I have an account on Facebook for quite a while now but I actually don’t use it a lot. The main reason for this was that I didn’t get it – I just didn’t understand why I should poke or superpoke someone.
On the other hand I could see the benefit of a huge number of friends (like Robert Scoble, who frequently complained about the limit of 5000 friends) because by “friending” you, they give permission to receive updates from you which can be used as a new communication channels. Nevertheless this reasoning didn’t explain why millions users spend time on Facebook when you are not trying to sell something or spread ideas.
And then I heard the speech from Robin Hunicke at lift08, a researcher at Electronic Arts and suddenly it made sense. When you play computer games like World of Warcraft your fantasy is to be a “warrior who wants to fight in a land of war”. Facebook also helps its users realize a fantasy – the fantasy is “I am a person living a fun life……and I am loved”. And just like in other computer games where you can collect points and stars for for certain activities, in Facebook your score is determined by the number of friends, graffiti, gifts, hugs, laughter, wins and photographs on your Facebook profile. The most important aspect is that everyone of your friends can see whether you are “living a fun life and are being loved”.
How many other applications do you know that make you feel loved?
Watch the speech online: