The Facebook Phenomena

I have to say that it is unprecedented in our house. My wife goes dozily gets there even before she’s cracked open Gmail. It sounds like she’s not alone if new figures on the use of Facebook are anything to go by.

More than 31 million active users, and the number is going up by 100K users per day. It’s incredible to see the viral growth of social networking sites in today’s connected world. Notably it’s also one of the most popular photo-sharing apps on the web today. What does that mean for Flickr? That also makes me wonder what’s Facebook’s shelf-life? I’d give it until the next internet phenomena appears, which these days is about as long as it takes to get ranked by Google (for the non-Googlelizers that’s less than a year).

You can find all the figures via Marketing Vox  although interestingly enough there’s nothing about whether Facebook has dented Myspace’s popularity since its advent in September 2006. I’d kind of expect it to, given that the core internet users that make up the traffic on these sites don’t have infinite amount of time, even though it often seems that way. By spending 20 minutes a day scouring Facebook walls is surely usurping the time that had been spent vanity-posting on Myspace.

So what does Facebook have that the other big players don’t? For me one of the interesting facets that makes Facebook different to almost every other social networking site is that it doesn’t integrate well with search. Whereas Myspace, Flickr, Wikipedia and to a limited extent LinkedIn have all relied on the major search engines (read Google) for a spot in the limelight and the reams of traffic that follows, Facebook is a walled garden whose login system helps keep things private. And that seems to be the key. It’s more networking than publishing. I’d venture to say that it could be the replacement we didn’t know we needed for personal emailing. Attractive because as yet there isn’t much junk. That and the countless applications that exist on top of the Facebook platform.

It’s also done away with camel-case – note it’s not FaceBook but Facebook. A new era?

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