How cool is social media, am I right? The millennial generation was the generation that adopted social media. We took these sites and made them our own. Since the mid 2000’s we’ve been adding content weekly and sharing our thoughts daily on social media. Facebook launched on February 4th, 2004. My personal Facebook was born on June 18th, 2009. That’s over seven years of memories. I’ve contemplated deleting my Facebook a couple of times. I first thought about it after noticing the awkward transformation of my timeline. It felt like photos of friends and family turned into Buzzfeed articles and wanna be viral videos, overnight.
But I didn’t do it. After looking through my profile I was nostalgically overwhelmed. I didn’t want to lose all of the memories that summarized the last seven years of my life. I knew that I could reinstate my profile with just a few clicks, but I was fearful of missing out on picture tags and photo albums. I like that Facebook serves as a running history book. It lets my friends glance into my life, but more importantly, it helps me remember some of the times that I otherwise would have forgotten.
If we continue to add content at the current rate, our Facebook pages could have a lifetime of memories in a few decades. I think that this is where the value of Facebook is rooted. Our Facebook pages are personal digital photo albums. The content that surfaces on our timeline can be entertaining, but it doesn’t maintain switching costs for users.
According to an SEC document that surfaced around the time of Facebook’s IPO, “On average more than 250 million photos per day were uploaded to Facebook in the three months ended December 31, 2011″ (That’s around 7.5 Billion per month). These numbers are undisputedly higher today, as Facebook’s monthly active users have risen from 850 million to 1.71 billion since 2011. In 2013 Facebook revealed that users have uploaded over 250 billion photos.
Here is a quick snapshot of Facebook in 2011.
All of this data has given Facebook seemingly unquantifiable switching costs. According to the Wall Street Journal, in the first quarter of 2016 the company made over $5 billion in advertising revenue. They are expected to grab about 12% of the global digital-advertising revenue this year, a market that totals around $186.8 Billion. To give you some contrast, Google is expected to get around 31% of this same market.
So my question is this: Is Facebook’s long-term goal to keep us connected with friends, circulate entertaining content, or to serve as our personal history books?
The site is by far the largest social media network in the world, with over 1.7 Billion daily active users. This number drives their ad business. Without active daily users the value of their advertisement spaces decreases dramatically.
However, I think the company has a unique opportunity to capitalize on the substantial collection of photos and videos that it hosts. In a couple more years the majority of American millennials will have been on Facebook for around a decade. Never before has a generation of people had such a centralized and expansive collection of memories. The last ten years of each of our lives will be captured and stored on Facebook. Although we own these photos, Facebook reserves the right to use the content that we post. Unless we specify otherwise.
I wonder what Facebook can do with all of these memories.