Will Facebook always be number one?

Facebook LikeOne of the most common questions I (and I’m sure, everyone who works in social media) gets asked is, “Will Facebook always be number one?” I think that question says more about the human condition to watch successful things fail than our desire to see Google or Yahoo take the social media crown away from Mr Zuckerberg.

But it is still a very interesting question. Could Facebook come undone?

Well here are three reasons Facebook will be hard to beat.

1. Network effects – No matter how brilliant a new social start-up may be, the fact of the matter is that if your friends aren’t there it’s a very lonely or intimidating place. As users, we’ve spent years building up connections and after you’ve put the graft in, it’s very hard to leave those connections behind.

Personally, I adore the experience of G+ both on web and on mobile but that network effect is still absent and therefore I’m not a regular user (yet).

2. Constant evolution – Whether by acquisition or imitation (a debate I’m not going to get into here), the big social platforms are always adding new features and services. If you look at G+, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn today, they are unrecognisable from where they were six months ago. This means that for the average Facebook user, it appears to be constantly improving, offering rich new features which smaller start-ups can’t compete with.

3. Going where the people are – As marketers we have to be responsible with client budget and give our campaigns every chance to succeed. Because of this, Facebook is usually best placed to be the vehicle for campaigns and therefore attracts the most varied examples of brand marketing. It keeps the cash flow flowing and keeps consumers engaged with brand content as well as stuff from their friends.

We’ve been through privacy scandals, the failed launch of Home and a less than inspiring performance on the stock market until this summer, but still Facebook is still in a pretty secure place as the biggest social network on the planet.

Neil Kleiner is head of social at ais. Follow him on Twitter @nkleiner.