Since the news is being dominated by Facebook’s IPO, let’s jump right in on the topic. But first, a joke:
And now, the Digital Influence Weekly…
It was early October 2004 and I was a junior at The University of Arizona when an old friend whom I had grown up with stopped me on my way to class and said, “Brian, have you heard of TheFacebook.com? Everyone from [our hometown schools] is on there!” Having already spent a few years on Friendster, MySpace and even LiveJournal, I was very curious to learn about TheFacebook (“the” was part of the URL originally).
My classmates and college friends from all over the country were immediately seeing value as it reconnected us to old friends we didn’t get phone numbers from before leaving high school and current classmates. It helped us collaborate on class projects, find common interests and share our lives with our peers. We were having a good time online and it was just for college students and immediate alumni.
Fast-forward eight years to May 18, 2012. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerbergrings the NASDAQ opening bell the day of their IPO. At $38 a share, the value would be $104 billion. Personally never having a bank account worth that much, I don’t know what $104 billion looks like. The value of Facebook (and other social networks) is something much different for me.
You, me and around 901 million users worldwide have used Facebook to:
• Share videos of grandchildren playing in the backyard
• Offer condolences and mourn together in times of loss
• Find jobs or job-seeking assistance after graduation or being let go due to the recession
• Keep nonprofits afloat by securing extra volunteers and individual donations during hard times
• Turn upset customers into satisfied advocates for your services
• Play a crucial role in elections on all levels
• Alert city departments and assistance crews that your power is out and you need help during a tropical storm
• Reach out to the world that you’re ready for changes in the government and willing to fight for it
This all probably sounds overly dramatic, but nevertheless, it’s also true.
Regardless of whether you pay for services on Facebook, purchase stock or simply continue to utilize their free features, don’t forget where the real value is found. Engagement online can and should lead to activity offline.