Facebook celebrates its 10th birthday today, a decade after Mark Zuckerberg launched “Thefacebook” from his dorm at Harvard University on 4 February, 2004.
Designed as a way to connect students, and let them build an online identity for themselves, since then, the site has expanded to cover most of the planet, with more than 1.2 billion people or roughly one-seventh of the world’s population accessing it on a monthly basis.
“Facebook has come a long way since its inception and is now much more than a place to ‘upload pics’," says Markos Zachariadis, Warwick Business School Assistant Professor of Information Systems, who has researched the company and looks into innovation in social networks.
"It is the largest social network in the world, but many are questioning whether it will survive another 10 years.
"Another innovation and network may come along to threaten its dominant position in the market, but Facebook is in a good position to expand and grow further, thus creating a strong ‘network effect’ and adding new services to keep users engaged."
Zachariadis believes its recent investment in mobile applications, which include the recently launched ‘Paper’ application in the US as well as the acquisition of Instagram, plus efforts to understand better and target the mobile advertising business can ensure it is around for another 10 years and beyond.
"I can see it going from strength to strength - predictions for population accessing the internet from mobile devices in 2017 is an impressive four billion," he adds.
Facebook has a huge amount of data on its 1.23 billion users; Zachariadis believes lots of companies would pay a big premium to take advantage of that information, which has major implications for marketing.
In the age of big data, he claims Facebook can capitalise on this user generated data for even better targeted advertising and marketing.
“Facebook has created a rich marketing ecosystem providing solutions for many organisations, who are eager to go beyond the occasional ad and keen to engage with their customers (it is a social network after all)," Zachariadis adds.
"Allowing developers to plug onto its platform through APIs (Application Programming Interface) is also a smart move by Facebook that opens the door to additional value propositions for its extensive user base.
"The successful examples of social gaming, and Zynga more specifically with the successful launch of FarmVille in June 2009, demonstrates the breadth of opportunity within the Facebook ecosystem - Zynga is now a $1.14bn revenue company and until last year 80 per cent of its revenue came from Facebook.
“Security and privacy are two of the most important elements for the success of social networking sites in the near future.
"Who has access to our digital footprint and the data that we generate throughout our interaction with social platforms are important issues most networks will need to address based on local laws and international regulations.”
Will Facebook last another 10 years? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below