The incredible recent growth of Facebook and what it means for small business

Hold on to your figurative hats: more than 50 percent of all Americans check Facebook every day.

Here’s how I got that number. According to the most recent Pew Research Center Social Media Update, 68 percent of all Americans use Facebook, and of those, 76 percent are on the popular social media platform at least once every day.

Diffusion vs concentration

Why is this important? It’s important because “diffusion” is the general trend in media today. With alternate sources of news, television and print media are losing eyeballs. With online streaming, broadcast and cable TV channels are hemorrhaging viewers.

That makes this concentration of viewership on Facebook very noteworthy. There’s one more aspect to the growth of Facebook that flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Virtually always, as an entity becomes bigger, growth becomes more difficult. When you’re a small player, notching an impressive percentage growth number is easy. In 2016, the opposite was true among the social media platforms.

When Goliath beats David

Check out the growth for these sites between 2015 and 2016:

  • Facebook grew from 72 percent to 79 percent of adult Internet users.
  • Instagram grew from 28 percent to 32 percent of adult Internet users.
  • Instagram grew from 25 percent to 29 percent of adult Internet users.
  • Twitter grew from 23 percent to 24 percent of adult Internet users.
  • Pinterest was flat with 31 percent of adult Internet users in both 2015 and 2016.

Facebook added an additional 7 percent of the adult Internet using population to its user base, while the best any of the (much) smaller social media platforms could do was increase by 4 percent.

The Pew update says that much of Facebook’s growth has come from older Americans jumping on board. Hey, if you want to see what the grandkids are up to, you have to be active on social media!

The one-stop social media platform

I’d like to make a comparison. I’m now seeing Facebook as the Amazon of social media, and by that, I mean that it is trying like crazy to diversify. Facebook wants to be all social media things to all people. It is making an incredibly strong play with its video service (watch out Periscope) and I just heard that it is going to somehow incorporate job listings. If you’re looking for work, you’ll be able to find opportunities as you browse your news feed (watch out LinkedIn).

I’m just waiting for Mark Zuckerberg to start his own space program. We’ll see…

Facebook ad revenue grows

Let me couple one more fact with what I’ve outlined so far: During the most recent reporting period, Facebook revenue was up significantly, which means that advertising is catching on.

Add all of this up and it points to the fact that you need to be seriously exploring how you can best leverage Facebook in your sales and marketing strategy. Don’t expect to hit it out of the park when you take your first swing. Take it slowly – and that’s easy to do with Facebook ads. Emily Coop and Mike Aynsley recently updated Hootsuite’s article on Facebook advertising for beginners. It will get you started.

Finally, if you struggle with Facebook advertising, head over to one of the freelance sites and find a highly rated freelancer who specializes in Facebook and other social media advertising. Facebook marketing was one of the top 20 growth areas on Upwork last year. Work out a deal in which your freelancer will place ads for you and show you the ropes…if you’re interested in doing it yourself in the future.