LearnFacebook.com is now the Internet

writes on February 7, 2011

I stayed up till 2am last night to watch most of the Super Bowl (I’m an American living in the UK). I watched a ‘pirate’ stream on Justin.tv so I could watch the commercials. That’s a whole other post, but I digress …

The interesting thing I noticed is that almost 100% of the big brands (Doritos, Ford, Coke, etc) were displaying their Facebook URL at the end of the commercial (like facebook.com/doritos).

What’s astounding about this is that the world, for better or worse, is moving to Facebook actually being perceived as the same thing as the Internet. The average person might not distinguish between doritos.com and facebook.com/doritos, and over time, the traffic is at Facebook so they re-direct the .com to Facebook. Scary.

Love it or hate it, I guess I was right when I said you need to jump back into Facebook. As Web Professionals, we need to pay attention to this fundamental shift and act accordingly.

78 Responses to “Facebook.com is now the Internet”

  1. I saw an advert recently that ended with the line “You can find out more at our facebook page, or on the web.”

    A little part of me died when I heard that “or”.

  2. lol not even close, facebook is NOT the “internet” and never will be. don’t get me wrong, it’s a great site, but not necessary nor even remotely close to ubiquitous with “the internet”. You really need to shake your facebook addiction and maybe even go outside for some sun and fresh air if you think so.

  3. When I read this it struck me that you were stating the obvious because there has been a good deal written about how Facebook is eating the Internet. (Apparently it’s not so obvious judging by some of the comments.)

    I agree that there are a lot of reasons why little thefacebook.com became ubiquitous where big AOL & Myspace didn’t (but what about Prodigy and Geocities LOL?). Now that the site is all grown up, its massive scale gives it a much greater reach and impact. Currently, there is facebook and then there is the rest of the web. In fact, I would argue that the most effective way to get some quick traffic to a “regular” website is to spread it through Facebook (but that could be the subject of a whole other debate.)

    As bit as it already is, it’s growing, and I think you understate things a bit. The “astounding” implication is that Facebook is becoming a filter for the rest of the web — content, advertising, everything.

    My question is “How much bigger is this facebook thing going to get?”

  4. This is a really interesting way of seeing it, but I totally agree with you that Facebook is the new Internet. Now that the big brands are all on, the small businesses will follow for sure.

    Shameless Plug: We have an application that allows you to customize your Facebook Page quickly and easily without coding. It’s all template based. Please check it out. It’s called TabTrick (http://tabtrick.com).

  5. Although it’s not good for my business (I’m a web developer). I told a potential client just the other day that for her needs, I thought having a fan page was the best use of her time/resources. In her case a fan page is capable of meeting all her requirements and that’s where everybody’s eyes already are. Hey, at least I’m honest.

  6. I posted some of my thoughts on this subject on my blog: http://www.paulsprangers.com/?p=31 I find it a fascinating subject, but a bit scary.

  7. Facebook Pages offers such a standardized template along with the minimal ability to customize FBML, besides sitting on a ubiquitous platform, that it is no wonder we are seeing this happen. Much as I hate to see it happen, most businesses seem to believe that a social media presence is all they need and a website is quite unnecessary. It’s not a dying trend yet, but eventually the power and the freedom of the free web is impossible to ignore.

  8. NickSpacefire on February 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm said:

    I recall a time when everyone thought their college or institution’s VAX system ‘was the internet.’

  9. Hi Ryan – great post. Yeh, I’ve noticed that more and more businesses are advertising their Facebook profile before their website, and re-directing to their FB profile from their site. It’s not really surprising when you read that 1 in 4 pages viewed on the internet are Facebook pages. People are on there everyday and that’s where they’re comfortable. They’re happy for the information to come to them, rather than having to search for it, and if all they have to do is Like a Page to do that, it’s super-easy.

    I wrote a blog recently comparing the stats between my blog analytics and my Facebook business page stats, and it’s staggering to see the results for Facebook are so much higher. You can check it out here, if you’re interested:


  10. I think eventually companies (and consumers) will realize that giving Facebook the keys to their kingdoms is a bad idea. So people comparing this to AOL or MySpace a few years ago are not incorrect nor contradicting your prediction. The Facebook cycle may last longer, but I think it is still a cycle.

