Over the next few days, I will be posting sections from my internship paper, Facebook: A Place for Friends and Businesses. This paper was written by me over the course of this past semester for my class, MKT 495, an independent research/internship class at Rider that I was able to take after completing my internship during the summer. Requirements to get credit were fairly simple: find an internship, complete 100 hours of work at the internship, have the employer submit a performance evaluation, and write an essay about a relevant topic that somehow relates to the internship experience. I’m happy to say I did well on all of those things and will be receiving an A and three credits for this class.
When all of the sections of this paper have been posted, the entire paper will be made available on a page on this site and I will post a link to the page.
Don’t want to read it in parts? The whole paper can now be viewed and read on this page: Facebook: A Place for Friends and Businesses.
Facebook: A Place for Friends and Businesses
- What are Social Networks?
- Feedback Questions
Overview: This essay explores how Facebook has expanded to be used by not just individuals looking to interact with friends, but businesses who are looking to market and advertise their brand and products online.
When Facebook was founded on February 4, 2004 at Harvard University by Mark Zuckerberg and co-founders Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin, it was intended to be used as a tool to connect students at Harvard University. As the site expanded to include not just colleges and universities, but many other networks of people, more and more were able to sign up to use the site and Facebook turned into a virtual gathering place “for friends” (“Company Timeline”). Businesses later recognized that Facebook was an important place to be seen and a good resource for finding markets of people to sell their products and services to. A ComScore, Inc. study revealed that consumers were swayed by online reviews of products when purchasing holiday gifts in 2009, and Facebook and Twitter influenced approximately 28 percent of the surveyed consumers U.S. holiday gift buying (Inyoung). This paper will discuss what social networks are, the benefits to using Facebook for marketing and advertising, and examples of businesses that are successfully using Facebook to supplement their marketing and advertising efforts. Facebook will be the main focus since, to date, it is the largest and most successful social networking site on the internet.
What are social networks?
To provide some background, online social networks can be loosely defined as virtual gathering places where people can connect and communicate with one another. Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn and other social networks we know of today are improvements on types of internet communities that were seen as early the mid-1990s. Forums and chat rooms were some of the first internet gathering places where users could establish online identities and communicate with others from around the world. Websites like Classmates.com, SixDegrees.com, and Friendster came on the internet around 1995 and introduced the idea of user profile pages and connections with other users (later known on Facebook as adding other users as “friends”, or “friending” people.) (Shih 17) The social network sites we are familiar with today combine several of these older ideas (forums, chat, user profile pages, online journals/blogs, etc.) with new Web 2.01 technology to create community-based, highly interactive websites which thrive on user-generated content.
Facebook was able to set its self apart from other social networks by having a “trusted identity combined with clearly defined networks, exclusiveness, and providing continual engagement” with its users. (Shih 34) By June 2004, Facebook expanded to several Ivy League campuses in the Northeastern United States and moved its headquarters to Palo Alto, California. Facebook reached the one million user mark at the end of 2004, having by that time added groups and “The Wall”, a virtual bulletin board where messages and other media can be posted to a user’s profile. Two notable features, “Facebook Ads” added in November 2007 and the “Like” feature added in February 2009, have become tools for businesses to use to encourage feedback from their customers and to market their products and services online (“Company Timeline”). There are now over 500 million users on the website, half of which log on to the website at least once a day and spend at least a half hour on the site at a time (“Statistics”).
- Do you use social networks? Why or why not? If so, how many different profiles do you have?
- Have you ever interacted with a business on Facebook via their Facebook “Fan” page?
- Do you have a smart phone? Is the internet enabled on your phone? If you have the mobile web on your phone, how often do you use it? (Constantly, a few times a day, at least once a day, a few times a week… etc.)