With the President delivering his first State of the Union address last week, it is a good time to step back and evaluate the state of the digital park we play in. I’m happy to stand before the blogosphere and report that that our virtual realm, is stronger than ever.
Randall Munroe, illustrator of XKCD, a popular webcomic, created this map of online communities in spring of 2007.
If we were to create a new map today, we would be astounded by how drastically the landscape has changed, in less than three years. The reality is our virtual world is rapidly changing, but here’s a snapshot of the two platforms that have recently changed the game.
Surprised to see MySpace as the biggest country on Munroe’s map? Well, it’s only been recently that Facebook has surpassed MySpace (now considered the red-headed step child of social media) as the most popular social networking site, with more than 350 million active users. Once exclusively available to college students, today Facebook has been adopted by all ages, including baby boomers. Facebook has reported more than 3.5 billion pieces of content are shared each week including web links, news stories, blog posts, notes and photo albums. More than 700,000 local businesses have active pages and there are more than 5.3 billion fans. It’s fair to say if you’re not on Facebook, you’re not on the internet. It is the treasured platform of our society in which we coordinate our real-world social events, where we share our thoughts, engage with businesses and connect with friends of the past. At least that’s how Facebook stands today. I’m curious to see how we’ll interact with Facebook a couple of years from now.
Surprisingly, Twitter does not appear on Munroe’s map. Its rapid growth took everyone by surprise as it officially became a game-changer in 2009 (thank you Ashton Kutcher and CNN.) Twitter was reported to be the fastest growing online brand year-over-year. Who would of thought updating the Twitterverse about your whereabouts in a 140 characters or less would such a frenzy. While Twitter’s growth has recently flat-lined, reports indicate that core Twitter users are currently more active on the platform. Skeptics love to bask in Twitter’s “novelty” but it goes beyond updating the world of your whearabouts in 140 characters or less. Twitter is the ideal forum to exchange information and bridge distant communities. Businesses use it as a customer support tool. It makes governments transparent and it is considered the “medium of the movement”. Twitter is part of the innovations that will revolutionize the way we communicate, just like the Gutenberg press did once upon a yesterday.
Two years from now, will we continue to make #followfriday recommendations? Will more businesses adopt it as a customer service channel? Will we use it to communicate directly with our government? Will we see less of the fail whale?
I can’t wait to retrieve this blog post two years from now and see how far along Facebook and Twitter have gone. What changes do you foresee? Any up-and-comers that will contend with Facebook and Twitter in the future? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.