  11. In the nineties they used to have an AOL link. Now they use Facebook and twitter. Tomm they will be running on 4sq. Marketing depts have to justify their existence and will always to trying to reach new audiences and consumers. Facebook is not the Internet!

    • Comparing Facebook with Aol is just bizarre. Technology, user
      adoption, behaviors and delivery methods have *completely* changed since Aol
      started shipping out disks. It’s like saying everyone got a Model-T so why
      should I buy a Volt? Sheesh.

    • Comparing Facebook with Aol is just bizarre. Technology, user
      adoption, behaviors and delivery methods have *completely* changed since Aol
      started shipping out disks. It’s like saying everyone got a Model-T so why
      should I buy a Volt? Sheesh.

      • I think Mus was trying to say that there is a difference between a “fundamental shift” and a trend. Since AOL, companies have been using other, more successful, domains to reach consumers. This doesn’t necessarily mean the internet has become www.(insert domain).com. There was a time where people thought AOL was the internet too, but users evolved. Now there is a whole new group of people joining the internet, the catalyst of which was facebook. They too will evolve to understand that the internet is more. I don’t think it was a “bizarre” comparison.

      • How is it bizarre? Both services provide a limited-function version of the internet which exists within the Internet at large.

      • Hey, the Model-T and the Volt are both cars, right?

  12. Good piece — point taken!

    I read somewhere that Americans now (on average) spend more time on the Web than watching TV, and spend most of their time on the Web on Facebook.

  13. Quit Facebook (“Privacy” but shares everything you say with the world)
    Join Twitter (“public” and shares everything you say with the world)

  14. I think it’s a bit premature for the Internet is dead meme Ryan 🙂

    Facebook is winning many battles, but the net’s a big place.

  15. This is just a new trend and I still believe this is how Facebook will kill itself. The reason why Facebook became popular is because it can connect people. Eventually the fanpage will overtake the profile page and people will start leaving Facebook in droves, it will just become another spam factory like Myspace or AOL. People like Facebook because it was exclusive, but now that its wide open for business and I think its just a matter of time before it starts to collapse.

  16. yea, I can’t believe how most brands are intending to pass thier traffic to facebook. I know facebook isn’t complaining.

  17. “…the world, for better or worse, is moving to Facebook actually being perceived as the same thing as the Internet.”
    Making assumptions about the world, based on Superbowl advertisements – you seem rather ignorant about the world

    • My experience is based on creating websites, talking to hundreds of web
      professionals around the world, and great contacts in the industry who
      inform me of upcoming changes. I’d say that’s pretty valid 🙂

      • Your experience is very valid. I think Patrick’s point is that there are many people outside of our industry, outside of our frame of mind, and outside of the internet in general. A lot of people still don’t even have internet access. His point was simply that a claim that states ‘the world’ is doing one thing or another is on shaky ground.

      • Well I’m sure your credentials are fantastic, but that just makes your initial statement about Facebook even more perplexing. Maybe you should consult your great contacts “in the industry” about these numbers on
        Facebook penetration for the world august 31, 2010:

        Regardless of what your industry contacts make of those numbers, I really hope that they will warn you of letting Superbowl advertisements shape your image of the world.

  18. Don’t get too excited Ryan, this is nothing new, it’s happened before

  19. Companies were doing exactly the same thing when Myspace was the leading social network. This is nothing new.

  20. It is becoming the portal to the internet the way AOL used to be back in the day – “use AOL keyword xxx”

  21. Daniel Vydra on February 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm said:

    Also consider the other benefits: free hosting, and a cms the marketing/product people can update on their own…

  22. Facebook URLs of brands are a good example – How often do you visit these web pages? I hardly ever do, but I visit facebook quite often. So it is a good move for brands. But internet is not only popular and marketed brands. There are different kinds of communities around the net and they are not likely to be moved to facebook.

    Facebook migration is most importany for sites that people are not very likely to visit by themselves 🙂

  23. No. Sorry, I won’t simply be herded for profit, and I am not satisfied with an internet-like experience. There’s more interesting things happening outside of Facebook and its designs.

  24. “Facebook.com is now the Internet” – says the guy with the hipster hat.

  25. Robin Parker on February 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm said:

    By the way, you can see all the Super Bowl ads here http://superbowlads.fanhouse.com/ 🙂

  26. Nice observation. Maybe Facebook is becoming the semantic web that Tim Berners-Lee talked about all that time ago. The advertisers must really like the fact that everybody can actually join in on Facebook — people are forming communities around the brand, not just visiting a dumb website.

