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Global and Social: Facebook’s Rise Around the World

2 minute read | May 2012

Among the most visited websites around the world, Facebook had roughly 152 million unique U.S. visitors in March 2012— or, more than two out of three Americans who were active online visited Facebook. This rate is even less than in other markets, including Brazil, New Zealand and Italy, underscoring Facebook’s transcendence of borders around the world – and on the world wide web.

Since its founding in 2004, the social network has passed many milestones as it skyrocketed from a few million U.S. users to millions more around the world. Looking back at Nielsen data from over the last eight years, here are some of the key moments in Facebook’s story:

  • In January 2009 Facebook passed Myspace to become the top social network/blog site for the first time, a position it’s held in the U.S. ever since.
  • Between 2005 and 2009 Facebook doubled its traffic each year in the U.S., surpassing 10 million uniques for the first time in November 2006 (11.6M).
  • Facebook connected friends around the globe quickly: reaching 10 million unique UK visitors by April 2008. In 2009, the French, Spaniards and Germans followed suit, with 10 million visitors apiece in January, May and November, respectively.
  • As recently as August 2011, Facebook overtook Orkut as the top social networking site in Brazil; it has continued to grow its audience since then.

Facebook continues to grow around the world, with consumers in each market finding unique uses for social media sites. While Facebook is the top social network globally, many netizens visit multiple social media sites; in Japan blog sites are more popular in the social media category (Facebook is ranked 5th), and in Brazil sites like Tumblr and Google+ are growing quickly as well. Currently Facebook is the top Social Networking & Blogs site in eleven of the following 12 markets:

Global Visitors to Facebook in March 2012

(from Home/Work computers)

Global Market Unique Audience Active Reach
Brazil 38,138,000 76.7%
Italy 21,270,000 70.5%
Spain 15,628,000 67.0%
France 28,335,000 66.9%
United Kingdom 25,737,000 63.9%
Germany 24,508,000 54.6%
Japan 14,877,000 24.4%
Switzerland* 1,985,000 50.3%
New Zealand** 2,672,000 79.8%
Taiwan** 11,068,000 77.9%
United States** 152,763,000 69.6%
Australia** 11,010,000 68.4%
Read as: 38.1 million Brazilians visited Facebook during March 2012, about 76.7% of those who were active online that month from Home/Work computers in the market.

* Online measurement in Switzerland is from Home computers only.

** New Zealand, Taiwan, the U.S., and Australia use Hybrid measurement, which includes sources in addition to home/work computers.

Source: Nielsen

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