Among all the active social media networks in existence today Facebook is undoubtedly the king. This is despite the fact that at the time of Facebook's inception there were other social networks dominating the scene but who eventually fell by the wayside. So what did Facebook get right?
1. Ease of Use
Facebook was easy to use from the beginning, a factor that endeared it to many. But the same cannot be said of a social network like Twitter which requires users to have an understanding of hash tags and symbols such as @ which ends up restricting the service from widespread adoption. Facebook on the other hand is intuitive.
Right from inception Facebook opted for minimalism. Compared to it's competitors then who gave their users the ability to customize their pages as they liked leading to an ugly cluttered layout, Facebook went for a clean simple design that was largely white and blue. Facebook also avoided cluttering user's pages with huge banner ads.
From the beginning Facebook required new users to register using their real names and authenticate with valid email addresses. And even before that when it was only available to Ivy League schools, users had to provide proof of their identity and of their affiliation to the school. This discouraged habits such as spamming and trolling which aided in the demise of other social networks.
improvement The first version of Facebook was simple or even rudimentary but through constant improvements and changes new engaging features were incrementally added. And the hacker mentality embedded in the company ensured that they rolled out new features as fast as they could and then dealt with the consequences later. Some of the changes or improvements caused an uproar but that did not deter the hacker spirit. A hunger for constant improvement was also evident in Mark Zuckerberg the founder who surrounded himself with high achievers as advisors and mentors from whom he learnt a lot from.
Facebook boasts high level engagement with many of it's users spending hours on it daily. The features that made it so engaging include photo sharing, status updates, gift service, social games, voice and video calling and chat. The user engagement was also achieved through Facebook allowing third party applications on it's site. This included such social games such as Farmville and numerous tests and quizzes that users could take with their friends. This not only encouraged more social interaction but it also served to draw in more users.
6. Product Focus
Initially when it was starting out the founder's core focus was on the product and not on the business. This allowed for the development of the Facebook product away from distractions brought about by monetary considerations.
When starting out Facebook was quite nimble and would add improvements to the product very fast. It was thus able to roll out new features before it's rivals could and thus leapfrog them. This nimbleness as a company also enabled Facebook to cross over from a service that was mostly enjoyed on desktop computers to one that is now largely experienced on mobile devices.
8. Controlled growth
In its early beginnings Facebook restricted the registration of users to a level they could handle and only allowed more members when resources permitted. On the opposite side of the aisle though, a social network like Friendster was adding new users at an incredible rate leading to a slow service because the infrastructure in place couldn't handle the demand. Facebook on the other hand was initially restricted to a few Ivy League universities before opening up to more schools and eventually the rest of the world.
9. Strong and focused leadership
By having a founder with strong leadership qualities and who was able to retain immense control over the company, Facebook was able to stick to working for the long term interests of their product and not the short term interests of either venture capitalists or shareholders which could have lead to a dilution of the product.
10. Ivy League Factor
Having initially been a network restricted to Ivy League schools, Facebook had the exclusivity appeal and thus when it was opened up to more users it spiked in membership with new users wanting to enjoy the associative value of a product that was once not available to them.
It's now more than a decade since its formation and these and many other factors colluded to make Facebook the dominant force it is today. What's more the social network's ambitions have not abated and it seems not ready to stop until each and every human being on the planet has signed up. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is a subject that could gather as many likes as 'dislikes'.