Features

Facebook Is the Internet?

Written on
Apr 21, 2010 
Author
Michael Flanagan  |

faceworld_smallADOTAS – I was on a webinar recently where the presenters were discussing the growth and expansion of Facebook. One of the presenters said that some people see Facebook as all-encompassing and that its potential knows no boundaries. To put it broadly, “Facebook is the Internet.”

When taken at face value, that statement is clearly an exaggeration. However, when you start to dig a little deeper, you’ll see that the statement may not be as far off as we might think.

Facebook wears many hats. It’s a place where you connect with others. Engage with businesses of interest. Find great deals on your favorite brands. Needless to say, the list is endless.

So is it surprising that Facebook is predicted to surpass Google in share of unique visitors sometime in 2010? Given the latest growth data, not so much. Let’s take a look at how Facebook got to where they are.

According to Compete.com, in February of 2009, Facebook had nearly 74 million unique visitors. At that time, Yahoo had 124 million unique visitors and Google had 130 million unique visitors.

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Fast forward 12 months and Facebook is now in second place with nearly 128 unique visitors, and Yahoo is trailing closely with 125 unique visitors. Also, Google is still at the top with 141 million unique visitors. In terms of growth over this span of time, Facebook has grown 73% year over year, Yahoo — less than one percent and Google — 8%.

Although this data seems irrefutable, it is worth mentioning that the methodology for how this data was accrued differs from how other sources like Nielsen, comScore or Hitwise collect this data. Basically, take this with a grain of salt.

However, the one thing that all sources agree on is the incredible growth that Facebook is experiencing, and it’s still a safe assumption that this growth will continue for at least the rest of 2010.

In terms of user engagement, there is no debate that Facebook is the leader. According to Compete data, in January 2010, 11.6% of time spent on the entire Web was centered on Facebook. Yahoo took in 4.25% of all user engagement, and Google trailed slightly at 4.1%. Again, we see significant growth in this area, as last year Yahoo was the leader in user engagement with 5%.

This is all great data, but people want to know when the takedown of Google will be. Well, for starters, it won’t really be a takedown. It will most likely happen silently in the night. And even though Facebook may soon jump ahead of Google in unique visitors, there’s no denying that Google will still be king of search and still a pack leader in most respects.

But the signs of a takeover are already showing. It started on December 24th of 2009. According to Experian Hitwise, on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, Facebook was the most visited website in the US. Although this was short lived, Facebook again jumped into the first spot during a couple days in March 2010. With the continued growth, this leap to the top spot will be seen over and over again.

In the chart above, Bing still has a long way to go if they want to get the number of unique visitors that Google or Facebook have. However, don’t assume that they’re passively sitting by, accepting their fourth place ranking.

Bing made a smart move recently, by hitching their wagon to Facebook. Now when anyone does a search on Facebook, the results are powered by Bing. It may take a while to see some real traction from this, as Facebook still lacks in searches what the big search engines have. But, as with all other areas of Facebook, even the searches performed within this site have increased 10% over the last year, according to comScore.

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The Social Space

With all of this attention on Facebook, other social sites may be thinking, “What about me?” In terms of growth, social sites like Twitter and Foursquare are reaching some big milestones. However, when comparing the market share within the social space, no one can compete with what Facebook is experiencing right now.

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The one thing in this chart that’s hard to ignore is the short period of time it took for Facebook to seize the top spot from MySpace. The million dollar question remains: will Facebook go out the same way, or will it transcend even the social realm? Only time will tell. But at this point, it would take some drastic steps to sabotage what continues to work for them.

The writing is on the wall. Facebook is big, and it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon. Maybe someday we’ll be going to Facebook for all our needs and the “Internet” will just be another term like “word processer” or “floppy disks.”





Michael Flanagan is CEO of 15miles, a full-service marketing agency specializing in digital and offline media. Headquartered in New York, 15miles is the world’s largest local-search agency with more than 40 years of industry experience to support its offline, online and mobile solutions for businesses of all sizes, including Fortune 500 companies. As CEO, Flanagan oversees 15miles’ profitability, operational-efficiency and senior-management teams. He works with these teams to establish performance goals and priorities among departments, delegating responsibilities to keep the entire company on track, on time and on budget. His knowledge of the marketing industry is applied to successfully developing strategic relationships outside the company, guaranteeing the proper networks are in place to meet 15miles’ objectives.

Reader Comments.

good article. you mention a chart, but I don’t see a chart here. I’d love to see the chart you reference.

Posted by kevin | 2:33 pm on April 21, 2010.

Whoops! My bad — charts are in now.

Posted by Gavin Dunaway | 3:51 pm on April 21, 2010.

See, I’m not on Facebook. But i have been on the internet for the last 15 years. Being a facebook user these days is the digital version of being micro chipped and tracked everywhere you go. Screw that, I can traverse the internet just fine without mugshot book.

Posted by Ned | 8:35 pm on April 21, 2010.

Facebook is not comparable with Google. Facebook is a destination people go to, Google is a search engine you use to find destinations. Of course people will spend less time on Google than Facebook – if it took 45 min to find a site in Google no one would use it.
This sort of talk is typical of myopic, yet shallow, people who have no sense of perspective and think the way things are in their corner of the world applies to the whole universe.

Posted by Brandt Dainow | 5:27 am on May 12, 2010.

Facebook: The ultimate dumbing-down of the internet.

Posted by Fred | 1:06 pm on April 7, 2012.

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