Betting that the social networking space is "a land grab where we have to get to scale first," Facebook continues to aggressively market and attract new users, hoping to become a vital portal that hundreds of millions of users around the world visit at least once a day. By its fifth anniversary on Feb. 4, 2009, it had 161 million users, adding more than 100 million users in one year.
Facebook has zoomed past MySpace, which has shown steady growth, standing at 118 million. But cowed by the recession, a dearth of new investors and new advertisers, MySpace is focusing on monetization and profitability over rapid growth, Business Week reports.
In contrast, Facebook's investors aren't yet ready to put the breaks on rapid growth. The social networking site is growing by 600,000 users per day, compared to 300,000 per day just 12 months earlier, and projected to hit 200 million users by spring, 2009. In the U.S. alone, Facebook has about 40 million users, and is the sixth most trafficked site in the U.S. Facebook is on target to connect with well over half the approximately 90 million U.S. Internet users in 2009.
in 2004, Facebook was just the germ of an idea on the computer of a student at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg. Now 24-years-old and worth (on paper) an estimated $1.5 billion, Zuckerberg blogs about the ways the Internet has changed over the last five years, pointing out that Facebook has "offered a safe and trusted environment" for people to reveal more of their true identities than they did before it existed.
B J Fogg, a professor at Stanford University, teaches a course called the "Psychology of Facebook." "Facebook has changed how people view the world," he tells Redorbit.com. "Today, a friend from any country is just a few clicks away. It brings the world together as one trusted place."
Stereotypically, women care more about maintaining and nurturing relationships than men do. That plays out on Facebook:
- Facebook is growing faster with women than men in almost every age group. Women comprise 56.2% of Facebook’s audience, up from 54.3% late last year.
Stereotypically, social networking is mainly for high school and college kids. Not any more. About 45% of Facebook’s US audience by the end of 2008 was 26 years old or older. Half are adults outside of college. Remarkably, the fastest growing demographic for Facebook is women over 55, up 175.3% between October, 2008 and January, 2009.
Of the 160+ million Facebook users, about 10 percent update their status daily. As more users become familiar with the site, more will probably update their status frequently and share more content -- notes, links to news articles and videos.
The average Facebook user as of February 2009 had 120 friends -- that number increased by 20 percent in one month. But how many of these "friends" are anything more than contacts? Anthropologists years ago calculated that the vast majority of people are unable to maintain active friendships with more than 150 people. Facebook is challenging that long-held assumption.
Certainly teachers over the years touch the lives of far more than 150 students; writers hope for far more than 150 readers; successful businessmen have far more than 150 customers. If we think of Facebook "friends" as people we've served or who have served us in some way, as well as those we've worked with or attended schools with, then clearly the networks of most of us are far larger than 150. But then the question becomes whether most of us can truly care about more than 150 people.
Never mind what the anthropologists say. Facebook is planning to end its 5,000 limit on friends, so hyper-networkers like future presidents (imagine if Bill Clinton had come along when Facebook existed) need no longer feel frustrated by Facebook's limitations. Eventually, you may have 10,000 or a 100,000 or a million "friends" in your network, and as Chris Matyszczyk points out, there will be a great temptation to monetize or market to those friends. Facebook could even define celebrity -- if you're well known enough to endorse products and make money off of Facebook, that's CELEBRITY.
- Facebook Changed My Life (BBC interviews with three Brits).
- About Face: Parents All Over Facebook, by Bella English, Boston Globe.
- Facebook's Downsides: Friend Envy, Dilemma of Unfriending, Divorce and Social Networking
- Inside Facebook blog for developers and marketers.
- Facebook's Blog
- New Interactive Advertising Turns Consumers into Partners