Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Facebook Phenomenon

Over 24 million active users on Facebook. More than 100,000 new users joining each day. Growth of 3% per week. Doubling every 6 weeks.

Who are these people? Ages 25 and up are the largest demographic group joining. Ten percent of the population of Canada has already joined. I guess this means Facebook is no longer just a college phenomenon. Soon over 75% will be people out of college.

Over 50% of users return every day. Nobody else in the online community world comes even close. I only started last week, and can attest personally that the experience, although admittedly somewhat impoverished graphically, is incredibly addictive. Facebook has recently passed over eBay and is setting its sights on Google for the most user traffic daily.

The way it intends to do so is with applications, photos being the most obvious. Photo viewing on Facebook has more users than any other photo sharing site on the Internet.

Events are another. As we all know, people share information and interests and tend to go to events based on their friends' recommendations. If I have a relationship with someone, I will be far more likely to attend an event if that person plans on doing so, than if I merely discover that event in the newspaper or on television or some other media.

Applications are key. But what makes the Facebook phenomenon phenomenal is the ease with which connections between friends and friends of friends occurs. Instead of sending an email to a friend or acquaintance about what I'm reading or an event I plan to attend or a copy of a photo of my family, I merely add that information to my Facebook site and immediately all my friends can see.

Even the Status application is something like the stand-alone Twitter social networking tool ... only better. Instead of updating an application, I merely update my status on Facebook and friends around the world know what I'm doing or how I'm feeling. Phenomenal!

It is the recent opening up of the Facebook platform that assures its continued success. That openness is key, as my friend Shel Israel has blogged about recently. Microsoft knows all about how important the developer community is to the success of the whole range of its products, not to mention the mind space devoted to its platforms. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Microsoft is partnering with Facebook.

Count in Amazon as well. One the recent applications I've just added to my Facebook site is Books, a place where I can review and recommend books. With this little gem, I can find all the other people in my network who have read the same book, start up a discussion group, or simply chat about the book's contents.

Facebook is changing how I use the Internet. It is certainly changing how I communicate with and relate to my friends and acquaintances.

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