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Viewpoint: Facebook – Billions Served

by Randall Craig on October 4, 2012

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Social Media, Viewpoint

Tagged as: , ,

Facebook just announced that it now has one billion users – an astounding number. On the other hand, you (or your organization) may have but 1000 or 10,000 – hardly a dent, and at best, a rounding error.

Whether your number is on the lower side or hovering at a billion, this singular measure of “success” is of little value, and at best misleading. Here are two reasons why.

  • How many of those users are actually active? How often does each person actually sign in, let alone “engage”? Facebook uses statistics called Monthly Active Users and Daily Active Users: but what does “Active” really mean?  “Activity level” is a useful statistic only if it is defined, and transparent.
  • What are those who do log in actually doing? They are posting the inane details of their lives, reading the inane details of others’ lives, and playing games like Farmville and Mafia Wars. So-called “F-Commerce” has turned out to be a dud – no one seems to be setting up stores and when they do, no one is buying. Engagement level by activity is a far better statistic. Sales and profitability are also not bad numbers to track.

McDonald’s also once celebrated Billions Served. Eventually they also figured out that people cared more about taste, healthfulness, clean restaurants, and speed. They also determined that an emotional brand connection was more powerful than just numbers.

The most important statistic is whether the effort being spent is driving the results your organization requires.

  • If your goal is greater awareness, then track the increase in number of likes, shares and friends.
  • If your goal is increased number of leads, then track newsletter sign-ups and white paper downloads.
  • If your goal is increased sales, then yes, track sales, and do it by source.

Is a billion users a significant milestone? Absolutely. Does it matter? Not in the least.

The week’s action plan: What numbers do you track in social media? More importantly, what numbers do you track in your business? This week, ask if they make sense; if they don’t, then choose measures that do.

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Randall Craig

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Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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