I remember, in 2006, when I first started to notice Facebook. At that point, it was a basic service, allowing users to connect to one another and share updates and information. It had competitors – myspace and Orkut, amongst many others. Why did Facebook grow to be so dominant?
Facebook’s simple visual identity and early links to the Ivy League gave it an aspirational brand component, which meant that young adults adopted it in droves, which later pulled their parents into the network and then their grandparents.
As well, FB has been quick to adapt to emerging trends in social networking such as the incorporation of hashtags, trending topics and embedded video. As its members’ networks grew, FB’s algorithms that keep you focused on the friends you are most likely to interact with kept users’ feeds relevant.
The perceived rapid responses to demands from users to customize their privacy settings kept the network in its users’ good books. While the actual efficacy of privacy protection is questionable, FB was able to create the perception that it acted quickly.
As well, FB has kept its advertising scheme relevant, with relatively unobtrusive advertising that permitted easy and accurate geotargeting as well as targeting according to SES and other demographic features.
Once FB became a household name and an essential part of many people’s family, personal and work/school lives, it achieved a critical mass which has made it difficult to not be part of for most.
So, a combination of first-to-market, a clean look, prestige associations and quick adaptation has kept FB at the top of the heap.