According to Gregory Lyons, a senior analyst at digital marketing agency, iCrossing, August will be a milestone month for Facebook. According to his linear regression model, Facebook will reach its 1 Billion user mark. That’s more users than Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn combined. It seems that the entire world is involved in the social media sphere. According to the CVP Marketing Group, who specialize in Social Media marketing, more than 70% of Facebook users come from outside the United States. According to the same study even third or second world countries are joining the networks with Indonesia and the Philippines being 7th and 10th in user volume respectively, and Thailand, South Africa, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Iraq all in the top ten for fastest growing in number of Facebook users. It appears that social networking is more than capable of connecting the third and first world on a single platform, no matter their geographic separation. If this is true, then why does the social media world often receive such scathing reviews?
The media, a large portion of the internet generation, and a large amount of individuals born outside of that generation make social media seem rather petty and even completely worthless. According to CBS’s Larry Dignan, Facebook has received a 64 out of 100 on the Customer Satisfaction Index, a ranking that places the social networking giant with some loathed company, like the IRS’s e-filing system and the airline industry. For the most part, the social media culture does nothing to redeem itself. The 2011 film, The Social Network, portrayed Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, as a bona fide genius, void of the slightest social capabilities, who wastes his time stealing intellectual property. The “twitter- sphere” is the butt of many jokes revolving around the near- obsessive frequency at which civilians and celebrities alike post their every thought, no matter its insignificance. From its very onset social media has been plagued with malicious predators seeking to manipulate and victimize unknowing users (although privacy has come a long way since the days of the infamous and illicit Myspace chat rooms). It seems that the serious minded people of the world should not concern themselves with these modes of communication. Why should they? It seems as if of the one billion users mentioned above, not many of them are using Facebook to virtually tie the world together. Facebook is capable of fostering such a movement. If one can survive the seemingly endless wave of the meaningless, that person would find a deeper, worthwhile purpose social media plays in the globe today.
Every once in a while social media will redeem itself as it did in 2011 with its role in the Arab Spring. The new mobilizing capabilities of sites like Twitter and Facebook were on full display. According to the NY Times more than 90,000 Egyptians signed up to attend the January 25th protest via the “Facebook Event” Application. Instantaneous updates from eye witnesses were sent out on Twitter long before news anchors could disseminate the same information, debate and collaboration filled both spheres, and most importantly, the entire world’s population could join the movement virtually on these uncensored, highly inclusive platforms. A hyperbolic example presented itself in 2011, when a UCLA senior, Chris Jeon, born and raised in America, and bored with his summer, travelled to Libya to join the rebel forces after encountering some rebel contacts through social media platforms. Although this move was rash, it does illustrate the role of social media in creating global connections where they once were not possible. The highly dramatized follies of social media lie not within social media’s own nature but within the culture of the majority of people who use it. In an effort to provide a single platform for global connection, SAP’s Power of Small project utilizes the redeeming qualities of social media.
Besides social media, there are little to no points of entry for a foreign entrepreneur looking to connect him or herself with useful business contacts in other countries. In years prior, an SAP marketing employee located in South Carolina had nearly no means of networking with an entrepreneur from the Philippines without going entirely out of his way to create the connection. Without social media, SAP employees around the globe wouldn’t be able to receive and react to the same information about one of these entrepreneurs the moment that information becomes available. Global discussions only took place through perhaps email conversations that were largely disjointed and highly exclusive. Now these discussions take place through a live feed on a singular web bulletin for virtually anyone to view and take part in. Information, updates, discussion topics, and event details are made available to the entire world the moment they are developed. Most importantly, all it takes is a simple name search to locate and connect with an entrepreneur any distance away who was previously completely anonymous to you. Social media provides a profound new level of global collaboration, and SAP’s Power of Small Project is taking full advantage of this previously unheard of connecting power.
In conclusion, you may be annoyed with your Facebook or Twitter. You may be fed up with the bombardment of pictures from your friend’s “Summer in Italy” album, and you may never want to have to hear about your friend falsely believing he or she saw Johnny Depp at a gas station in Iowa. But, please, do not blame Mark Zuckerberg for your woes. He’s created a platform that connects the entire globe with no intention of making you use it in a less than beneficial manner. The creators of these networks had a plan to connect millions if not billions of people, and SAP is taking full advantage of this unique power to create truly meaningful business connection where they were once impossible.
- Search Ashoka Change Makers on Facebook
- Search #powerofsmall on Twitter
- Take part in discussion and begin making your own connections
No contribution to the effort is too small. That’s the collaborative power of these networks: your ten minutes of discussion may seem small, but combined with the time of other users, and that small discussion may snowball into a novel innovation. A little discussion and idea exchanging could involve you in the creation of a successful business 1000 miles away, and that is something truly profound.