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Call it a shift in Web behavior, but the way people make decisions in the real world is finally moving to the Internet in a big way. The point Mike Swift in his article entitled Facebook's growth in U.S. slows, as overseas growth ramps up is trying to elucidate is that customarily social platforms such as online communities, social networks, and loosely connected personal spaces online have periods of immense growth, a plateau, and then a slow, painful decline. That is why Facebook's growth in U.S. only is slowed down with almost 146 million users. It appears hard for a social platform to avoid this evolution. This poses a difficult challenge for Facebook and marketers all around the world too. Knowing which social platform is going to have explosive growth next and where customers will spend their time is not always easy.
As Mike Swift speculated that the reason for Facebook's insta-popularity in these countries, more so than in the United States, came from the fact that citizens in Canada and the U.K. (and, randomly, Norway, and other countries) didn't have the same preconception that U.S. citizens had: that Facebook was only meant for students - as people in the United States had heard the buzz about Facebook for two years when it was only for students. This stigma used to be a significant hurdle for Facebook's growth in older U.S. demographics.
Despite any changing patterns of community engagement occurring in particular countries mentioned by Mike Swift, new forms of belonging are emerging with the widespread trend for people to engage in online communities. These communities differ in many respects, but they share a reliance on user-generated content and rapid growth in participants. Like many other websites of its kind, Facebook is designed to facilitate 'social networking' - communication and exchange between people in the form of text, image or video. It is accessed by millions of people everyday, and the figure below shows that this site alone has grown in only six years to involve as many as 600 millionth users worldwide.
Facebook is like email on steroids. It's a very powerful tool because people are largely visual creatures. So Facebook adds in the elements of photos, along with being able to send messages. People being social animals and also feeding disempowered many times in these movements are less prone to support things if they think they're going to put in the effort and still the government's not going to listen.
Mike Swift was unable to quote historical facts in his article. In some cases, those early social networks and online communities were extremely successful too. For example, back in the mid 1990s, the Well was considered the most influential online community. It wasn't the largest, but it was the most influential. GeoCities, which rose to face in the late 1990s and was bought by Yahoo! for a whopping $3.57 billion at its peak, boasted millions of active accounts. Friendster, which was the darling of the social networking world in 2003 and 2004, fizzled when its technical infrastructure and lack of new features pushed people in America away from it. And when in the last two years, users have moved away from MySpace, which was the largest social network in the country, to Facebook, in what appears to be an unstoppable and extremely worrying trend for MySpace.
As a result, it wasn't until the fall of 2006 (when Facebook opened to everyone) that Facebook started making a showing in any other country. When Facebook finally ventured into Canada and the United Kingdom, it took off fast, like Vin Diesel fast.
Facebook is largely supported by advertisements, and this is a fact too. Since November 2007, Facebook used a targeted ad program like Beacon. Beacon analyses user behavior and targets relevant ads to user and their friends. This so-called behavioural targeting is suppsed to increase ad relevancy and enhance advertiser returns. As the launch of the program resulted in strong controversy due to privacy concerns, users can not give something a miss of Beacon. Apart from advertisements, Facebook also encourages developers to sell products and services via their applications, which generates additional revenue for Facebook in the form of commissions.
Undoubtedly Facebook became the undisputed market leader in the industry. Besides the hard facts such Facebook's open platform strategy, there is a general look and feel, the great usability and the enjoyable atmosphere that attract millions of users every day. However, the millions of users within the United States are very accustomed to such types of services in the past, that is why the ratio of Facebook users is slowed down only in America.
But when seeing Facebook snowballing and at first 10 friends are coming, then 100s of friends, and then thousands of people are coming to these things - and they can watch it climb on a Facebook Events page - then it's more empowering and they feel like there's a chance to turn things around. So Facebook has certainly played a role in this recent upsurge as well, but it's not the only thing going on.