If you think of Facebook as the most popular social network in the world, you're not thinking big enough. Check out this rather impressive infographic on Facebook (courtesy Online Schools) and it becomes apparent that for an increasing populace, Facebook represents their primary Internet experience. Here are a few statistics to consider -
Over 500 million Facebook users and growing.
50% of them are logged in on any given day.
71.2% of all Internet users in US has a Facebook account
Approx. 70% of Facebook users are outside the US
48% of young Americans get their news from Facebook
On top of that, bear in mind that Facebook leads all other web destinations in hits and more importantly, time spent online. The trendline on both favor Facebook.
Here's what it means in practice, even though, we're not quite there yet:
Soon, a growing population of Internet users will spend more time on Facebook than on the "rest of the the Web". Think of the four basic functions, the typical Internet user engages in today:
- Social content sharing/consuming (Primary players: Google, Twitter)
- Email/Messaging (Primary players: Google, various)
- Search (Primary players: Google)
- Purchasing/Transacting (Primary players: Amazon)
Not satisfied with being the dominant social content site on the planet, the introduction of a new Facebook Messages (w. @facebook.com email) in November 2010 means that Facebook is making a play to dominate the email/messaging arena as well. While the verdict is still out on the new Facebook email/messaging, don't count it out. Given time, it isn't hard to imagine that 500 million users might consider an email/messaging system, linked to their social community and relatively free annoyances like spam, to be quite appealing.
The point is that Facebook is already halfway to encompassing the total Internet experience for their huge and growing user base. If I'm right about this, you can expect Facebook to drive search and commercial transactions through their platform. When this occurs, Facebook users will not only share content and message each other, they will also transact over Facebook. As far as they will be concerned, Facebook = Internet. This isn't just random speculation. On the contrary, if growth rates for Facebook continue at their torrid pace, it may actually be inevitable.
The only question that remains is this: If Facebook represents the new, emerging Internet, what does that mean to you and your business?