Facebook's great 2009 growth through its fifth year recalls that of Google, which took off and went public after its fifth year. ComScore found that Facebook more than doubled its U.S. audience from 54.5 million visitors in December 2008 to 111.9 million visitors in December 2009. The parallels are interesting but remember that Facebook is a social network and Google is a search engine, making them somewhat apples and oranges from a user experience perspective. People go to Google to search the Web. People go to Facebook to hang out with friends and even meet new people online.
Facebook more than doubled its U.S. audience from 54.5
million visitors in December 2008 to 111.9 million visitors in December 2009,
according to researcher comScore.
The success of the social network in its fifth year is the greatest
for a Web company since that of Google, which went public after its
fifth year and now earns nearly 2 billion a quarter in profit.
Facebook, which continues to add
new features geared to retain and grow its loyal audience past 350 million users, soaks up 7 percent of
all time spent online by users in the U.S.
ComScore also found that many of Facebook's core metrics
more than doubled. From December 2008 to December 2009, the site's unique
visitors grew 105 percent; its page views grew 151 percent and total time spent
grew 198 percent.
Other stats, such as average minutes per usage day and
average usage days per visitors grew more modestly, at 6 percent and 37
Facebook did see its the average minutes per visit drop
11 percent, to which comScore noted makes sense when one considers the
increasing frequency with which people are coming back to the social network. See
comScores' full stats in full here
ComScore Director of Industry Analysis Andrew Lipsman
said the great growth spurts validate Facebook Founder and CEO Mark
Zuckerberg's Law, in which the amount of information people share doubles ever
"In other words, once the network is in place and people
are active and engaged, the dynamics of the social interaction taking place
incentivize participants to share information about themselves more regularly,
which in turn solicits more engagement from others, creating a virtuous cycle
of interaction," Lipsman noted.
What is perhaps astounding about the growth is that
Facebook only opened registration to the masses a few years ago.
Zuckerberg launched the company from his Harvard University dorm room
in February 2004,
but it wasn't until the fall of 2006 that Facebook became available to
general public. Facebook is just shy of its sixth birthday (Feb. 4).
With that level set, the company's meteroric growth is
comparable to and in some ways better than that of Google, with whom it
is vying for
peoples' attention on the Web.
Google took off incredibly after its fifth birthday, and debuted on the
stock market in August 2004, almost six years after Google co-founders Larry
Page and Sergey Brin launched it from Stanford University.