Facebook has garnered more than 500 million users in six-plus quick years. Google, which is twice as old as Facebook, has over 1 billion searchers but these folks come to its search engine for a quick information fix. Facebook, with all of its content sharing and communications tools, is sticky. In August 2010, Facebook surpassed Google in total minutes users spent on the Website. ComScore said that the U.S. Web users in August spent 41.1 million minutes on Facebook compared to 39.8 million minutes on all of Google’s Websites including YouTube, Gmail and other properties. The low barrier to entry and stickiness make Facebook a tantalizing proposition for social media advertisers. Facebook will soon partner with Skype for VOIP integration, which would boost its communications quotient. Worth a reported $33 billion on paper, Facebook’s IPO will be the next hottest meal ticket when it finally comes in the next few years.
The notion that Facebook would surpass its search portal giants in minutes spent online has seemed like a foregone conclusion for months given the social network’s meteoric rise in users and the rampant sharing of links, photos, video and other content on the Website. Facebook’s 500 million worldwide users spend on average of 20 minutes or more per day socializing with friends, family and even colleagues. Google is a fact-finding powerhouse for searchers wanting a quick fix. The search engine handles more than a billion searches a day from its one billion users, numbers that could soar with Google Instant ramping up the pace of search on Google.
The idea that Facebook would best a search engine built to serve users results and send them elsewhere seems logical.But the idea that Facebook is also beating out an incredibly sticky video site in YouTube, a massively popular Webmail app in Gmail, and several other Web services is impressive and points to Google’s dilemma. Engagement is now clearly skewed to social network sites like Facebook, not siloed Web services such as Google search and e-mail. Facebook’s rise requires a social network answer from Google. While a lot was being guessed about Google’s upcoming social offering, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has hinted that it will bring an organized social strategy to the center of the Google consumer experience. Even while search, Gmail, YouTube, Google News, Google Reader and other Web sites attract millions of users, the services are largely separate. Even Google Buzz is its own social conversation service built atop Gmail.
Facebook commands more attention and consumer time, and that puts them in a powerful position with marketers who want to reach those consumers
This isn’t a crisis for Google because they still have considerable engagement and terrific marketing offerings such as AdWords, but Google will want to leverage its strong brand and the 39.8M minutes people spend on Google properties each month to create what they have not yet created: A single, cohesive place to engage, share, play and learn. It is expected that Google Me would be instrumental in doing some bit of that for Google. But wont that be getting late in the day to make any serious impression on Facebook?