writes the "Scope of Practice" column for ADVANCE for Medical Laboratory Professionals and provides healthcare consulting for hospitals, corporations and investment bankers; he also recently served as a hospital COO.)
Less than 8 years ago, as a Harvard sophomore, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in his college dorm. Now a multi-billionaire, he oversees not just an empire but an ideas-factory that influences how we communicate. Time magazine selected Zuckerberg as its person of the year in 2010 for his role in connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them; for creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives.
Here are some facts about Facebook
-50% of Americans have a Facebook account
-If Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd most populous country behind China and India
-70% of Facebook users live outside the US
-Facebook users spend an average of 1 hour a day online-either on their Facebook page or using their page as a jump off to other sites. They also spend more time on Facebook than at all other sites like Google, Amazon, Yahoo, etc. combined.
While there are other social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and others, Facebook is the site most often used by a variety of users of all ages.
As a concept, Facebook speaks to how we lead our lives and provides food for thought as well.
No silos or walls. Facebook serves to break down walls and connect individuals in an unprecedented way. This is both a philosophical and literal idea. Even in the Palo Alto headquarters there are no offices and no walls between desks and cubicles. From President to secretary to IT developers, everyone sits at desks and hold meetings in conference rooms with glass sides and no doors.
Ideas have power. Facebook started as an idea held by a 19 year old, bored with school. However he had to take action to move from an idea to a multibillion-dollar business. ‘Face book has become not just a noun but a verb as in ‘"to facebook someone."
Communication and marketing. Facebook is not just a way for friends to connect socially, but for like-minded individuals to share ideas and interests. Increasingly it is becoming a tool for marketing and advertising as well. Customers can provide feedback to businesses almost in real time. Advertisers can track and target users based on their "likes" and areas they visit most often.
Redefines control and privacy. On Facebook I have been found and contacted by "friends" from grade school, college and various periods of my past (some of which I would rather forget!). Some individuals have found me through mutual friends, others through a search and yet others through sites I visit. Talk about the idea of "six degrees of separation."
Life is difficult to compartmentalize, anything shared (casual, serious, political, or racy) goes to a variety of "friends" not only those who know you in a certain context.
Many organizations now have social media policies addressing employees' obligations and rules of conduct. A flip comment about an incident or person at work intended as idle chatter among "friends" can be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
I am curious: what are your views of social media sites like Facebook? Has your organization embraced social media? How do you use such sites?