Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Sheryl Sandberg: Social Media Helps Drive the Global Economy

Social media is “a really unique bright spot” in the challenged world economy, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg argued in a speech Tuesday at the DLD conference in Munich.

“It’s not just posts and pictures and the fun things with friends, but this is really serious stuff,” Sandberg said. “This is about growth, this is about jobs and empowering people.”

Facebook added $15.3 billion in value to the European economy in the past year, according to a new Deloitte study released today, Sandberg said. Business associated with the company was responsible for 232,000 jobs in Europe this year, the study also found. (Here’s Facebook’s summary of the study, and Deloitte’s PDF.)

Sandberg, who closed DLD and seemed to be the most-anticipated speaker at the event, said Facebook will today start a promotion to give €100 worth of ad credits to 50,000 European small businesses. She acknowledged that that’s a minor amount, but said it should be enough for most small businesses to reach all of their target customers on Facebook.

Facebook is planning to go public later this year, and while Sandberg presented on larger trends, she was also obviously trying to justify the company’s value.

Sandberg shared a variety of examples of Facebook app makers and advertisers who are seeing impact from Facebook, from social game maker Wooga to music service Spotify to traditional Bavarian clothing maker Trachten Angermaier — which apparently grew sales 20 percent in the past year and hired eight more people, based on its presence on Facebook, she said.

Even though the average Facebook user has just 130 friends, Facebook research indicates that “the distance between one person and one million is four steps,” Sandberg said. That is, it takes just four people sharing content from a brand to reach one million users.

“This is word of mouth at scale,” Sandberg said.

Facebook is now the No. 2 driver of Web traffic (after Google), and Web visitors referred by Facebook tend to be more engaged than those from other sites, Sandberg said.

On a broader level, Sandberg argued that social media is transforming interactions between people and businesses. She identified what she thinks are the three major social media trends:

  • The ongoing online transition from “anonymity to authentic identity”
  • The importance and value of “the wisdom of friends” versus straight information
  • “The transition from being receivers of information to being broadcasters of information,” which is shifting power from institutions to individuals.

(Image credit DLD)

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.

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