On 4th February Facebook was 10 years old. It has 1.23 billion users that is 1 in 6 of the entire worlds population. Ponder those three facts for a moment. A company that did not exist 10 years ago now has as many users as India has people.
Facebook was not the first social-network. The most intriguing thing about it is why it emerged as top dog in a long-established and crowded marketplace. The idea of computer-mediated social networking is an old one that goes back to the 1970s and the history of the subject is littered with the carcasses of ventures that flourished spectacularly before either crashing and burning (e.g. MySpace) or finding its niche (LinkedIn).
When Facebook emerged, the most obvious comparison was with MySpace, but even then it was clear that they were not direct competitors. MySpace was vulgar and slightly weird – partly because it allowed users to decorate their pages by adding HTML code. Facebook, by contrast, looked dull. And it was exclusive – you had to be a student at an elite US university to be a member. It looked as though the social segregation of the real world also applied in cyberspace!
Facebook triumphed for a number of reasons. One of them was the single-mindedness of its founder and early staff: unlike many other ventures undergoing explosive growth, Facebook coped brilliantly. But its marketing was also spot on gradually adding less elite universities before eventually opening up to the world.
From then on the law of self perpetuation kicks-in meaning the more users there are on a social network, the more attractive it will be to people who are contemplating joining. What it means in practice is a potential winner-takes-all situation. Which is where Facebook is now.
I wonder where it will be in 10 years from now – the fact is reports of its demise are greatly over-stated! Doesn’t your business deserve a slice of this action? speak to me about how you can best use Facebook to promote your company.