By the numbers, Facebook is well over 500 million members strong.
As a community, its members spend over 700 billion minutes a month and share over 30 billion pieces of content (per month) in the Facebook environment (via status updates, comments, videos, links, etc.).
If you compare Facebook to the populations of the largest countries around the world it would rank 3rd behind China and India.
Like China and India, Facebook is an ‘emerging’ economy that business professionals are trying to understand. It has its own social norms, privacy issues, cultural sensitivities and community rules that govern how business is done and how its members engage and derive value.
Unlike China and India, however, the ‘Facebook Nation’ has no borders (with amost 70% of members outside of the U.S.) and is growing at a rate that will likely eclipse China and India over the next 3-5 years - in terms of population.
The rise of Social Business.
Online social communities like Facebook have reached a level of maturity in that their value is more than just about ‘connecting people’ or helping people manage their relationships. The power and impact of communities like Facebook, Twitter (175 million members) and Yelp (33+ miilion members) have reached impressive milestones over the last 18 months on a number of socioeconomic, business, and political levels.
From a business perspective, just as business leaders are actively looking to emerging economies like China and India for opportunities to grow and expand their business; they must also take time understand the opportunities of doing business and managing their corporate presence in any of the growing number of powerful social communities (like Facebook) - beyond maintaining fan pages and advertising/sponsorship campaigns.
A Shift in Perspective.
Business leaders must shift their perspective on social media to think more in context of social business and how principles of social thinking can help them be successful and more competitive in this new environment.
As I have written before, I see that there are essentially three fundamental principles of social thinking that business leaders must align to, in order to be successful in a social business environment. You must: