There are a lot of people who are waiting for ‘the next big thing’ in social networking to come along. After the demise of countless social networks over time – among them SixDegrees, Friendster and MySpace – it is understandable that we would assume a similar future for a platform like Facebook.
But what detractors and pessimists fail to consider, is basic human nature and the concept of critical mass…
At its height, SixDegrees had a little over 3.5 million users. Friendster came too soon. It was born during social media’s infancy and before anyone, investors included, had realised the potential of social networking. As a result, the site began crashing and users left en masse. Then came MySpace, lacking the insights that Mark Zuckerberg brought to Facebook. Relationships were superficial, and MySpace evolved into a fad where users tried to get as many friends as they could.
When Facebook launched, offering a simple and seamless user experience, coupled with real names and based on real world relationships, people migrated very quickly from MySpace. The status quo now, is that Facebook has over 1.3 Billion users, and huge capital reserves. Those users are fully invested in the platform, accessing Facebook more often and for longer than any other website on the planet. It has become a part of the majority of users’ daily life, and this is the secret to Facebook’s longevity.
The idea of leaving the Facebook environment and starting from scratch on a new platform is, as Evgeny Morozov says, simply too daunting. The 1.3 billion users – almost 20% of the world’s population – are simply too invested in the platform to move on to something new. As the numbers continue to swell, and dear old Zuck rolls out his internet.org movement, Facebook is permeating every aspect of our lives. And the more it becomes a part of every day life, the more it entrenches and ensures its own survival.