According to Alexa.com, Facebook.com is the second most popular website in the world, and is used by around 44% of global internet users. Facebook is second only to Google.com, which is used for a long list of reasons in addition to social networking, while use of Facebook is limited to social networking.
What makes Facebook more successful than the other social networking websites, such as MySpace, Google+ and Twitter? Let's look at some of the possible factors.
Multi-Generational and Multi-Functionality
MySpace.com is ranked 158th globally, with only around 0.7% of global internet users visiting the website. One primary reason for Facebook's success over MySpace is its appeal to multiple age groups. Facebook has an average representation among the 18-44 age groups, while MySpace users are mostly 18-34, with most of the users being in the age 18-24 age range.
Another area where Facebook dominates the social networking market is activity from corporations. Most businesses have a Facebook page, whereas MySpace appeals mostly to the entertainment industry. With corporate pages on Facebook, you get up-to-date information about the businesses, and it allows clients who manage different household affairs to have a firsthand contact with their suppliers of products and services.
Most companies also have Google+ and Twitter accounts, but since Facebook is substantially more popular than those websites, they are able to reach more people and see much more activity on their Facebook pages, and in some cases update the Facebook pages more often than other social media accounts.
All social networking websites have one central feature: customization. The idea being that your experience should be what you want it to be. However, they all have varying degrees of customization, which seems to determine the users' level of interest. Facebook seems to have mastered the customization feature, as it allows users to customize their profiles/timelines and pages, while maintaining the Facebook layout. This "controlled" consistency prevents users from feeling lost and getting frustrated when they visit other profiles and pages.
With MySpace there is too much customization allowed, causing users to change their profiles into confusing and unidentifiable themes that often frustrated other users, and this became a distraction that drew focus away from the core purpose of the site.
Twitter, on the other hand, is too simple for most people's liking. Each Twitter post is limited to 140 characters and/or a picture, as opposed to being able to post whole albums and longer posts as allowed by Facebook.
It is often said that word of mouth is the best form of advertisement, and this is one of the reasons why Facebook has been so successful. As is evidenced by it being the second most visited website in the world, people are always talking about Facebook and visiting the website. In addition, almost every new electronic device now comes with the option to activate Facebook, allowing the user to have instant access to his or her Facebook account. It is a staple of pop culture, is often parodied and referenced by several TV shows and even has its own critically-acclaimed blockbuster film.
The Bottom Line
Facebook has cemented itself as the king of social networking sites. At this high rate of popularity, it is highly likely that it will continue to remain a leading social networking site for many years to come. Facebook continues to reinvent itself, which helps to keep the interest of its users and ensure that they maintain their status as the leading social networking site in the world. (To learn more about Facebook, read Evaluating The Facebook IPO.)