What is Facebook?
- Users join networks to connect and socialise online with other people who share common interests or locations. Networks are organised by city, workplace, school and region.
- People can also add friends and send them messages, update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves, add photos and video, set up pages to support their favourite charities.
Wired described Facebook as “a fully functioning social hub, where users can keep track of one another’s favorite music and videos, share and compare movie reviews, and hit one another up for contributions to pet causes.”
“Facebook promises to become an online identity for recruiters, bosses, and colleagues looking to hire and promote; a souped-up business card for job hunters; and a dossier of people’s likes and dislikes that vendors can use to provide targeted products and services. ”
- 5th most popular site
- Second most popular thing among undergraduates in the US, tied with beer
- On 16 March 2009 a New Zealand judge approved the serving of court documents using Facebook on a man being sued over his business dealings
- In December 2008, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory ruled that Facebook is a valid protocol to serve court notices to defendants
How Facebook came about:
Facebook was first developed in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg (described in an article by Wired as a ‘snot-faced upstart’ and a ‘dotcom deity’) and his roomies whilst at Harward Uni.
It was called ‘The Facebook” in reference to the hardcopy book that his prep school gave out to introduce new students. It was a kind of student directory which was called the ‘Photo Address book“, but referred to as the face book.
It initially was only available to Harvard students, but as it gained ground it expanded to other universities, high schools, work places, and now everyone.
- More than 130 million active users
- More than 100 million users log on to Facebook at least once each day
- More than two-thirds of Facebook users are outside of college
- The fastest growing demographic is those 35 years old and older
- About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States
- More than 30 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices
Principally revenue generated through advertising.
Zuckerburg told attendees at a recent Web 2.0 summit that Facebook utilises ‘Social ads’, which broadcast the users’ behavior to their friends. For example, if they watch the preview of a movie, and comment on it, that information will be broadcast to their friends on the service.
I’d liken this to a type of automated viral marketing.
- 35-54 year old demo is growing fastest, with a 276.4% growth rate in the second half of last year
- 55+ demo 194.3% growth rate
- 25-34 year population doubling every 6 months
- more females (55.7%) than males (42.2%) on Facebook
- largest demographic concentration remains the 18-24 year olds (40.8%) down from (53.8%) six months ago
- Women communicate with more people in all cases than men
NZ stats mostly reflect this, as of Friday April 17th 2009:
NZ Facebook users: 774,120
58.7% female, 41.3% male
age 14-17, 6.6%
age 18-24, 34%
age 25-34, 33.9%
age 35-44, 14.6%
age 45-54, 6.4%
age 55-64, 3.0%
age 65+, 1.0%
New Zealand numbers per head of population:
Population Figure: 4,304,509
Facebook Users: 768,100
Pros and Cons:
- User focussed.
- Low cost – helps to reach a younger and wider audience at a much lower cost than traditional media.
- Good ‘awareness’ building tool (draws attention but not necessarily donations).
- Promotes referrals from friends.
- Helps to reach a younger and wider audience.
- Privacy issues for users.
- According to Facebook’s terms and conditions, they have the right to use the material you upload, including photos, as they see fit. See our blog post ‘Giving it away’.
- Donor fatigue, brought about by the share volume of requests for help bombardment with messages.
- Needs a really novel idea that people will gravitate to, i.e: “(Lil) Green Patch,” a facebook app where users build, share and tend a virtual garden. Sponsors donate money to save Rainforests each time the app is used.
- Must update your profiles regularly. Add new material several times a week.
Most of the apps on Facebook are designed for users rather than for charities or not-for-profits themselves. Users can play games or buy virtual gifts that contribute to Facebook charities. However there is one app that can be used by charities and NFPs to build awareness, recruit new members or volunteers, drive traffic to their website and donate.
Facebook has a third party app called ‘Causes‘ which it says any “user with a little passion and initiative can create a cause, recruit their friends into that cause, keep everybody in the cause up-to-speed on issues and media related to the cause, and, most importantly, raise money directly through the cause”.
Donations can currently only be made directly from Facebook to registered partner charities in the US and Canada, however it is possible, when a user sets up a ’cause’ to include a link in the description or media board of your Facebook cause to encourage people to donate directly on the charities website.
Users can set up a cause, join a cause, invite friends to join a cause, do a fundraising pledge or a invite pledge to increase a causes membership, make a birthday wish so your friends will donate to your cause in honour of your birthday. A fairly simple way for you to get existing supporters who are active uses of Facebook to assist your cause.
My search for New Zealand based causes returned 220 results – mostly serious. Some are able to take direct donations through FaceBook but if the donor is not aware, they may not notice that the donations are not actually going to a NZ charity, and of course the amounts are in US dollars, not NZ.
Links to more resources:
- Facebook stats by country
- Facebook numbers per head of population
- Protection your privacy in Facebook
- Human Society of the United States, Spay Day Campaign Facebook page
- Human Society of the United States, Spay Day Campaign webpage
- Cancer Research UK – Using Facebook Groups to Fundraise