It took Facebook only 6 years to reach 500 000 million active users globally.
If Facebook was a country it would be the world third highest populated nation behind China and India and ahead of the USA*!
Those numbers are absolutely astronomical. I feel like qualifying Facebook of Fast and Furious. What is even more fascinating and/or frightening is that, it’s not only the reach of Facebook that is absolutely phenomenal, it is also the impact it has had on our web and social behaviors.
Some studies have started to highlight emerging trends created by Facebook and that are becoming key for advertisers:
– Firstly, time spent online: for the first time in January 2010 in Australia, Facebookers spent more time online (just above 8hrs/ week)** than non Facebookers. Their web consumption is also more advanced: for instance, they consume 99% more online video than non Facebookers**
– Also, Facebook fans tend to spend more on products from brand they like: On average, fans spend an additional US$71.84 on products for which they are fans compared to those who are not fans. ***
But this is only the tip of the iceberg… Let’s look at the direct impact of some Facebook features on usage of specific digital tools:
This one would be sketchy to quantify, but how many of us have decreased or stopped communicating with some of our friends via email and replaced it by Facebook mail? Are we not asking people we meet to become friends on Facebook rather than their phone numbers or email address?
Over the last year, windows live has lost 1.2 Million active users in Australia, that is a 24% drop**** … of course, this is not all due to users migrating to Facebook IM, but some of it can definitely be directly attributed to it. In 2008 IM rated amongst the biggest take up of young Facebook users.
If we focus on impact of the latest Facebook releases might have, the same story goes:
Only 71,000***** active users on Foursquare in Australia: this makes your Foursquare network potentially 99 times smaller than your Facebook one. Are we going to keep logging in into Foursquare, will recognition be enough? Probably not. In fact just by testing Facebook places, we are already moving away from Foursquare check ins. Looks like platforms like Foursquare will need to come up with something seriously compelling (exclusive promotion, shared tips, discounts), very quickly….
This is probably one of the most impactful developments that Facebook has launched lately. It now opens up opportunities for families, associations, business, etc… to use Facebook as a professional or semi professional network. A serious block to the growth of Google wave or the great Yammer…
By improving its photo component Facebook is clearly capitalizing on its core: 99% of its audience has uploaded at least one picture. The recent improvement to photos makes it easier to upload, tag and navigate; it also enables users to store high resolution shots. This surely will increase loyalty to the site and just like email, IM… get people to give up other photo sharing tools such as Flickr or Picassa.
I am not a Facebook developer but with a little imagination, we can go one step further and foresee some potential future expansions:
Why would Facebook not threaten Skype by launching VOIP services? Add voice and video to your Facebook connections, how cool would that be?
Why not add auctions to Market place and become the next eBay?
Why not push it even further with commercial geo localization by adding similar features as the emerging SCVNR or stickybits?
And above all, I would say that Facebook is also representing a serious threat to SEO and SEM. What makes me say that? That word of mouth from people we know is the most trusted source of information. Therefore, search results coming out of direct or indirect circle of peers might become more relevant than Google algorithm… We can already see this trend pointing with the trust level on search engines and portals at 50% and social networks at 43%*******
We (used to) say that Google is taking over the world; I bet that we are very soon going to see that common expression change!
So, how many “F words” to qualify Facebook? I’ve got four:
Fast and Furious, but also Fascinating and Frightening.
Do you have any other?
* Internet World stats 2010
**Nielsen, Netview March 2010