Facebook has clearly tapped the Internet Café culture in developing countries and has created a global and socially flattened marketplace. Quite an accomplishment.
And app developers, brands and marketers should take notice of the game changing growth of Facebook’s penetration of the developing world. There is an intersection of global and social on this platform that creates an easily accessible global market for ideas and brands. Maybe for the first time.
Back in December, just after Facebook’s announcement of the 250M user number, I blogged on the top 10 Facebook countries by user numbers and the part that having the app in the browser made to a global user base. The discrepancy between users and computer penetration per capita led me to conclude that the cloud based app allowed the Internet Café culture of developing countries to explosively adopt the platform.
I reran these numbers some 90 days later to see if this was a blip or a real trend. Thanks to Gary Klein, product maven and product lead at Vpype, a social video company I work with, for collaborating on this.
The results are astounding.
Let’s look at the facts over this very short period of time.
-Turkey, #3, is growing at 128% annually and will overtake the UK at #2 within 6 months.
-Indonesia, formerly #7 is now in the #4 spot and growing at a rate of 187%. It is larger than France, Canada and Italy.
-The Philippines, formerly at the bottom in 10th place is now #8, passing Spain and Australia, growing at an annual rate of 152%.
Growth of Facebook is occurring in spite of the lack of computer penetration. It’s happening at Internet Cafés and on phones and spurred by the need for social networking and the efficiency of the Facebook cloud-based app.
You can look at these numbers as the democratization of global markets. Or as the flattening of the world culturally where time and space get pushed aside to empower ‘friendship’ across geographies and languages.
From my perspective, two items jump out.
First that Facebook just gets and maybe defined the online social framework. Free storage and sharing of photos and videos and friend’s list is as pertinent to a family in NY with kids in Wisconsin as it is to a young entrepreneur in Istanbul with family in Ankara. Social frameworks work and if there is any doubt that Facebook will become the major advertising channel for both global and local brands, it is now gone. It is more targeted and more efficient than networks or cable. If you were Nike or Armani Exchange, where would you advertise?
And second, for app developers and marketers, this makes global markets an essential part of product and market discovery strategy. The cost of global marketing and customer discovery is for the most part, gone. Facebook has both proven that the social fabric is global and provided marketing and distribution access to it as well. The barriers to these markets are really ameliorated.
My sense is that Facebook and this easy access to global markets will spread as computer hardware becomes cheaper and more available. But numbers don’t lie. Whether you are Zynga with Farmville, or Pepsi, or an herbal supplement company in Colorado or a video blogger…the world is now accessible. To anyone. And in real time.
And we have Facebook to thank for this.