On this date, 12 years ago, Mark Zuckerberg registered the domain name, TheFacebook.com, from his Harvard dorm room at Kirkland House, and Facebook was born. I don’t think anyone can imagine a world without Facebook. Facebook has 1.59 billion monthly active users! Just think about that number. That is about 26% of the world’s population using a social network. The average user in the US spends over 40 minutes per day on Facebook. And we all love it at times, and hate it at times.
We share anything and everything. Sometimes we stretch the truth and give an alternate reality. The joy, happiness, successes, failures, heartbreaks, disappointments, and anger are all shared. How many of us see half-eaten plates of food or a cat doing something funny as we scroll through our news feed? How many of us go right to Facebook and bitch about what just happened. We don’t even call or text our best friends anymore– we go right online and share it with the world to see. Many people I talk to now get their world news from Facebook. That’s amazing to think about, getting your news from a social network instead of a major news network. So how did Mark Zuckerberg get to this point? Remember, in a 2004 interview, Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is an online directory. Even he might say he’s not completely sure, but if you look closely, there are several reasons as to why Facebook has become one of the most successful inventions in the history of the planet.
Before we delve into examining why Facebook works, we must get past the controversy of who invented Facebook and some of Facebook’s controversial moves. Many people still focus on the origins and not the inner workings of Facebook. Most of us have seen the movie, The Social Network, and know it was a struggle between Zuckerberg, Divya Narendra, and the Winklevoss twins. We have seen Facebook’s updated privacy settings, and our information is somehow compromised. But we still continue to use Facebook. We will never know the absolute true story or why Facebook does some things, but get past those points, and you will see one of the greatest inventions in history and why it will not be going away anytime soon. I believe Facebook is lasting because it plays to our core human needs. You may have heard about the six human needs by guru, Tony Robbins. They are Certainty, Variety, Significance, Love/Connection, Contribution, Growth.
Facebook has figured out so well how to play to our core human needs, and this is why Facebook will continue to dominate.
You call all the shots. This is really the principle of individualism at its best. You are in total control of your Facebook destiny. You share what you want to share. You can accept a friend, decline their request, post about anything, delete friends, and of course now, unfollow them. You can create private communities now. When you see a friend experiencing a challenge, you know you are not alone as you have experienced something similar. As many people have complained about the constant updates, especially to the newsfeed, Facebook is doing what you ask. It is customizing the experience to you. It is giving you the certainty and clarity that you want.
We need variety in our lives. On any given day, you can do so many things on Facebook. You can share an update, comment on friend’s posts, or play a game. You can even research information on Facebook. We do enjoy new things that occur in our lives and other’s lives. On any given time we open up Facebook, there are so many new things that have occurred in the last hour that we are immediately captivated. We typically comment on something we like, and then we get variety from seeing what other people are saying. We truly enjoy what other people are saying or doing.
As humans, we love connecting with other people. Be it positive or negative, this is why we are humans. We need that emotional connection. We love to give people praise and adulation, and then tear them down, often beating the crap out of someone with our words. When someone is hurt or injured, the outpouring of love is amazing. And when someone does something wrong, the hatred for that person is deafening. But in both instances, we are experiencing a connection to that person or event. When the Paris terrorist attacks occurred, it was amazing to see that everyone changed their profile picture to the France flag to support the victims. And think about this, how many of you have searched for your first love or some friends from high school. We all have! We enjoy catching up and seeing what everyone is up to. You are also connecting to your past to shape your future.
Part of our core is that we want to contribute to society. We have this need to contribute our gifts to the world. Deep down we do want to help make things better. We also contribute in negative ways too. It is a beautiful thing to see when someone is truly struggling or has a medical issue, people have started campaigns to help that person or family, and they are run completely through Facebook. The posts are shared around the world. We post inspirational quotes. We post inspirational videos that we hope can help people.
Facebook offers us a level playing field. It’s an amazing platform that gives everyone an equal voice. The little guy has a chance. David truly can beat Goliath on any day now! We can go out and post something and it can go viral in a matter of minutes. So many small businesses have turned to Facebook to use its power, and these small businesses have grown tremendously. Even as individuals, we have experienced growth in using Facebook. We get answers to questions. We can post about a problem we are having, and we get answers in a matter of seconds. Growing up, I would check the encyclopedia. Then, it was Google it to find the information. Now, we post our question on Facebook and get the answer. We are more aware of the problems in this world, and we have experienced an amazing amount of culture. I get excited when I see all the Diwali celebrations!
This is one of biggest reasons Facebook is where it is at. As humans, part of our DNA is craving significance. We are starving for attention. More importantly than anything, we want to be seen, heard, and loved. We want to feel important. We also have the ability to compare ourselves to our friends and see how we size up. And the significance we can get from Facebook is unlike anything in this world. We crave when people give us attention. Look at me, Look at me, as many of our posts, check ins, and pictures scream. Admit it, you look at your phone and see the notification that someone has liked or commented on it. You immediately check the post. You don’t even put your phone down. You refresh the screen and check it again! I know, I do it too.
Like it or not, Facebook is here to stay for the long haul. So many businesses are failing right now, and they can easily take Facebook’s playbook and immediately improve their businesses. I’m shocked that so many businesses have not done so already. As individuals, we will continue our journey through life and utilize this great platform. Yes, we are getting our needs met, but I often wonder at what price. Some of the things we see are not totally true, and reality is stretched. I’m not saying we need to completely disconnect from Facebook and get out from behind our devices, but from time to time, we need to step outside and truly see the world with our own naked eyes.