Facebook – an overview

Facebook- A Breakthrough in Digital Media:

Communication and Networking drive the world and make it a better place to live in. Gmail was a solid platform for official communications between colleagues and clients. Friendster , Myspace were the platforms for communicating with peer networks and the outer world.  These sites were used by many people across the world. But people felt a need for a global social network with unique features and ease of accessibility. 

Facebook was launched in the year 2004 and it created a buzz amidst the people. Initially it was introduced as a platform for students to connect with their friends and share images. Then slowly the platform was made available for everyone across the globe. By the year 2008 it surpassed the number of users of Myspace. The user experience , UI and UX design were the prominent reasons for the success The launch of Facebook was undoubtedly a breakthrough in Digital Media. 

Fig 1: shows the growth in numbers of facebook users over the years

Today, the active number of monthly users in Facebook are around 2.3 Billion. India has the most number of facebook users.Every teenager and youth would most probably have an account on facebook. According to statistics, the number of people between the age 20-30 years accounts for the major percentage in the usage of Facebook. As consumers we all would have doubts regarding the way this pioneer platform works. Let’s understand the same in the upcoming paragraphs. 

Facebook – Backend Story:

The Facebook site was developed with PHP and later on they developed a compiler named Hiphop which will transfer the PHP code to C++ code.This was mainly done for improving the code efficiency. It was developed by engineers of Facebook. As expected the compiler was 5.5 times faster than the conventional PHP engines.

As the number of users increases over the years , the data to be processed increases at an enormous rate. For example if a user searches for his friend with a particular name , there would be multiple users under the name. So to reduce the efforts of the user facebook has to filter out them based on criterias like location , school, place of work etc. It is a difficult task to be processed as the amount of data involved in it is huge. Facebook uses open source software named Hadoop for processing the information. 

Initially facebook had features of users sharing images with their friends. It also had an option of tagging people while sharing pictures. This option helped users to get connected to their old friends , friends of their friends. Facebook uses Haystack to store all these images uploaded. Haystack has a separate server and storage system for storing the images uploaded. The image uploaded by the user is uploaded to the server with a separate index and stored in the storage space.

Facebook Algorithm:

The news feed of Facebook initially showed the posts , updates and stories shared by the friends or connections of the user. Due to the rapid growth in the number of users , it started to provide options for brand advertising and marketing.Gradually they started advertising for brand values which made the news feed flooded by irrelevant advertisements to the user. This led to the reduction in the number of users  substantially. Users in exasperation started to switch from facebook to other social media platforms. Emerging social media platforms like snapchat , telegram started to capture the market at an expeditious phase.

Then facebook came up with algorithms which put out the newsfeed in such a way that it is relevant to the user’s interest and likes. Users were given the chance to remove the ads which do not captivate them. Facebook Algorithms studied the behavior very closely.  It observed the user interaction according to the post content , time spent on the post , likes and shares of the post. Based on these observations , the newsfeed of each user was curated. Apart from this facebook conducted user surveys where various questions were asked to perceive the user behaviour better. Personal choices were given preference to please the users. 

Facebook algorithms run neural network models and filter the post which will not catch the individual’s attention. Then they began to give a score to every post in the filtered category. The posts were shown on the individual’s newsfeed according to its score in order of highest to the lowest. By this way the users got a feel that their time on facebook is utilised in the right course.

Facebook stellar marketing :

On the flip side , Facebook has to maintain the reach they have promised to the business pages which pay them. Hence the algorithms were designed in such a way that the user analytics is useful for both sides. Thus it will turn out to be a win-win situation. It helped brands to understand the time map of user engagement according to the geography and days of the week. When the post timings of brands aligned with the time map suggested reaches were promising.

Video contents were more promising when compared to images and articles. But video contents which are long and elaborate were not played fully as the people lose interest in the midst of the video. Hence Facebook suggested brands to do simple , attractive and short videos to attract consumers. Live videos of launching and product showcasing were recommended to small business owners. People were excited to know that they were a part of the product introduction of their favourite brands which made them feel a step closer with the brands of their choice.

Fig 2: shows the most promising techniques used by facebook for helping brands reach its customers

Freshness of the post played a vital role in the score of the post. In case a brand announces an offer for the first week of the month and the content is shown to the user in the second week due to the algorithm prioritization then it would be of no use to both sides. Hence the algorithm took the recency of the post as a crucial element for providing scores to the post. 

Facebook also had groups to promote small business. These groups recommended brands that are of good quality. A Recent online study proved that Facebook provides the best Return of Investment for the marketers. This is mainly because of the continuous changes in the Facebook algorithms , integration of Instagram promotion to Facebook, Facebook groups etc. 

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