Facebook empowerment-the rise of online based social capital

Exploring Facebook's business model transformative effects on online users


The internet, as an interconnected computer network is valuable for bridging the social and professional relationships through communication across time zones and regardless of geographical locations. For more than a decade, it has been at the centre of the topic that embedded in everyday life practices; attracting the attention of numerous academic and industry researchers. The affordance and the reach of the internet inspire the traditional media to be transformed into various internet-based services. Social networking site (SNS) is, therefore nourished by adopting the website technology and continuously, redefining the possibilities of digitalization. Interactive activities can conduct beyond in-person intercommunication which fosters opportunities for million of users poured into these online platforms to learn, share and inform. Facebook, regards as a representative beneficiary of SNS’s success in society today. It dominates the current market share with ambition and vision to grow its prevalence in the long run. The following underlines how Facebook surpassed the pure platformisation and developed to infrastructure in achieving the optimum expansion of balancing users needs and marketing aims. In other words, the platform also dedicated to enhancing the adaptability to fluctuation’ in the internet environment besides merely focusing on its economic growth. Attitudes and behaviours related to the use of Facebook can allow social capital to arises from the identity construction in the virtual community. Meanwhile, plays a role in influencing the way that netizens perform respectively to the changes involved in Facebook’s business model. The online experience is thereby reshaped in social, economic and political aspects along with the platform histories. This lead to an inescapable evolution rather than revolution encompassing the initiatives empowered to users in the internet ecosystem. 

The internal and external frameworks for Facebook’s operation underpin its internet ecology within its transformative process. It positions itself into a wider ecosystem of media, such as the digital advertising and marketing industry to practice programmability and cooperated partnership. Users connect through multi-dimensional platforms in SNS different from how users are connected in traditional media. The interoperability of data is the enabler of composable services where companies integrate technology with Facebook ( Helmond, Nieborg & Van der Vlist, 2017). Together, both parties allocate and distribute a set of interface to other domains; concealing the shortcomings while supporting the main platform(cf. Nieborg &Poell,2018 as cited in ibid). To obtain, retain and to grow end-users would benefit the cross-side partners because the number of end-users joins the pool is translated into value creation. Facebook accommodates the heterogeneity of organizations by treating the whole as what Gawer pointed out to be the ‘collaborative innovators’ (ibid)-Offering technical and financial supports (Gamusi,2020) to seek balance and to achieve a win-win situation in the absence of conflicts.

The development of the Facebook platform: can be observed in three phrases since 2007

Developers            pastedGraphic.png         Advertisers             pastedGraphic_1.png         Media partners

 Leveraging on the boundary resources provided by internal and third-party developers. 


        “Facebook’s partner lifecycle”.Created by Ye, all rights reserved.


Developer Innovations-Attract

Firstly, Facebook attracts developers for new applications technology. In between 2006 to 2010 ( Helmond et al., 2017), Facebook’s functionality was embedded in the techno-economic progress on Multi-sided markets to extend its presence and power. First stage places emphasis on the platform integrations to encourage innovated tryouts and enduring partnership. 

Advertising & Marketing-Engage

Secondly,  it starts to form a basis for subsequent advertisement and marketing expansions. It singles towards more commercialized strategic planning at the second stage of evolving programmability. The ADs API, for instance, is a google program directly helps partners to conduct advertising campaigns via Google Ads platform (Google, 2020). The vast generations of boundary resource proliferate the maturation of advertising platform and technologies around 2012 with its initial public offerings.

Accumulation of platform boundaries- Enable &Ramp

Facebook led external boundaries resource to interact with internal platform boundaries. After partnerships enter the maturity stage of the partner lifecycle, return on investment ramps as well as the overall operational progress. (Gamusi, 2020). Data collection, on the other hand, came into views structures the foundation for targeting audiences. High-profile acquisitions such as Instagram, WhatsApp followed, contributing to its portfolio diversification which accumulated infrastructural proprieties are advanced into business solutions.



The process of Facebook’s  ‘infrastructuralistion’ up to this point, has not only expanded its boundary-work but have also synchronized itself to other sectors- internalizing the external resources. Additional resources further solidify and facilitate Facebook’s integrations with other correlate marketers.


“Among leading social media websites 80% of the visits came from Facebook”.Created by Ye, All rights reserved


Therefore, it is capable of dominating the social media market by having more than half of the market share; exceeding the number of rivals like Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest, Youtube, and Tumblr (Clement,2020) based on the share of visits (David,2020). Considering its extensive platform boundary resources, it aggreated about 2.50 billion monthly active users world wide (recent data gathered on January 2020).Countries like China, Iran and North Korea are not included for the data evaluation due the government restriction on Facebook services. Furthermore, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg owns Instagram (Shead,2019) which is one of the leading social media platforms,that is to say it is almost impossible to challenge its position in the media industry in Europe and North American region.

Variance in platform architecture at different stages and its malleability per se corresponds to the ever-changing technical and organizational environment predominately in the online advertising industry. Facebook’s digital advertising spending is expected to reach approximately$500 billion by 2023, which is  67% more than the spending calculated in 2019(Enberg 2019, as cited in David, 2020). However, Facebook is currently facing competitions in the industry with the rise of digitalisation. Amazon, Snap, and Google, for instance, are the main competitor that Facebook needs to pay close attention in the long term. Overall,  reveal the importance of striving for a stronger bond and competitive advantages in cooperating with the partners. 


