Facebook’s Continued Rise to Pervasiveness

Source: Shutterstock (edited)

As the flame of 2009 flickered into the history books, Facebook celebrated its rise to 350 million users and certain dominance in the U.S. social networking market. However, in December, analysts questioned whether or not Facebook was losing its cool as time spent on the popular social network dropped three consecutive months among 18-24 year old users. Experts feared that the “family effect” was having a negative impact within this highly coveted demographic.

As I observed:

Facebook is beyond relevant, regardless of age group. Not only are we changing how we form relationships in the social web, how and where we’re engaging is also evolving. Do not underestimate the extent of mobile and other vertical platforms.

But amidst the controversy, Facebook’s preeminence comes into focus. Web analytics firm comScore reported that traffic to Facebook, for the first time in history, surpassed 100 million U.S. visitors in November 2009.  This is an elite milestone reached by select Web properties including Google Sites, Yahoo! Sites, and Microsoft Sites.

comScore’s media Metrix data also ranked Facebook as the fourth largest property, the highest position it has ever reached.

According to the data, Facebook accounts for 5.5% of all time spent online in the U.S., which is up from just 2.5% a year ago. As such, Facebook is at the center of attention – captivating a significant percentage of the average U.S. Internet user’s time online.

Facebook’s ascendancy is significant when compared to the month-over-month activity defining the state of MySpace and Twitter. Note that MySpace showed a slight decline while Twitter’s momentum appears to subside.

Source: Inside Facebook

As action speaks louder than words, not only is Facebook dominating in visits, Experian Hitwise published a report that documents its prevalence in search – placing “Facebook” as the number one search term.

This is the first year that the social networking Website has been the top search term overall, accounting for 0.67 percent of all searches. In fact, four variations of the term “facebook” were among the top 25 terms.

And, now there’s also data to suggest that Facebook is indeed relevant among college students. Anderson Analytics recently reported in its “American College Students Survey” that more than 25% of students surveyed rate Facebook as their favorite Website overall. As the survey documents, Facebook jumped nearly 12 points in just one year, placing it more than 20 points ahead of Google, which currently resides in second place.

Source: eMarketer

Anderson Analytics also surfaced important behavior that should serve as a roadmap to any social networking strategy and program. Among the most interesting revelations, nearly 60% of female and 44% of male college students learn about products on social networks. And, 80% of females and 76% of males reported that they obtain product information from Websites they regularly visit, which is ahead of friends and family.

Sources of Product Information

Regularly Visited Websites

Female: 80%
Male: 76%

Friends and Family

Female: 68%
Male: 48%

Social Networks

Female: 58%
Male: 44%

TV Commercials

Female: 54%
Male: 39%


Female: 44%
Male: 29%

Forums/Discussion Boards

Female: 24%
Male: 24%


Female: 22%
Male: 19%


Female: 22%
Male: 14%

RSS Feeds (although this most likely represents blogs)

Female: 6%
Male: 10%


Female: 2%
Male: 3%

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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. More so, he humanizes technology’s causal effect to help people see people differently and understand what to do about it. He is an award-winning author and avid keynote speaker who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation and innovation.

Brian has authored several best-selling books including What’s the Future of Business (WTF), Engage! and The End of Business as Usual. His blog, BrianSolis.com, is ranked as a leading resource for insights into the future of business, new technology and marketing.

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