Why Did Facebook Fly and Not Die?
Launched in February 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and dorm mates to connect people attending the same university, Facebook has rapidly become the most joined social media network of all time. Word of mouth spread and soon enough, Facebook broke out of those confined walls of Harvard and was being used by students, mums, grandparents and even the occasional dog. To understand why Facebook has succeeded and is still the top social media network today after it’s fourteen years of existence, we need to first look at the fall of its competitors.
The downfall of MySpace
In 2006, MySpace was the top social media network but just two years later after its peak in 2008 with 75.9 million monthly users, it was the first site to get Zucc’d. Using MySpace essentially required a degree in web design if you wanted your page to look like anything remotely cohesive. The simplicity of Facebook’s layout gave people the ability to only see content of people you were actually friends with. Coupled with ditching the need to cause wars between your friends by not putting them on your top friends list were some of the defining features that drove MySpace users over to the Other Side.
Post 2009, the monthly users dropped significantly whereas Facebook’s numbers were on a rapid incline and in an article published by The Huffington Post in 2011, the website was losing over 40 million users per month. Instead of sticking to the music side of things where MySpace’s heart truly lay, it tried to keep up and went into a frenzy, opening up offices in all corners of the world and essentially wasting any money they were making at the time.
Since its fall, MySpace has returned back to its musical roots, and while it still exists (you can still find your old profile, if you remember the login. Just be warned it won’t be pretty) it has undoubtedly fizzled into the background.
Since MySpace’s chilling tale of defeat, Facebook has had an abundance of competitors- however; most of them seem to succeed by staying true to their own USPs. Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit and even Tumblr have all had their time in the limelight and are all still extremely relevant on varying degrees due to the differences between them.
Apart from there being some blurred lines between the majority of social media websites (especially when it comes to new features, such as stories or live videos) they seem to be living harmoniously alongside each other for the most part.
Despite its Internet tyranny, Facebook isn’t completely immune to scandal however and in 2017, the website took some of it’s biggest blows yet. Seemingly, Zuckerberg came across as fairly invincible up until this point, with his only other major blunder being a lawsuit in Facebook’s early days. Zuckerberg’s ex-dorm mates claimed that he had stolen their idea, though this was to be swept under the rug after a significant amount of money was pushed their way.
The 2017 scandals were primarily linked to breaching data protection, meddling in the 2016 US elections via quiz apps, conjuring up Russian propaganda and spreading ‘fake news’ (this is to name only a few!). The website and Zuckerberg synonymously live on though, powering on through anything fired it’s way despite drops in shares or users.
But erm, why?
But the question still stands- Why is Facebook still so much more popular than any other social media? Or rather, who is it popular with? Well, research shows that Facebook’s demographic appear to be getting older as younger users flock to trendier sites like Snapchat and Instagram. The format tends to be easy enough to grasp for older generations who tend to use the site for keeping in touch with friends and relatives. This isn’t to say though, that young people don’t still contribute largely to the site’s success. Users may turn a blind eye to scandals, because at the end of the day, there is really no better way to connect. The site has everything: instant messaging, cohesive news feed, tailored ads.
To adapt, Facebook has taken steps such as separating from its messenger so that now, even that is constantly evolving in terms of layout and new features to keep up with other social media platforms, while still never really changing its original formula. It still appears to be the perfect way to spy on your ex, keep in touch with what your old best friend from high school is doing and share niche memes for all of your piers to see. The world has shifted from “can I have your number” to “add me on Facebook” and it’s become one of the significant aspects of the 21st century.
There’s really no saying in whether Facebook will continue to thrive forever but we don’t see it going anywhere any time soon.