Is Facebook the New Google?

By Betsy Carpenter, Coordinator, Marketing & Strategic Partnerships

Be honest - which do you spend more time on in your day: Searching for answers on Google or hanging out on Facebook? For most the answer is still Google, with the possible exception of high schoolers & college students skipping class. However, according to many recent studies, Facebook & other social media sites are moving leaps and bounds above other forms of online media, in some cases, even search.

According to the recent Nielsen Social Networking’s New Global Footprint report, in 2008 "Member Communities" jumped above the email category in internet popularity, by accounting for 10% of all internet time (measured by time on site). This may seem like a logical transition seeing how many social sites now have their own messaging systems in place. Facebook has several between wall posts, messages, and facebook chat - while Twitter is all about conversation.

Social sites' bragging rights don't stop there though. In the same Nielsen report Facebook growth rates towered over other popular online activities. This goes beyond my earlier "This Week in Search" blurb on the continuous double growth rates of Facebook users. According to the same Nielsen report, the Internet Popularity growth rate for "Member Communities" from 2007 to 2008 rose 5.4%. This is more than double the popularity growth rate of any of the other top 5 popular online media sectors, yes, even search.

The Facebook rise still doesn't stop there. According to Hitwise, Facebook has become a greater source of online traffic than Google for some larger internet sites such as, Dlisted, Twitter & Evite.

Facebook has also become a great source of traffic for video sites. According to Hitwise, traffic from Facebook accounted for 3.3% of visits to video sites in February 2009, up from less than 2% in February 2008.

With the growing stats supporting the rise of Facebook, should Google be running scared? Maybe not just yet, but who knows what the future may bring. Facebook currently provides emailing, messaging, video & content sharing, socializing, gaming, widgets & much more. Will it be too long before Facebook has a successful web search platform as well? Who knows - one thing is for sure, with the time people are spending "hanging" out on Facebook, advertising dollars are sure to rise and that is something marketers (poke, poke) should be ready for.


CJeffCampbell said...

I don't think Google & Facebook are competitors. Facebook is a destination, Google is a connector between people's wants (queries) and relevant destinations. If anything, Google should work to make more of the public content in social media sites (YouTube, LinkedIn, FB, Twitter) more indexed with higher rankings in their SERPs. Watch for Google competitors to take advance of this aperature in Google's search algo/results.

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