The case for Facebook not disappearing [anytime soon]

by Sasha

Lately there have been numerous people making headlines and at times almost enthusiastically predicting Facebook’s demise.

We’ve already entered the era of mobile internet, but unlike the dotcom days and more recent social web, we’re more experienced and attune to the changing digital landscape, not least Facebook themselves.

So what’s Facebook about really? it’s about user data, and not just any old user data, but big data

Facebook is expected to reach 1 billion users before the end of the year, sooner according to Gregory Lyons Research & Insight Manager at iCrossing.

That’s 1 billion sets of user’s personal information, thoughts, interests, photos, digital interactions, and connections. In March of 2011 that equated to 30 petabytes of user data according to Paul Yang who worked at Facebook and who gave an overview of their then migration on the Facebook Engineering page.

At their current growth rate we can calculate Facebook will reach 35-40 petabytes of user data by the time they hit their magic 1 billion users, or approximately 42 million gigabytes—that’s 42 million gigabytes.

To try and put that in perspective, an average 2 hour HD movie on iTunes is 4GB in size so if you wanted to watch 40 petabytes worth it’d take approximately 2,400 years of non-stop viewing—the Greek philosopher Plato would just be finishing watching about now.

Open up Facebook and go through the process of creating an advertisement and you quickly see the targeting power Facebook offers online marketers.

Conversion rate arguments aside this is both phenomenal and terrifying at the same time, and this is only just scratching the surface, the retail face if you will, what could you do if you could analyse all this data at once?

If you live in Australia and have a National Australia Bank account, here’s something you may recently have missed:

Quantium has a joint venture with National Australia Bank called Market Blueprint, which uses de-identified NAB customer transaction data to show how shoppers buy, according to profile, demographic, retail category, online, offline and so on. The analysis is sold to third parties—

With that much data Facebook can literally make predictions about future events, it’s called Predictive Analytics and its about analysing Big Data to assess how likely a customer will behave in order to improve marketing effectiveness—it’s what big business are doing right now, that seemingly humble Rewards Card of yours knows a lot more about you than you think.

And this is what it’s all about, it’s not just about knowing who you are, but knowing how you’re going to behave before you know yourself.

Sure Facebook needs to pivot to capitalise on their market position, but what company is in a better position and resourced to do so? and what better and more recent example of a successful pivot than Burbn, the HTML5 based check-in application that went on to become Instagram and be sold to Facebook for $1 billion.

I’m looking forward to watching Facebook pivot, if they can execute and deliver, they’re not going to be disappearing [anytime soon].

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