Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

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%

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Plaxo, or Facebook

Get the new iPhone app

Read on your Kindle

Click the image below to buy the book/poster:

70 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Facebook’s Continued Rise to Pervasiveness”

  1. RogerJH says:


    Great article, thank you. I have commented on my own blog about Facebook's hegemony.

    One point I would add is that we need to start asking the question: is this good for social media? Is Facebook trying to establish a monopoly over social networking? Certainly some of their more questionable tactics would suggest so (see e.g., Techcrunch's article: Facebook’s Plan To Trounce Orkut In India May Be Working).

    I have taken a slightly tongue-in-cheek approach with articles such as Is Facebook the Microsoft of social media? anand Is Facebook the “evil” of social media? Nevertheless it behooves us to ensure that social networking does nonot become dominated by Facebook, for the same reasons we do not want a monopoly in any sphere of modern business enterprise.

    • briansolis says:

      Roger…interesting thoughts. Facebook may actually be the Apple of Social Media…if I have to make a comparison. It is so intently focused on defining a specific experience that it may actually limit it's appeal as more open and adaptive networks evolve and emerge. I'm still thinking about this…

  2. jacksonwightman says:

    While I realize that not everyone or every niche is on Facebook it is still staggering to me that firms willfully decide to not have a presence on this network. More shocking – and I know this from a recent conversation with a large Canadian firm who we are working with – is the fact that some companies don't even monitor conversations and chatter in the space.

    Simply put, grandma is on there, so are her friends from the knitting circle to say nothing of her grandkids and other kin. Facebook is now a family affair around the world.

    I think some of the other trends particularly re MySpace and Twitter are very interesting when juxtaposed with Facebook. While Twitter has, as you often suggest Brian, really changed the ways we connect and view connections I think that the nature of Facebook and the type of connections it fosters mean that it will always be more popular than Twitter. Not sure you'd ever see grandma's knitting circle hosting a tweetup.

    In the final analysis it appears that Facebook was the REAL NEWS in 2009. Whether Twitter becomes the MC Hammer pants of last yr remains to be seen. Thanks for the post.

  3. Arijit Das says:

    Facebook Always Wins in the Traffic!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the Newsletter

Sign up for the newsletter.

Stay Connected