Facebook: The First Global Medium


Although Facebook's growth appears to be slowing in the United States (the site added a mere 320,800 new users in June, down from 7.8 million new users in May), the U.S. is only half the story. Or actually, significantly less than half the story. Indeed, one of the most interesting things about the site's explosive growth over the last few years has been how much of this expansion took place outside the U.S. This is in marked contrast to its predecessor and rival MySpace.

MySpace isn't totally unknown outside the U.S., of course. U.S. unique visitors dominated the initial MySpace boom, jumping from 32.5 million in December 2005 to about 75 million in June 2008, but the number of foreign users also increased substantially over the same period, from 15 million to 40 million. Thus the proportion of non-U.S. unique visitors increased from 31% to 35% over this period.

To begin with Facebook was even more U.S.-centric: in December 2005 virtually all its roughly 11 million users were in the U.S. By June 2007, however, a significant number of non-U.S. users had showed up, contributing about 17 million out of a monthly visitor base of 52 million, or about 33% of the total. And the proportion kept growing, until U.S. users were easily in the minority: by June 2008, there were roughly 35 million U.S. visitors versus roughly 95 million foreign visitors to the site, meaning non-U.S. visitors made up 70% of the traffic. By January of this year, the proportion was even more skewed, with 115 million U.S. visitors versus 335 million non-U.S., making up just 25% of the total monthly visitor base.


Facebook's global reach makes it a good candidate for the first truly global mass medium. Obviously print, radio, and television have blazed the broadcast trail, but how many truly global newspapers, magazines, or shows are there? Most newspapers with an international following usually appeal to a small segment of any given country's population, confined to the business or diplomatic elites. And while certain TV shows cross cultural boundaries well, they're not always popular at the same time (see the taste-defying popularity of "Baywatch" and "Hogan's Heroes" in Germany). Big TV events, like the World Cup and the Olympics, are transient, and anyway different country's national media tend to focus on different events. Some shows follow immigrant populations, like telenovelas in America, but these still don't attract much attention among the mainstream population.

4 comments about "Facebook: The First Global Medium".
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  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, July 9, 2010 at 7:48 p.m.

    Not all of the accounts are real. There are quite a few spam accounts used to post porn links of Business Fan Pages (See Doritos). The number of accounts is a very poor measurement. They give 200 million log ins per day of which 80mil are in the US (approx). So 2 of 3 US consumers are not on Facebook each day. And of the ones who log in...only 50% do something (comment, Like, update their status). And since many people do more than 1 action the reality is only 20-30mil or so are actually active on the site (meaning adding info etc) in the US. Nice number but not incredible.

    The Active User number of 450mil means each person watches 0.6 videos, uploads 4 photos, and Likes 2.5 fan pages...PER MONTH! Facebook recently scrubbed their stats page of this embarrassing lack of activity.

  2. Miguel Montoya from YconoArt Studio, July 9, 2010 at 9:58 p.m.

    450m or so with 75% of no "quality" members, why? I think it shows that right now a quarter of us find appeal or useful virtual socialization, for many more it really has no sense, at least now days. New generations could change the figures? possibly, but not dramatically, as usual.

  3. Steve Schildwachter from Enterprise CMO, LLC, July 9, 2010 at 11:12 p.m.

    Global media will add impetus for global brands. Here is a perspective from our global agency:

  4. Tonia Ries from Modern Media / The Realtime Report, July 12, 2010 at 9:31 a.m.

    What is the source for the statistics in the article and the chart?

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