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%

Magazines

Female: 44%
Male: 29%

Forums/Discussion Boards

Female: 24%
Male: 24%

Blogs

Female: 22%
Male: 19%

Newsletters

Female: 22%
Male: 14%

RSS Feeds (although this most likely represents blogs)

Female: 6%
Male: 10%

Other

Female: 2%
Male: 3%

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ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research firm focused on disruptive technology. A digital analyst, anthropologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture. Solis is also globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. His new book, What's the Future of Business (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold and flourish in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. Prior to End of Business, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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