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Summary:

[qi:080] Facebook, which recently surpassed 175 million active users, has benefited from its growth in the overseas markets. There’s no denying that the company is growing at a breakneck speed across the planet. Yesterday, I met Ghassan Haddad, Facebook’s director of localization, and he shared some […]

[qi:080] Facebook, which recently surpassed 175 million active users, has benefited from its growth in the overseas markets. There’s no denying that the company is growing at a breakneck speed across the planet. Yesterday, I met Ghassan Haddad, Facebook’s director of localization, and he shared some data that made me realize just how quickly Facebook has become global. 

Haddad reminded me that the company embarked on international expansion and asked Facebook community to help translate the service into their languages. Many stepped forward and translated the core of Facebook UI elements into their specific languages such as Spanish and recently announced Hebrew and Arabic. Here are some interesting facts:

  • 40 percent of Facebook users are not using English.
  • More than 70 percent of Facebook users are outside the United States.
  • It reaches more than 10 percent of the total national population in 26 countries.
  • Facebook is available in 43 languages and is in the process of being translated into another 60 languages.
  • Since offering an Italian-language version of the service about a year ago, the number of users has grown from 350,000 to about 8 million.
  • 25,000 volunteers helped translate Facebook into Turkish last year, and there are now 9 million Turkish-language users signed up for Facebook.
  • Facebook is working on five Indian languages, including Tamil, Punjabi and Hindi.

But even with so much international growth, can Facebook monetize the traffic well enough?

By Om Malik

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  1. Dear Om, you showed some good data about facebook. Why the question at the end of the post. Rather why don’t you offer advices to monetize Facebook. That would be good. Almost all the tech blogs I read they talk the same but none offer any suggestions to Facebook. That’s unfair.

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    1. @shams

      I am not my job telling a $4-billion a year company how to monetize their audience. IT is THEIR job to figure this out. Seriously to ask me to do that is “unfair.”

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  2. Facebook is an example how Internationalization can play a significant role in the success of a product.

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  3. I only wished I liked Facebook as much as many of my friends. I don’t, so I log in every few weeks at most. They won’t be monetizing me very well.

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  4. Dear Shams,

    Facebook is making a run at rapidly spreading its service while other services like Myspace are focusing on monetization. Facebook is grabbing headlines for its growth, and very few bloggers are actually question this strategy. I find it refreshing that Om doesn’t just regurgitate press releases that favor Facebook like the rest of them. The question is poignant: congratulations on your growth, but is it really the right strategy?

    It’s just Om’s job to solve Facebook’s business problems. He’s a journalist (especially compared to other tech bloggers out there).

    Anon

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  5. *It’s NOT Om’s job…

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  6. Google already left orkut it seems.

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  7. Monetizing the traffic is easy. Everyone loves bopping the gopher on the head, who can resist those ads!

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  8. A 4 billion a year company…who is that Facebook??? They wish they could make that much, let alone half a billion a year. Om, let’s ask a very simple, I mean dead simple question which no blogger touches; With a $500 million cash investment (almost unheard of for a private company) who in God’s name could not get 175 million users to join a free service.

    Facebook is paying roughly 3 USD to acquire a user. Is this a startup? Is this innovation, or word of mouth growth? Google…25 million total VC investment, went public, makes tons of cash, truly innovative, and a real success story.

    Blooggers are not really looking at Facebook in the right way. That much money behind them, they can’t fail, yet it is amazing that they are still struggling to make a buck. People need to understand that PR campaigns, below the line promotions, and media endorsements have driven facebook’s growth, at a hefty price tag. This is no start up folks, but a well-calculated, HEAVILY FUNDED, mega experiment of American domination.

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    1. @marcus

      that is their implied valuation. sorry i should not have said $4 billion a year company. that is my bad.

      by the way they have about $400 million in revenues.

      also on your question about correlation between money raised and the number of users, there are many examples to the contrary. a lot of companies which raised a lot of money failed to get a large number of users. one couldn’t really make a scientific conclusion :-)

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  9. Despite these stats their now Oodle marketplace is only for US users… What a waste

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  10. Try to solve larger issues, have a better purpose, create value beyond entertainment and communication.

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  11. People need to stop comparing facebook to Google, but instead to Amazon, whose business plan called for growth-first, revenue-second.

    By cornering the global social networking market, facebook is positioning itself to be the center of an individual’s web identity. As the web becomes more democratized and social (i.e. facebook Connect), this identity will prove pivotal for serving relevant targeting marketing campaigns to users, not just on facebook, but where ever they traverse on the web.

    So, in essence, critics who call for facebook to profit immediately, this instant (!), do not understand the history of the web and/or are incompetent in understanding the foresight of the social networking marketplace. Go back to typing on typewriters old fogies.

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  12. “PR campaigns, below the line promotions, and media endorsements have driven facebook’s growth”

    I would like to hear more about this. Maybe a expose.

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  13. Hi Om,

    These statistics are very interesting. I am writing a piece about Facebook growth in the Czech Republic and I am looking for similar statistics. I want to know how the introduction of the Czech language option affected membership. Can you help?

    I would very much appreciate any help.

    Thanks,
    Christina

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  14. The rise of Facebook may never be solely attributed to a single element of success. The onset of social networking media like Myspace, Friendster, Hi5, Tagged, Multiply, Twitter and others have each added to the myriad of online strategies to expand the growth of businesses through social networks.

    Given this, Facebook need to sustain its lead; otherwise, its fad may well be replaced overnight by a cooler, smarter and more innovative service. Who knows, Google might end up buying Facebook at a cheaper deal when that happens.

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  15. Many of the peoples are very crazy on face book and wasting their time.

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  16. The Face Book is wasting time for most of the people

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  17. Face book is useful for marketing

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