Two years ago, the Facebook status was nothing more than a novelty on a growing social network called Facebook. Now, the importance of having a funny Facebook status is such that large companies are employing people with marketing savvy and expertise to write their promotional messages and paste them into their Facebook status updates. How did this come about?
The Facebook status – some history
Facebook used to serve the purpose of a social network between University students. Famously, Harvard University was the first to have access to the network, and it soon grew to encompass all of the major campuses in the USA and globally. One of the novelties of each person’s Facebook profile page was their ‘status message’. Its format was simple:
Danny is XXXXX
Where ‘XXXXX’ means exactly what that user decided to say about themselves. All of the Facebook statuses were therefore in the third person, and they produced a quite boring range of response. ‘Danny is eating pizza’. ‘Danny is watching a movie’. This formatting gave users a dilemma. It was not flexible enough for them to enter the types of information which they wanted to share with their colleagues and friends, and so usage of this function was relatively low.
At the same time as Facebook received a global rise to prominence, another social network was becoming more and more popular. Twitter billed itself as a ‘micro-blogging’ platform, and was in effect a company built around a similar form of status updates. The difference, however, was flexibility. Twitter users were not forced to use the third-person to describe their thoughts or feelings, in fact they just had an empty box in which they could write whatever they desired.
The concept was simple, but the service exploded in popularity. Twitter suddenly had the world talking, and the Facebook status appeared to be dying away.
By this time, Facebook had become the world’s largest social network. They could not help but notice Twitter’s rise in terms of global branding, and they needed to adapt. This happened with a clear move by the developers to strike at the core market of Twitter. Facebook redesigned their ‘home feed’ page – the page that users see when they log in – and included a huge amount of prominence to status updates. Also, they had removed the need for users to use their own name in their updates, and thus removed the ‘third person’ restriction.
The results were staggering. Facebook’s page views experienced an increase such that Twitter had experienced just months before. Users were becoming interested in what people were doing ‘real time’ – users noticed that Facebook had also put more of an emphasis on posting its users’ statuses as fast as possible into their friends’ home feeds, meaning a comment which they made could be discussed almost instantly, a la Twitter.
The other prong to the Facebook attack was to add a ‘like’ button to all items on the Home Feed. This added the ‘user vote’ system, which meant that statuses which had more ‘likes’ were displayed on more users’ pages. This again meant that the importance of having a funny or amusing Facebook status was paramount – if you could get users to click on that button you were confirming yourself as a trusted and influential user of the system, and for marketers, this is extremely important.
If you log in to Facebook today, you will notice that a far greater number of people are using status updates. There are newer functions coming out which will further enhance this system, such as ‘fri
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