Exactly ten years ago Mark Zuckerberg launched thefacebook.com from his Harvard dorm. Now it has more active users than were even on the internet on that day: 1.23 billion.
Although there has been the inevitable backlash and reports of teenagers abandoning the network ‘in their droves’, I, for one, cannot imagine life without it.
For one thing, my business wouldn’t exist. I set up Impact Online four years ago this weekend to help companies make the best use of Facebook and Twitter which were, at that time, too often dismissed as children’s toys.
Now you’d struggle to find a consumer-facing business which doesn’t use social media in some form, and I think that’s mostly thanks to Facebook changing the way we communicate.
It’s taken word-of-mouth marketing and made it the number one priority for companies. Customer feedback has never been more important or more visible. The number one question clients ask me is “But what if someone posts a complaint?”
My answer is always, “You answer it”. People aren’t stupid. They don’t see one complaint on your Facebook page and immediately dismiss you. They read your response and base their opinion on that. A genuine apology with an explanation and offer to remedy it is a powerful indication of how a potential customer can expect to be treated.
Facebook has forced companies to be more transparent, to listen to their customers more, to pay more attention to their competitors and to remain competitive. Whether this means more offers, better products, new services or more creative ways of representing themselves, Facebook has changed the way they do business.
So even if Facebook loses some of its power, and the likes of Snapchat and Whatsapp and others creep up, it will still be the one network we can thank for the social media revolution.