I have been thinking about what makes Facebook so addictive. Why is it I, and many others, come back to this site day and day again. Why is Facebook enjoying more success than HI5, WAYN, Classmates.com, or any other social networking site ever did.
What really started me thinking about this was the sudden re-emergence of several friends I have not seen in 10 plus years. I am of course referring to my high school graduation class, many of whom I had lost track of within one or two years of graduation.
I think the success that Facebook [FB] has enjoyed comes from the ability to connect people. They do this in much the same way people interact in the real world. First off, they organize people into networks. A person can choose to join or leave any network they want, but networks are divided in three categories. They are school, geographic location, and employment. I As a student – and eventually alumni of – Memorial University. I live in St. John’s. Therefore, I belong to both the Memorial and St. John’s networks. This places me in easier contact with other members of the same networks. They reduce abuse by limiting you to one of each network type at a time, and restrict school/employer networks to people who have valid emails with those organizations.
Another great feature of the site is the photo albums. While most social networking sites allow you to add photos, FB allows you to tag the people in the photo, which a) provides a link to the tagged persons profile, and b) adds that photo to the tagged persons profile. This level of sharing has not been seen in other social networking sites.
The third feature that FB allows that had been previously unseen was the ability to say how you knew a person. It could be an club or organization, a class, roommate, family, etc. There is even a “you met randomly” option which allows you to describe how you met them. For example you can choose “took a class together” and it will ask you which class and when. This also provides a social time line.
Finally – and I believe the best – feature has been the minimalist design of the site. Like Google’s many products the FB designers believe less is more. You are never overloaded with advertisements, large/loud graphics, or unnecessary content.
I cannot list every feature but the quick list also includes notes (blogging), groups, events, and messages. These and many other features that FB has incorporated have made it one of the most rapid growing sites. A fully integrated site that helps people do what most people want to do. That is to share, and connect with each other. Check it out at facebook.com