You don’t need to be a marketing guru to know that communication has come a very long way in a very short time. However, the latest figures released by Facebook are pretty astounding:
- Facebook now has 2 billion monthly users
- Instagram (owned by FB) has 700 million
- Whatsapp (also owned by FB) has 1.2 billion
- Messenger (also FB owned) has 1.2 billion
- YouTube (owned by Alphabet) has 1.5 billion.
For FB, that’s a 17% increase YOY, its fastest growth since 2012. Quite amazing for a company that started in 2004 and a pretty much unprecedented growth curve for a company that is in its 13th year (not unlucky for some it seems). And what’s more – Facebook’s users’ engagement has increased to 66% daily usage compared to 55% when it hit 1 billion.
To cut a very long statistical story short, Facebook is now one hell of a communication platform. With its combined assets well established brands worldwide, its reach is larger than the populations of China and India, the two most populated countries in the world and the combined populations of England, Germany and the United States.
The discussion about the part Facebook played in the US Elections and the fake news furore that continues to raise debates about the power of social media yet show the strength of the platforms available to use for us communicators. As much as the old news messengers shout about the follies of the new messengers we also have seen these powerful platforms being used for social change and giving people a collective voice with campaigns such as #MeToo, highlighting sexual abuse against women.
Galvanising troops and word of mouth has always been the most effective way of communicating and one that is as old as the hills – Jesus and his 12 disciplines anyone? Adding an influencer to this messaging – be it a celebrity, a head of state, the most popular person in the school playground – brings credence and more weight to that message.
We are creatures who like to observe and follow. René Girard calls this “mimetic desire” or the human need to look around us at what other people are doing, and wanted, and copying them. Outside of the fundamental necessities of life including shelter and food, our next basic instinct is to watch our peers and imitate them. Thousands of years ago this meant following the crowd, sheep like, to battle, to celebrations, to gatherings and social occasions. With social media platforms available to us today we need no longer physically follow but with a click and a swipe can be gathering virtually with a rallying online cry.
So, what does that mean for those wanting to influence? Those with messages to communicate and those with something to share. How do we jump on board and get people talking about our brands, our products and our services? How do we make some of that 2 billion Facebook family be brand ambassadors for us?
We can’t and we shouldn’t. As we have found forcing people to think things they don’t – be it through fake news or other methods – normally means being seen as just that, fake. What we need to do is the obvious - talk to our audiences through these communication channels, acknowledge the good things and thank them for their custom and acknowledge the bad, listen, resolve, if not convert.
Communication certainly has come a long way in a short time. Who would have thought 50 years ago that you could build a platform that could shout to people as far away from Andorra to Australia to more people than you could ever imagine. How lucky we are to have these tools in our communication arsenal. Now we just need to know how to use them properly.