  27. Ryan, I thought the same thing about a week ago when I repeatedly saw the same State Farm Insurance commercial, and they directed people to their facebook page instead of listing their own domain — which is nowhere near as entertaining as their commercials.

  28. It wasn’t too many super bowls ago that every commercial had an AOL keyword in it.

  29. I´ve had similar thoughts on how Facebook is becoming a new kind of internet. There´s a massive hype among ad agencies at the moment. I agree with Paul Spranger that this will change again. Also I think Facebook´s privacy politics are a big problem and it may cause damage to a brand´s image. I´ve noticed in my own behaviour, I don´t like visiting Facebook pages that require profile access. I feel a bit uncomfy about it.

    • I completely disagree that everyone is going to move on from FB at some point. Yes, maybe in 10 – 20 years, but not any time soon. FB was created at the perfect moment in human history where broadband penetration hit a certain point. You can’t replicate that condition again, and I think it gave FB a unbelievable advantage. We’re quite close to FB being a ubiquitous ID, whether we like it or not.

      • Not everyone is going to move on, but the web moves fast. Yes, Facebook will still change a lot in the future, but that won’t stop people from getting bored by looking at identical pages offering very similar experiences for years.

        The thing is that Facebook has an edge in keeping people interested. It leverages your social life which is an interest that never leaves. But if it will be the best (and only) place for brands to spread their message?

      • Not everyone is going to move on, but the web moves fast. Yes, Facebook will still change a lot in the future, but that won’t stop people from getting bored by looking at identical pages offering very similar experiences for years.

        The thing is that Facebook has an edge in keeping people interested. It leverages your social life which is an interest that never leaves. But if it will be the best (and only) place for brands to spread their message?

      • Anonymous on February 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm said:

        >FB was created at the perfect moment in human history where broadband
        >penetration hit a certain point. You can’t replicate that condition again

        Similar things were said about other “unique conditions” in the not-so-distant past, and arguments about “first to market.” Yahoo was a very early search engine, but they’re not on top. Travelocity and Expedia were overrun by Orbitz, but they’re being challenged by Kayak and so on. Not to mention all the early names that are completely gone.

        I’m not saying Facebook will die soon, but its survival and expansion is not just due to timing. And as Paul said, people can still get bored with things they once thought were cool. There may be a time when kids say, “Facebook is for old people.”

  30. This reminds me of the time when URLs started appearing on billboards. That was the point at which it seemed that the internet as a channel became a viable business model, even though, at the time (mid 1990ish), it still seemed kind of unpredictable.
    I don’t think anybody really questioned the ethics back then, they were just keen to jump on board and maximise the potential of the channel. And make web pages. I don’t see that businesses really question the ethics of moving to facebook now, they are just keen to jump on board and maximise the potential of the channel. And make fan pages.
    I’d agree that all your internet are now belong to facebook. Its the critical mass of facebook that has enabled that subtle shift. I don’t know yet whether it matters, but you’d be mad to ignore it.

  31. I agree. I think it also has immense and dangerous implications for the open web. As a blog owner (shameless plug: http://t3kd.com) I see more and more of our traffic coming through Facebook. How long will it be before Facebook just decides to scrape all of the content of our sits and just put it in the stream. They already do it with excerpts.

    Excellent post.

  32. Of course, companies should get the FB benefit, but not count on it exclusively. The scary thing here is when a manager decides he doesn’t need designers anymore… :-!

  33. Robin Parker on February 7, 2011 at 10:33 am said:

    Funnily enough, about five minutes after reading this I went to sonyericsson.com to find out about the new Xperia Play, and it sent me straight to their facebook page – nothing on the actual SE website at all

    • Wow, crazy. That’s what I’m talking about.

    • Good post Ryan.
      It is also worth to note that even if all the focus shifts to facebook, this can be a double edged sword and must be done cleverly. Quoting the example of SonyEricsson.. I go to the facebook fan page to watch the Xperia Play… they force me to “like” their page, but I just want to watch the video, I don’t want to share with everyone that I like SE. This can be risky and decrease the perception of seriousness and loyalty, at least to me 🙂

  34. These days it’s all about social media and Facebook. But I can’t imagine that people will always want to stay on Facebook and have every online experience be almost the same.

