Facebook has become such a staple of daily life that it is hard to remember a world without it. What would your morning routine be without scrolling through your News Feed? How would you ever remember anyone’s birthday without a friendly reminder from Facebook? But it was not long ago that Facebook was little more than a who’s who of Harvard students known by the slightly less catchy title, Thefacebook.

Since 2004, Facebook has transformed from a social side project to a quintessential component of human interaction. Through the years, the site has seen some huge changes—some of which have caused backlash from users. Despite any negative changes, however, Facebook has not only become the largest social network, but it has also changed the way that people connect and communicate with each other. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the major landmarks in Facebook’s history that have shaped the way we interact with the site.

An Evolving User Base

In its early days, Facebook was an index of college students who spent most of their time on the site poking each other, allowing for plenty of awkward flirting and persistent annoyance. It was not long before it became clear that the site had appeal for individuals outside the college student demographic, however, and the user base rapidly expanded to the one billion active users on Facebook today.

  • 2004– Harvard Students – When Facebook was launched, it was only available for Harvard students to use. Soon, it started to expand to other schools, adding Stanford, Columbia, and Yale. Users could only connect with those from their own schools, and profiles were very minimalistic.
  • 2005 – University Students – Soon, students were flocking to Facebook, as its network expanded to more than 800 colleges. It was not long before Facebook expanded to high school networks and officially dropped “The” from the name. By December of 2005, Facebook had grown to be home to more than 6 million users.
  • 2006 – Anyone Over 13– In September, 2006, Facebook made a change that would alter the landscape of the internet forever. They opened registration to anyone over the age of 13. By the end of 2006, the number of users had doubled from the previous year, with 12 million accounts active across the world.
  • 2017 – Basically Everyone – The average age of Facebook users increased following 2006, as literally everyone and their parents began using the site. Today, it’s rare to come across someone who doesn’t regularly use the social site or at least have an active account. By December of 2007, Facebook had 58 million users, and the number has continued to grow. 2009 marked the 500 million user mark, and in 2017, there are more than 1 billion active accounts.
From Personal Profiles to Real-Time News Feeds

As Facebook grew to become more inclusive, it also moved away from a personal profile-driven landscape. Initially, Facebook profiles were much more detailed, featuring sections like favorite books and movies, interests and “looking for.” Eventually, the platform became less about your own profile and more about seeing what others were up to. Status updates still started with the word “is,” and the real-time news feed was just making its debut, much to the chagrin of many users who were unhappy with the site’s newfound similarities to Twitter. Still, this was not the most important change that would come in 2009. That would happen with the “Like” button, which was officially rolled out in February of that year. In 2010, the site saw a major overhaul in its interface, and 2011 revamped profiles with the addition of cover photos and Timelines. Posts and shares would take precedent over personal information, and interaction with different groups and pages would increase.

Integration of Apps, Games, and Other Social Networks

In 2008, Facebook would launch its chat feature. 2012 marked the beginning of the Facebook App Center and the company’s acquisition of Instagram. Each of these steps had a hand in making Facebook a more comprehensive source of entertainment, reaching far beyond the simple need to keep in touch with friends, family, and former classmates.

Fundamental Role in Advertising

It was in 2007 that Facebook Pages were created, allowing users to create pages dedicated to specific artists, celebrities, companies, and organizations. Today, Pages are fundamental to advertising, because they allow consumers to follow brands and interact with them in ways that were not possible prior to social media. Even businesses that don’t have their own websites have pages on Facebook, showcasing just how essential the site is for marketing.

As Facebook has grown and evolved, it has become clear that the site has etched its place in history and become a fixture of modern marketing. To use this tool effectively for your business, partner with Pennington Creative for your social media marketing services. We’ll help you stay current and relevant in an ever-changing social landscape.

About the Author

Marissa - Digital Marketing Manager, Account Services
Marissa Storrs

Digital Marketing Manager, Client Engagement