Started in a college dorm by Mark Zuckerberg and some of his roommates in 2004, Facebook has rapidly exploded to become the world’s most widely used social networking site, captivating one-sixth of the entire world’s population. Facebook’s mission is to give people a platform to be more connected and open with others. Facebook experienced a number of major milestones that helped put it on its road to success.
In February 2004, Facebook officially opened, yet was available only to Harvard students. It then became public for anyone in the U.S. to join in September 2006, and opened up for other countries within the same year. In September 2008, Facebook became integrated into the iPhone and its first app was launched. The “like” and “share” buttons were installed in Facebook in 2010 and in July of the same year, Facebook reached 500 million users. Finally, in October 2012, Facebook attained 1 billion users with more users continuing to join.
There are many factors to be considered regarding how Facebook became so successful so quickly, three of which include its layout, global reach, and the virtual empathy it creates between users. Design is the first factor as to why users are initially attracted to Facebook and what has brought it on its road to success. Facebook is clean, simple, organized and easy to use. The founders intentionally made Facebook to have easy access; they followed Google’s example of simplicity because they saw how effective it was. A newcomer could quickly set up an account and navigate through with little trouble. The organized layout puts a focus on personal experiences and helps one to engage in the lives of his or her friends.
Secondly, Facebook’s reach is what makes it equally as popular. People from all over the world can become synchronized and connected with one another through the same platform of sharing and disseminating information.
Facebook began promoting its site worldwide as early as 2006, when the founders opened this site to the entire public. In a span of a year after launching this cause, the number of Facebook users age 15 and older jumped 72 percent to 114.1 million worldwide, according to comScore, Inc.
Users around the world were helping to translate Facebook into their own languages. Facebook installed a translating app in 2008 and nearly 10,000 volunteers were used to help translate the site into French, Spanish, and German. The translation app then opened to everyone so that it could be translated into any major language around the world.
Facebook became so successful globally that in 2012 there were only seven countries where Facebook was not the most popular social networking site. According to Facebook, 81 percent of its users at that time were outside of the U.S. and Canada.
In North America, 46.6 percent of people use Facebook, Western Europe has 35.7 percent, Latin America has almost 30 percent, Central and Eastern Europe have almost 25 percent, the Middle East and Africa have 11 percent, and Asia has 7.1 percent of people using Facebook, according to the research firm eMarket.
Thirdly, Facebook creates “virtual empathy” between its users. Dr. Larry Rosen, a professor at California State University at Dominguez Hills, uses this phrase to describe Facebook as an outlet where people can have the ability to understand or share in someone else’s emotional state. Facebook is a huge platform for users to share information they found on the web that is funny, touching, educational, shocking, and everything in between. Not only has it become the predominant way of disseminating information, users have grown accustomed to sharing their lives on it as well. By posting pictures, updating statuses, making comments, and engaging others through the like or share button, Facebook has become a way of building an emotional connection with others.
With the introduction of the like and share buttons, Facebook was able to attain more referral traffic according to Shareaholic. The like and share buttons are pressed over 22 billion times daily on over 7.5 million websites. Sites such as news stations, blogs, and YouTube will almost always have a link that allows one to share content on Facebook. The number of times content is “liked” or “shared” shows society’s desire to spread ideas to each other and to participate in the online community.
Jason Mathis is an example of how vital Facebook has become in sharing one’s life with another. Mathis served in the army and during one of his deployments to Afghanistan, his wife Kembra was pregnant. Luckily, he was able to have ample Internet access at his base and left his Facebook open all day. According to what he shared on Facebook, he constantly checked in to see updates on the baby and watched the photos or status updates his wife put up.
Through this site he was able to virtually participate in seeing the baby’s first breath and first time Kembra held the boy. Mathis’ experience rings true of Facebook’s social mission to give people the power to share and to make the world a more open place. From its core, Facebook’s goal to help people connect and the unique resources it offers to get people to do so remains a primary reason it has been able to pave its way effortlessly along the road of success.
By Joyce Chu