    Prediction: A lot of consumer brand traffic will go to Facebook this year, but will move back to regular websites in the future. Though brand websites need to be reinvented since they are pretty useless now. Most consumers get a lot more out of Facebook because that’s where the interaction is at. The Doritos website is a great example. It’s all experience, but no useful content.

    To summarize: There’s a reason people go to brand pages on Facebook. Besides jumping back into Facebook, we need to analyze what this reason is and use it to make our stand-alone websites better.

  35. i’m afraid you’re right — at least from the advertising POV. advertisers are turning internet into a junk food media, only looking for the eyeballs where ever they are. at the moment facebook domination is scary, but it’s likely that the effectiveness of facebook is decreasing just the effectiveness of of display advertising in online.

    • I don’t think the effectiveness of Facebook reaching targeted audience is increasing, not decreasing. The more info people put into FB, the more powerful it becomes. All those ‘Like’ buttons are serving a powerful purpose: learning our intentions.

      • Do they really need Facebook to tell them this? I mean, don’t they already know who buys their product? Do companies really expect me to become more engaged with their chip/beer/car brand simply because they have a Facebook page? Am I part of a brand ‘community’ simply because I press a like button?

        I ask these questions because I really just don’t get why Facebook’s demographic information is so much better and targeted than any other means of gathering that information. If I were a company owner and I didn’t know this information out of the gate, I’d be very concerned.

        In the end, if Facebook ‘becomes the Internet’ won’t we simply be right back to where we started? I think companies overestimate the impact of advertising the way every other company advertises. As a company you need to stand out to be attractive. If Facebook becomes the standard then it will no longer be a way to become a ‘breakout’ brand.

  36. In Fact Yes The Facebook now is The Internet all Things in internet found in Facebook :D:D

  37. I disagree. You are suggesting an embrace of the walled garden, with little to no difference from the days of Compuserve. That’s a future no one in our profession should embrace, and is the single largest reason to push your users/clients/etc away from Facebook.

    • Anonymous on February 7, 2011 at 10:13 am said:

      Your general point is a good one, theoretically but Ryan and Adam (below) are right; Facebookis where the eyeballs are and where many clients want to be. Is this another phase/fad that will pass (once the audience moves on to the next great web platform? Of course. But Facebook is hard to ignore as a platform for marketing our clients, whether we like it or not.

    • I’m not ’embracing’ it. I’m simply stating a fact. This shift is happening, whether we like it or not. Better to see this, and act upon it, then hide our heads in the sand.

      I think we should start educating clients and the public about the power of maintaining your own presence on the web, and leveraging Social when necessary.

  38. In the past few months I’ve changed my policy entirely on developing for Facebook. That’s where the eyeballs are so clients are looking to take advantage as much as possible. Some people seem to prefer a Facebook profile/fan page to an actual website, which is worrying from a developers point of view. In my eyes, it should be used more as another tool to drive traffic to your own site than anything else.

    • StevenMale on February 8, 2011 at 9:34 pm said:

      I agree that FB (and Twitter for that matter) are traffic drivers but only when there’s fulfilment on offer. 
      For some of my clients, FB is the key channel for brand engagement – they have likers and followers who only come to the main website to purchase. They’ll accept (and pass on) regular updates, taking the bait and clicking through only when there’s an offer that tickles their fancy.
      The customer wants an easy life and liking or following a brand gives them that: “Don’t want to go to your website, just tell me stuff.” Sure, their timelines get clogged up with updates but we’re evolving to deal with it. I get hundreds of tweets a day but I speed browse them all, picking the pearls from the swill. And I check all the time. 
      There’s great value in social follows, even when your followers follow everyone.
      Social is key. It’s loose and fast and it’s human, it feels democratic but it’s mostly about “me”. Few websites feel like this. And it’s a game changer as the smartphone becomes – as it must – the main method for accessing digital content. 
      At the moment the website enables fulfilment and the “more info” function but as more of us tote mobile devices of all shapes, sizes and OS, I wonder if we’re going to see the end of the web as we’ve known it, with websites becoming glorified checkouts, the last step of an engagement process which may have taken in FB, Twitter, location-based push marketing, QR codes in print, mobile or desktop app, display ads and so on.

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