Content & Experience-Manage

Lastly, Facebook moves towards more public-oriented content providers on the threshold of a new era in technology. It has forged its malleability and composability in economic growth and technological expansion. From an operational perspective, its platform development would be relevant to examine the marketing strategies used in the history of transformation. By this means to help illustrate the relationship between its influences and the social capital arise from that influences. The advent of Facebook, unlike other SNS, have employed Niche marketing instead of Mass marketing. It was first dedicated to Harvard students and acquires university email for registration (Cassidy, 2006 as cited in Boyd &Ellison, 2007). At the time, it was perceived to be a relatively private and intimate community. The new business model was introduced to border audience group as time progress, including high school campuses, commercial organizations, and eventually to the whole market. It indicates an alteration to Intra-campus socializing (Zhao, Grasmuck, Martin, 2008) and later shifts from desktop to mobile (Mcmahon, 2019) in the App economy. 


Social Capital 

Following the rise of media partners in Facebook system engenders a virtual sense of community. A cyber community is akin to a shared interest group where individuals are aggregated for expressions, communications and integrations. Information acquisition, sense of belongings, gratifications fulfilled are the manifestations of the real community(Reich,2010). Behaviour patterns within the visual community develop social norms and connection that kept netizen organized. A study of U.S. undergraduate students by Ellison, Steinfield and Lamp (2007, as cited in Zuela &Kee, 2009), states that Facebook is frequently used to maintain existing offline relationships rather than used to make new friends. Also, referring to Putnam’s concepts of Bridging (2000, as cited in Reich, 2010), the features of Facebook can produce weak ties and strong ties social capital. Online platforms can easily construct and increase the number of weak ties among netizens. That would mean more connectivities allows for transferring the effects of Facebook at intrapersonal, interpersonal and behavioural levels as proposed by Scheufele and Shah (2000, as cited in Zuela et al., 2009).

Intrapersonal Level


Hide embarrassing Private Facebook activity“, by CNET, Standard YouTube License

The non-anonymous environment provided by Facebook renders a new form of identity construction. Hyperpersonal Model of self-representation by Walther introduce how information about an individual can be optimized. Users attempt to make them look socially desirable by carrying out activities associated with   (as cited in Gonzales, A& Hancock, p.80 2011). According to Zhao, Gramuck and Martin(2008), the portrayal of  Hope-for possible selves online tend to settle between the ‘true self’  and fantasized ‘ideal self.’  Users are given autonomy in choosing the part of the contents to be public or friends-only as shown on the video above. Facebook empowered users to withhold or conceal ‘gating features’, namely the undesired physical features listed by McKenna (2002), and to present the role which one perceived to be or wish to achieve to groups of other (as cited in Zhao et al., 2008).     


Interpersonal Level

“Friend request” by kaysha is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Facebook’s features fed into personal identity construction, as suggested by Bulter (1990)  identity is attached to online performance(as cited in Cover, 2016). The theory of performativity interprets the cultural role of SNS in extending offline relationships to be anchored online. For example, comments posted on ‘The wall’ are viewable to other contacts or friends can convey sentiment or events that happened in reality. Furthermore, deciding whether or not to confirm a friend request is a self-conscious action that reflects the relationality of individual’s social networks in speaking of self. This also involves a set of complex connotations can be articulated and interpreted in multimedia contents such as images or videos posted. Media presentation emanates individualized process for social participation and belonging that are recognizable to other users and often initiates an intelligible self. So to say that the wall’ and friending settings on Facebook enable the perception of interpersonal feedback and peer acceptance accordingly within the weak tie community. In this way, the platform has made social trust viable online, and that would lead to life satisfaction. 

Behavioural level

The presentations, interactions, and use of Facebook applications are processes that individual become what Hoffman, Proferes, and Zimmer (2018, p.210), describe as ‘empowered social and political actors’  (as cited in Helmond, Nieborg & Van der Vlist, 2019). Users engage in light political activities such as following a candidate or organization, liking one of their posts or sharing socio-political views of opinions on the wall can increase awareness of civic or political engagement. In this way, users are kept updated with current events that might foster discussions or debates, which in turn would develop civic skills. Although the boundaries between political and civic activities are, certainly, unclear, critical thinking and knowledge of political issues are relevant to achieve collective aims in the established community.   

Example of media-centric civic engagement 

Political issues: Canadian government’s introduction of the copyright reform bill in late 2008

Involvement: 20,200 Canadian users recruited via the Facebook group  

The goal of the recruitment:  influence government actions for a change of Copyright Act

                                                  (Nowak,2008 as cited in Zuela et al., 2009)  

Example of spill-over effects of political activity online

During the 2008 U.S. election campaign, (Vital, 2011) found that there is a reciprocal relationship between online political activity and general political participation such as voting. Individuals who possess a relatively extensive social networks experience higher exposure to political mobilization content.

                                                                                           (as cited in Visser &Stolle ,2014)



The above reveals that the online platform can promote social capital through its characteristics of non-anonymity and selective self-representation at the individual level. Thus, building upon the psychological sense of community to construct an image of desired self in the non-anonymous environment. On the one hand, Facebook affordance lowers the barrier for aggregating broader supports in attempting to resolve problems in society and reinforces the ideas of being politically active on the other hand. The interplay between Facebook’s business model and user dynamics coevolve throughout its history of development. Life satisfaction, trust and public participation derived from the touchpoint of Facebook have given insight into the cultural and social demand. Facebook, as one of the most used social networking site, fosters opportunities for self-actualized at the individual level and transformed economically and structurally to mobilize collective socio-political action.





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