Sunday, July 12, 2009

Facebook's billion dollar revenue forecast; it's THE media, social or not

As we see advertising revenues dwindle in traditional media, particularly magazines and newspapers, we'll be soon seeing an opposite shift in the form of a tipping point happening in new media, particularly the social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. In this story from Reuters on July 6th, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Facebook board member, Mark Andreessen, tells Reuters that while Facebook's revenue is at $500+ million this year, it is forecast for several billion in the next five years. "Privately held Facebook...has never disclosed its revenue except to say it expects 70 percent growth this year," the article quotes.

And did you know the high profile Web start-up, Twitter, while not making any money at the moment and instead establishing the user experience first (unlike mySpace), was asked by the U.S. State Department to reschedule planned maintenance during the Iran election crisis, because it "considered Twitter a vital communications channel for protesters?"

We're all beginning to understand more fully that Facebook and Twitter are destined to not just be social media channels used by some, but to become mainstream media channels used by most. The New Media isn't so new these days and media properties like Facebook and Twitter are becoming viable ways in which we receive our news in our beloved sound bytes and at a rate of speed that our minds crave. They are this generation's version of USA Today, bringing news to us where we connect with family, chat with friends and engage with those our businesses serve. Even the word "news" is being redefined because on the social networks, we get to choose and even create our own channels.

Engagement is such a key premise to understand more fully as people use the social networks because it's not about shouting messages from the rooftops, or treating the social media like more traditional media in one-way communication. To be successful in engaging others, one must first engage IN others. The old saying of WIIFM has never been more important than now -- your message must be about your audience, about each one in particular. One-to-one communications lives on, here and now in every moment. Remember those books we all read from Rogers & Peppers?

And the only question is how many moments can you catch with authentic relevancy? There are several definitions of engagement and my favorites for social media application are to interlock, mesh, involve, engross, pledge oneself and to deal with someone especially at length. The social media are long-term engagement tools not advertising tools, and the sooner we change our thinking, the better. Brands, whether your personal or company, will be built on engagement, authentic relevancy and thoughtfulness of others.

If you have questions about how to best to utlize the social media or how to consume or create content, please contact Sally Witzky for consultation.
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