"Initially Facebook was aspirational - its use was restricted to those who attended Ivy League schools and as a result it had been getting a lot of press in the U.S. When it finally let anyone join, it absolutely exploded," he told CNBC.
"Also, unlike some of its rivals, Facebook was based on real names. This was incredibly important because it meant people could search for and find their friends. People were forced to use their actual identity and this really drove the adoption through the roof."
July 10, 2008: iPhone app launched
The launch of Apple's App Store in the summer of 2008 was critical in the history of Facebook's mobile presence. It was one of the first 500-or-so apps available to download from the store.
(Read more: 'Mobile shift is happening,' Facebook execs say)
"What was crucial here was the launch of the iPhone itself," said Maude. "It changed the way we used phones. All of sudden, people were checking their smartphones all the time – at the bus stop; walking down the street – and that's when people started connecting to social websites and particularly Facebook."
But Facebook's foray into mobile wasn't always so successful.
"They had a few mobile ventures that didn't work out so well," Bridget Carey, tech reporter at CNET, told CNBC. "Remember the Facebook phone or Facebook Home? So now their mobile strategy is: having Facebook take over your entire phone doesn't work so we'll just have a bunch of different apps, to hit you with more than one app and help you spend more time on it in different ways."
April 9, 2012: Facebook acquires Instagram
One of the most significant ways that Facebook took this strategy forward was by buying Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 – its largest ever acquisition. The purchase was certainly controversial, and some analysts claimed it had overpaid for Instagram, an app which enables users to apply filters and share photos they've taken on their smartphones. Maude, however, disagreed.
(Read more: How Facebook Can Finally Start Making Money Off Instagram)
"Facebook recognized that photo sharing was crucial - a huge percentage of posts on the website are photos - and also that an app like Instagram could pose a serious threat to its very existence," he said. "In hindsight the price looks like a bit of a bargain – Facebook saw off a significant treat."
CNET's Carey added that the acquisition helped Facebook relate to its troublesome younger audience, which loves to communicate through photo-sharing. In October last year, the company's CFO David Ebersman admitted there were concerns that Facebook was losing its "cool factor" with teens and that daily activity among younger teens has declined.
But Carey stressed that Facebook's latest offering – news-reading app Paper, launched at the end of January - demonstrated the company's willingness to offer separate products to cater to different audiences.
"(It means that) I feel like I'm left out and don't know what's going on unless I check Facebook, and now I want to check Paper if perhaps Facebook is getting too annoying," Carey added. "They're hitting different angles for different types of tastes."
May 18, 2012: Facebook holds its initial public offering