If there ever was a moment in time when social media went mainstream, last weekend could have been it.
Never mind that some Hollywood celebrities have millions of followers on Twitter, or that Facebook recently hit the 500 million users mark; there is nothing quite like having a movie made about you (or your network) to indicate that your time has arrived.
Just a few days ago, The Social Network – a movie featuring the likes of Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg – was released in the United States.
The movie is based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding Of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal, and tells the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the rise of the social media network. Zuckerberg has called the movie ”fiction”.
The movie has proved to be popular; it grossed US$23mil in its first weekend, topping the box office. Reviews have so far been glowing and it is even generating Oscar buzz.
Now could be the time to mark ”the age of Facebook”.
Never mind that Facebook has been the reigning ”king” of social media ever since it ditched its campus-only focus, and allowed the general public to sign-up.
It is what it has done since then that is making the difference.
When faced by challengers — such as Twitter and FourSquare — Facebook implemented changes and added more features such as live streams as well as Facebook Places.
It is not surprising then that Facebook is valued to be worth more than such esteemed companies as Dell, Starbucks and eBay.
While Facebook is essentially a private company (and therefore does not have public value), publications such as Forbes and The Financial Times have estimated its value at $23 billion and $33 billion respectively.
And Facebook has not rested on its laurels, if the rumours, and some actual announcements and implementations are anything to go by.
Just last week, Facebook rolled out its improved photo service allowing the ability to upload (and download) higher-resolution images and bulk tagging, making it on par with other photo sharing sites such as Flickr, Picasa and Photobucket.
Facebook is also attracting commercial clients, and big brands are hopping onto the Facebook bandwagon to sell their products.
Proctor & Gamble, the makers many consumer products, launched an e-commerce app on its Facebook Fan Page for diaper brand Pampers.
Customers can now purchase items from Pampers without leaving Facebook at all. It’s really only a matter of time before P&G does this for its other brands as well.
And if you want to believe the rumours, there might even be a Facebook mobile phone coming soon, although the social media network has denied the rumour.
However, there are reports that it is working with voice-calls software application Skype, to integrate Facebook Connect with Skype accounts.
News site AllthingsD accompanied its report with a screenshot of Facebook being integrated into the Skype platform, which is expected to be seen in the Skype 5.0 beta release due out soon.
There is no news yet on how or if Skype will be integrated into Facebook itself, but considering how Google recently added the phone call feature to Gmail Chat, it’s only natural to assume that Facebook might go down that road.
Of course, these are only the things we know of or have heard about. Who knows what else Facebook has up its sleeve?
Already, the statistics are showing that Facebook is the ”ultimate timesink” on the web. Earlier this year, Nielsen Media Research announced that the average American spent about 14 minutes a day on Facebook, compared to 1.23 minutes on Google and 1.02 minutes on YouTube.
More recently, marketing research company comScore found that in August, Americans spent more time on Facebook than on any other site. The research indicated that 41.1 million minutes were spent on Facebook, a whopping 9.9% of the average American web-user’s web-surfing time.
Last week, the comScore Video Metrix showed that Facebook, in August, overtook Yahoo! as the more popular online video content site. It now sits in second place, just behind Google sites (which includes the popular YouTube).
There is no doubt that Facebook is stronger than ever, even without the need for a No.1 blockbuster. But it sure helps. From the looks of things, it will be a while before another social media network catches up.