Top 5 ways Facebook tricks you into coming back

JWaltenbury By JWaltenbury, 1st Feb 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Web>Social Networks

Facebook is, as it stands right now, one of the biggest powers on the internet to date. Despite the fact that many other sites keep trying to dethrone them, they still manage to stay on top. Have you ever wondered how? Well, here are just a few of the tricks that Facebook uses to keep their members coming back.

Facebook: The Super Power

As almost everyone knows, Facebook has taken the world by storm, and has a commanding control of the Social Media market. However, despite all this competition popping up to try and get a piece of the action (Four Square, Google +, etc.), they just can't seem to put a dent into this all-consuming powerhouse.

Just looking at the stats alone, there is a Facebook account for roughly 1 out of every 13 () people on the entire planet. That's no number to sneeze at, especially when you consider the massive ad revenue being generated by all that activity.

Still though, day in and day out, you find yourself logging back in. How do they ensure such a large member base keeps coming back? Believe it or not, there are actually a few basic tricks they employ that have a huge impact. I'll do my best to share the main ones with you, and hopefully the next time one of these tricks is used you will be able to recognize it. I won't talk about things the social media style site has that inherently makes it work (everything at a glance, creeping, etc.), since that's all pretty much common sense.

Of course, these are by no means sneaky brain-washing techniques or anything, but it never hurts to know these things for if you ever start your own website up and want to boost your numbers.

1. "Facebook changed it's layout AGAIN?!"

We've all read (and sometimes heard) it before: "Oh-em-gee! They, like, totally just changed the Facebook layout on me again! I'm never going to use this site ever again!"

This is a complaint heard across the entire website over what seems like an eternity, and occurs every few months. Yet, interestingly enough, nobody ever seems to stop using the site. This method of constantly changing profile layouts is actually one of Facebook's greatest tricks. Quite simply, by regularly changing up everyone's profiles if forces people to re-adapt, and learn how to do everything again. Now this may seem like more of an inconvenience than anything, but there's a method to the madness.

You see, one of the biggest reasons that people leave a website is due to boredom, and boredom comes when things become stale. To prevent this issue, Facebook keeps on changing their layout to keep things looking shiny and new, and to keep people guessing. Whether it's conscious or subconscious, people feel enticed to learn this 'new' Facebook.

Aha! I can hear some of you now: "So what? They basically made a new site, so of course people will like it." But here's the catch: they are basically just putting a fresh coat of paint on an old wagon. The actual process of creating a new layout (given the resources Facebook has access to) really isn't that big of a deal, and can be both created and bug-tested in very little time. Basically, they have the ability to change things whenever the (highly monitored) member activity starts to droop.

Essentially, Facebook is thriving due to one major factor: they keep things fresh. As much as you want to keep things 'traditional' on a website, that's not the way to keep members coming back on a day-to-day basis. By doing something as simple as changing their layout, Facebook is able to maintain control of a huge population of members; while not even really needing to change anything about the site at all.

2. Major Companies

As much as we want to believe the internet hasn't changed over the last few years, the truth is that is has. Major companies have realized the advertising potential of the internet, and now want to hop on board. Personally, I'm all for this, as it has lead to the creation of a great deal of content (since people can now take their creative abilities online and make a living there off of ad revenue). Of course, a company getting on board with Facebook is a golden opportunity, right?

Here's where things get interesting: these companies are actually partially responsible for the success of Facebook itself. Think about when you are watching TV, or browsing the website of that new back shaver you have been considering; notice that tiny little 'Like us on Facebook' button? Heck, some of them even offer coupons, raffles, quiz prizes, etc. on their pages. You see, these buttons are a simple way for the companies to advertise to much larger populations at very little cost; and to see exactly how many people are interested in their product/giveaway.

When you look at this on the flip-side though, you can see how Facebook is loving the way these companies do their business. The companies bring the people to Facebook for their own advertising purposes,and Facebook enjoys a slew of activity through people making accounts to get to these 'discounts'.

Basically, the businesses use Facebook for cheap, guaranteed advertising, and Facebook uses these businesses as a means of getting more members, and keeping the ones they have interested.

3. Gaming

Zynga, the creators of such well known games as Farmville, Cafe World, etc. started out using Facebook as a new medium for online gaming- one that had not really been seen before up to that point (well, at least as far as social media is concerned). This company is now worth millions, and has hundreds of thousands of active players on their games.

Of course, as we all know from the non-stop notifications, these games are very dependent on player interaction, and 'Skinner Box' style gameplay (essentially, you must do the same thing at the same time everyday or something bad will happen). What this means for the games is that they are going to be getting lots of members (from requests to 'help' a friend in the game), to lots of page-loads (gotta water my crops!). What this means for Facebook is that a whole bunch of activity is coming their way.

These games alone are enough to keep people coming back day after day (and even making multiple profiles), and also bring in a lot of outside interest as to what these incredibly popular time-killers are all about. By allowing these games to exist, and showcasing them when necessary, Facebook has been able to keep what is essentially a guaranteed daily activity by this 'gamer' demographic.

4. Accessibility

Facebook was originally nothing more than a website in which people could post whatever content (within reason) they wanted to for others to see. However, due to it's recent success, it has become much more than that.

Yet another method Facebook uses to ensure you will keep coming back is by making it take effort to not come back. The majority of people now have smart phones which, shockingly, usually come pre-loaded with a Facebook app. Got a new computer tablet? I bet you there's one on there too! And it's so easy to sign on from anywhere, right?

This is exactly what Facebook is aiming for. By making their website so insanely easy to log on to, many people think nothing of browsing through the news feed on their phone while eating lunch. Or that picture of the concert you went to? Already uploaded before you even got home, right?

As simple as this seems, Facebook has put a ton of effort into integrating itself into everyday life. Honestly, most people don't even realize that they are actually on the internet while 'Facebooking'. You could probably ask most people why they are wasting time on the internet over their lunch break and they will respond "Oh, I'm just looking through Facebook, I'm not on the internet". The concept that Facebook has taken on it's own identity is one of it's key features, and only by integrating itself into our world has it been able to thrive so well. Which leads me to another point...

5. You have to.

Ever try to tell somebody you don't have Facebook? Bet they were pretty shocked (if you somehow even managed to be telling the truth). Truth is, Facebook is basically a part of every day life. We've got it so engrained in us that we don't think about it when we use it anymore.

How does that keep you coming back to their site? Well, basically you have to. On multiple occasions, I've talked about deleting my Facebook account just because I'm bored of it, only to be begged by dozens of people not to. Don't get me wrong, I have maybe 30 Facebook friends, so as much as I wish I had an adoring public, that's not the case.

The real issue is that people depend on it now. Here's an example: your cell phone died and you lost a co-worker's phone number. How do you find it? My guess if you aren't busting out the phone book, you are probably messaging them on Facebook for their number. It's simple things like that which make people keep coming back; by making itself an essential part of every day life- a tool to be used even.

All in all, Facebook uses a variety of strategies to keep you coming back- all of which you may not have realized. The reality is though, that Facebook is a huge part of our everyday lives; from communication to entertainment. Without our instant access to one another through a few clicks of the mouse, many of us would be lost. That basic principle, and a few other core principles, is how Facebook keeps you coming back.


Addicting, Facebook, Layout, New, Tricks

Meet the author

author avatar JWaltenbury
Howdy all,
I'm Justin, a University student studying to become a high school science teacher. My material has a wide range of topics; from the nerdiest video game, to quantum mechanics, to life.

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author avatar Sara
5th Feb 2012 (#)

Dork! <3

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