 million, which was three months after hitting 350 million. Um, exponential growth, anyone??

To those who want to call FB a “passing trend” — I have to ask — when do you decide the trend has peaked? Because I’m starting to think Facebook could surpass Google one of these days…which would finally put to rest those claims that it’s “just a fad,” I hope.

The reality is, the world has changed. And so, marketing has changed. Facebook (and other social media websites too, but I give most of the credit to FB) has changed society’s approach to publicity, advertising, and PR.


Before the dawn of social media (and Facebook):

  • Self-promotion used to be seen as unnecessary or even “braggy.” People believed they needed to avoid “tooting their own horns,” that “quality work speaks for itself,” and that others would pick up on achievements on their own, giving recognition when it was earned.
  • Organizational marketing was direct. It was a planned, one-way transmission with the business or entity talking to its audience, in hopes of convincing them to “buy.”

Versus Now…

Thanks to Facebook and other social media sites:

  • Self-promotion is now seen as essential to making yourself “findable.” Employers now Google names of potential job candidates, and potential clients (and even potential dates!) now search for dirt about you online. It’s become much more important to own your accomplishments, to have good quality stuff come up when people search for you, and to “frame” how you (and whatever you care about) are seen by the world.
  • Organizational marketing is now engagement. It has become a two-way conversation, a dialogue with a business or nonprofit (or whatever) and its audience. Now it’s about building “brand awareness” and general goodwill, about developing advocates and a “fan” base…all of which still maybe lead to sales, but less directly than before.

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