Why Facebook is King: Success and Competitors

We all know what Facebook is. Most of the people we know use it to connect and to entertain themselves through games. What made it popular and successful is how it revolutionized social media, sharing of information and online entertainment. Facebook users range from civilians to politicians, actors and actresses, music bands and charity organizations, and just about anybody that can use a computer and has internet access.

Of course Facebook has its issues with user information being used in advertisements and tons of privacy and security issues, but let’s not dwell on the dark side and see why Facebook is hot. You know, ignorance is bliss.

One News Feed to Rule Them All


All of the status updates, photos, videos, and links shared are seen on one page. No need to load and go to someone else’s profile just to see what’s up with them.

Among social networking websites, Facebook gave way for idols and businesses to have their “page” and be noticed by people. With its massive user base, of more than 500 million active users, it is surely a place where business can be advertised for free or by using Facebook’s advertisement system.

Now I will state and list the obvious thing about Facebook’s News Feed:

  • Right now, advertisements to your right are refreshed depending on what you are talking about on your wall posts. Making it easier for services to reach their target users.
  • To your left are all the application requests, group notification, online friends, and shortcuts to applications you frequent.
  • Your news contains every update of your contacts that you are in regular contact with.
  • To the right, there are friend suggestions, sometimes random stuff about the “past”.
  • There is also group chat and individual chat.

All of these on just one page, without the clutter.

Uniformity

Blue and white on every page, red for notifications, not too many graphics, and every profile page design looks the same. For me, this is the first thing Facebook did right. No background glitter that seem to run through the bloodstream of anyone who visits a page, no annoying GIFs on comments, no annoying background music or anything that can alienate users.

Updates


It took me quite a while to notice that not all of my contacts are appearing on my news feed. It appears that Facebook is filtering people whom I regularly interact with and only their updates are delivered to my feed. That’s a very nice thing, in my opinion, less mess.

Facebook’s interface sure has changed a lot, with each change there were campaigns from its users saying “bring back the old news feed!” but nothing happened. Unlike websites like Digg and the Gawker network who had a major redesign, Facebook did not suffer from their redesign partly because key elements of the previous interface are still there and not totally redesigned/removed. The air of familiarity is important, like a comfortable cat smelling its own scent.

Text updates used to be immediately right after the poster’s name, now they’re placed below. Instead of clicking a button to comment, users now only need to press the return key.

Entertainment


There are many games that have risen to fame through Facebook. Games like Farmville and Backyard Monsters enable their players to play with their friends. This is not a new concept, but integrating gaming and social networking sure is fun. Many young people, like me, migrated to Facebook from Friendster or MySpace because of the games. To this day I am competing avidly with my friends just to get the highest score.

Another important thing to point out is the real-time update on the home page. You see things as they are posted, no need to refresh the page just to find out if there’s something new. Then there’s the Like button, is it not entertaining when many people like your post? Kind of makes you want to be more constructive and post funny, important, and striking updates.

After seeing the success of games in Facebook, Friendster began incorporating the idea to at least save themselves from sinking. From millions of users a day down to just a few thousand, Friendster tried to survive the social networking competition and now it has downgraded to a social gaming website like Kongregate. I don’t know the figures, but I’m pretty sure that not much of its user-base remain now. I am among the people, along with 90% of the people I know, who have migrated to Facebook.

A couple of days ago I saw a thread in Reddit where people talked about music. That Facebook should also have music, then one commenter said “Facebook is not MySpace.” Do you think Facebook will be better off without music as one of its major feature or do we need it? For me, I prefer it as it is now.


Where are they Now?

Friendster

In my opinion, Facebook’s foundation is so deep that it will be very difficult for it to fall now. There might be a new thing to rival Facebook, but it may function totally different. Does that even make sense? Well, I’ll try to explain so please bear with me.

You see, Friendster was like a bulletin board where people post on your profile and look at everything you upload. If people will look back now, Friendster is very different from Facebook. Although they’re both social networking sites, whose purpose is to connect people, their elementary function is so different. That difference is what spelled Facebook’s success. And if ever there will come a time soon that Facebook is to be defeated by another, its purpose might be the same but having a different function.

Twitter

I’m not sure if Twitter is a competitor to Facebook or they go hand-in-hand in all this social networking buzz. But I know a few people who left Facebook for Twitter.

Twitter was featured in our local news (Philippines), apparently many of my countrymen are using it to connect with their idols like Lady Gaga and other Hollywood actors and actresses. The good thing? They reply back.

Another is the 140 character limit set on every tweet. Remember the time when people used telegrams to send messages and were charged per letter? Neither do I, but I know what that is and I’ve been told that people learned how to live the saying “less is more.”

MySpace

Right now, MySpace is focused more on entertainment than any other social networking site out there. What MySpace is trying to do is to connect individuals based on their taste in music and celebrities. It may be a good thing, this way of trying to salvage what used to be the most used and visited social website.

Just a month ago I remember having some difficulty with MySpace, and being the lazy kid that I am, instead of learning my way through my problem, I contacted MySpace. Lo and behold, in less than 5 minutes I was talking to one of their customer service representatives through e-mail. Problem solved, five stars for being helpful.

Multiply

Multiply used to be like Blogger, add only the social networking side where people can “follow” someone and be updated on just about anything. I used to religiously update my Multiply with things I want people to read, I know many people do too. Now, Multiply has shifted from that to supporting online sellers.

In their about page, they defined Multiply as a “Social Shopping” site “that feels like a visit with friends to the Shopping mall…”

Don’t even get me started on those Facebook Killer startups that didn’t see the light of day…

What do you think?

Rean John Uehara

Rean concurrently served as the Head of Operations and Editor-in-Chief of 1stwebdesigner from 2011 up until Aug 2014. He regularly writes about freelancing, technology, web design, and web development with a little touch of internet marketing here and there.

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Comments

  1. Spinzer says

    It is a great function of the Multiply used to be like Blogger, add only the social networking side where people can “follow” someone and be updated on just about anything.

  2. Manny says

    140 characters attached to each tweet. I remember when people used to send telegrams were charged in a letter? Me neither, but I know what it is and I said that people have learned to live this

  3. Micha says

    twitter and facebook are completely different, I love facebook and I can not really anfreuden with twitter. I think it’s much the design

  4. Tim says

    “The air of familiarity is important, like a comfortable cat smelling its own scent.”
    LOL, that is the dumbest line I have ever read ANYWHERE! I don’t know how old you are, John, but you need some writing classes.

  5. Steve says

    Honestly the feed is the only worth wile thing in FB :/ I really can’t wait till the nextbig social network hits because I’m ready to jump ship. My biggest probolem is you can’t personalize anything!! I know this was abused on myspace and pages were ugly looking and took forever to load but facebook is like the void of creativity!!! Look how far people go to stand out by making all there top pictures into a pattern and such.. I can’t have any sticky posts? Facebook sux.

  6. says

    I love facebook and as you point out – one feed to rule them all – that’s the point – it’s all in one place. The first thing I do in the morning while drinking coffee and smoking first cigarette – I open the Facebook and see my news both personal and business.

  7. Ian says

    I have a web design company in Houston, TX and I have not had to much success utilizing all that Facebook can have to offer especially when it comes to finding prospects. I need to get more into it and full use it as a business generating tool.

  8. says

    The whole privacy thing at facebook bugs me. Every time I turn around it is something with them. Goolge, Microsoft, Apple same thing though. I guess it’s just one of those things we have to deal with. Regarding myspace, they had a good thing going, but messed up and didn’t capitalize on what they could have. I don’t rule them out, but they certainly have a long way to go to get back in the game.