Ten years on: the evolution of Facebook


As Facebook celebrates its 10th birthday today (feeling old yet?), we take a look at the rise and rise of Mark Zuckerberg’s revolutionary social media platform. Launched from a Harvard dorm room in 2004, the artist formerly known as ‘The Facebook’ now has 1.23 billion users and is valued at over £90 billion.

As Facebook opened up to the world from being a niche student network, brands desperately tried to claim their piece of the Facebook pie. Of course, there’s been the inevitable backlash, but innovation forges on. Let’s get nostalgic and take a look at some of the highs and lows of the past decade with Facebook.

1)   The early bird brands


Facebook pages launched in 2007 and out of the current Top 85 Consumer Facing Brands, the Colonel with his secret KFC recipe was the first to sign up. Most others didn’t catch up until 2009 or later. Business Insider revealed recently that these early adopters did in fact catch the worm, with many still having more fan likes than those who rocked up late to the party.

2)   Extra! Extra! – News on Facebook


As well as gaining an in depth knowledge of Zinger Tower burgers, Facebook has also exposed users to news, slickly sandwiched between cat memes. A study in 2013 revealed that just under half of adult Facebook users get news from friends posting links or through news sources they follow. This figure represents 30% of the adult population, positioning Facebook as a very influential channel for current affairs.

The imminent arrival of Facebook’s new app, Paper, only serves to cement this, acting as an incredibly valuable way for the media and brands to tell their stories and distribute them within the online community.

Brands wishing to stay ahead of the game need to adapt quickly to this new trend by creating more owned content that is deemed to ‘add value’ to users’ lives.

3)   Breaking eggs – The price of innovation?

A wise man once said, that you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and this is certainly the case with Facebook. Its initial foray into the stock market with its IPO was deemed an unmitigated disaster, leaving trading desks in chaos, Nasdaq claiming a ‘technical error’ and Facebook in hot water.

Following the introduction of Facebook ads, users began to complain that the Facebook experience they knew and loved was being ‘interfered with’ and this debate rages on as ‘anti-ad’ groups continue to grow on Facebook itself.

Further to this, Facebook was made to pay $15 (what’s the big deal you say!)… to approximately 600,000 users in 2013, when they complained about their faces and names being used in Sponsored Stories. Ouch.

4)   Do you speak Facebook?

Remember a time when a glazed-eyed photograph from a night out could go blissfully unnoticed sans ‘tag’? Facebook has brought with it a whole new language. Redefining the word ‘Friend’, you can poke somebody you’ve never met and there’s now a new level of relationship between dating and engagement, namely being ‘Facebook Official’.

5)   The future of Facebook


With more users now accessing Facebook via mobile than desktop, it seems that Facebook is not only adapting to a society always on the go, but visibly benefiting from the user shift from desktop to mobile. Their most recent financial results show that 53% of its advertising revenue now comes from mobile advertising, a staggering 30% increase from last year.

The problem faced by Zuckerberg in his continued quest for user growth is that currently only one third of the world’s population has access to the internet. His solution? Bring the mountain to Mohammed, through deepening relationships with mobile operators to develop new models for internet access and literally bringing Facebook to the doorstep of potential users.

Will he succeed? After making £3.2 billion last week following a surge in Facebook’s shares, we think he just might.