Facebook Exceeds 1 Billion Users and Launches Promoted Posts

Facebook has had a rough go of things since it went public back in May. Since then, its stock has basically been cut in half. This is not exactly the way investors and employees were hoping things would work out during the lead-up to the IPO, but maybe the pressure of Wall Street is what Facebook needed to really start taking a look at how they can make money proportional to their hundreds of millions of users.

The company has struggled with this pressure. For quite a few months now, Facebook hasn’t been able to figure out a way to impress investors and bring in more income. I am, however, optimistic about their recent implementation of Facebook Gifts. Today’s news about Facebook is two-fold. First up is a milestone in their history.

One Billion Users (Yes, 1,000,000,000 Users)

According to the BBC this morning, Facebook “now has more than one billion people” actively using the social platform. “Holy cow!” you might say, and understandably. I can’t think of anything else on the planet that links one billion people together. Well, maybe drinking Coca-Cola? Regardless, this is an impressive milestone for Facebook to have achieved in such a short time.

Facebook launched in 2004. Only eight short years later, it has reached one billion users. Take a moment to think about that. Okay, the moment is up. The BBC quoted Facebook founder and head honcho Mark Zuckerberg in a status update stating, “Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life.” Well said, Zuckerberg.

More Users to Come

Analysts and investors, according to the BBC, say that “sustained growth is seen as crucial if Facebook is to maintain its value.” Luckily for Facebook, there are plenty more people out there that have yet to adopt Facebook, and they have been working on making mobile access much easier. An infographic in the BBC article shows that only 6.68% of people in Asia and 5.15% of people in Africa are using Facebook. Add that to 29.96% in Europe, 33.92% in South America, and 44.97% in North America, and it becomes apparent that there’s still a significant portion of the population who are not connected. Making sure they make money on these 1 billion users, and the millions more to come, is a different story.

Facebook Tests Promoted Posts in Hopes to Improve Revenue and Please Investors

Facebook has famously insisted that their service is free and will remain free forever, so they’ve had to make money elsewhere on the platform, mostly through advertising and promoted posts/ads. This only scratches the surface of their potential; remember, there are a billion people now using the platform and only the ads and third party games are making the money!

So, last week—as I mentioned above—Facebook introduced Facebook Gifts. Giving users the option to give small gifts to people for a price is a great move in my view. Be sure to read my post about it which is linked above as well.

Now, however, Facebook is testing a new way to monetize aspects of their platform: Promoted Posts. According to an AP story on USA Today, Facebook is “rolling out a feature in the U.S. that lets users pay to promote their posts to friends.” Yep, now everyday users can pay to promote posts, just like corporations and businesses have been able to do for quite some time now.

Is This a Good Thing?

This move makes sense as Facebook grows and taps into its users for income, but I’m a little less enthusiastic about it than I am about Facebook Gifts. Sure, the more friends you get, the more information and updates you might miss from everyone. But Facebook does a pretty good job on its own of filtering the people from whom you want to see things about on your feed. I don’t think I want to see what someone pays me to forcibly see. If it’s important, let me know like any real friend would do, by email or phone, or in person. I potentially see a lot of people abusing this tool to show-off or brag in a sense.

Maybe I’m wrong, though, and this will turn into something great. I think we all simply have to wait and see. At least Facebook is finally making moves to satisfy investors and improve its services in creative ways.

How long will it take for Facebook to reach 2 billion users? Do you think Promoted Posts is a good move?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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