Will the Great Depressed Push Facebook Higher?


facebook-daily-visitsHitwise, a data analytics and research company, today released a report that indicated a big spike in Facebook traffic on Christmas Eve. The research firm says that Facebook hit a new high, with traffic “reaching 2.18% of all U.S. Internet visits compared with 1.42% average for November.”

That’s up 54 percent from November 2008 and 53 percent from December 24, 2007, when it set its last new record. The Santa bump put Facebook fifth among all web sites. In the UK, social networking sites and YouTube accounted for 10 percent of total Internet traffic. There could be many reasons for the bump, such as people using social networks to send personal messages instead of sending emails (I got far fewer emails this year that in the past) and sharing photographs via Facebook, for example. Of course, with fewer gifts (and toys), people might have just spent an inordinate amount of time on Facebook. However, let’s not forget — there was terrible weather around the country and people didn’t have anywhere to go, except to hit the computer.

According to Hitwise Demographics, the top cities (based on DMA or Designated Marketed Areas ) on Facebook are New York, Chicago, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia. These cities were all hard hit by the snow storms last week and the poor weather may have kept people inside with little else to do but send holiday greetings to friends.

This last bit actually could indicate a long-term trend, as we the people might go through 2009 (which is already shaping up to be on miserable year) as the great depressed. 

If you remember, the last downturn (2001) helped Google (s GOOG) establish its contextual advertising business, which is now like a Middle Eastern oil gusher that keeps spewing cash. It was able to do so because everyone wanted to focus their ad dollars online in a specific sort of a way.  

From that perspective, Facebook (or any other social network) could have a lot of our attention, because, well, we don’t have that much to do offline. With far fewer dollars to fritter away on offline socializing (or shopping), there is a good chance we would spend a lot of time in front of the computer, socializing online. Is it too far-fetched to think that this downturn might actually play to Facebook’s advantage?



I see a lot of questions being whipped out for a quickie post with buzzwords. Where’s the actual insight and analysis? This reads like People magazine gushing over what dress Facebook is going to wear to the Oscars.

Jason Nazar

yes but that also means less parties at which people take ridiculous amount of photos of themselves and show them off to the world the next day

not sure I’m drinking the cool-aid on this theory, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough

coupon center

I am not surprise! For the next year or so, you will see an augmentation of traffic for socializing site… People with less money to spent on activities of some sort will stay home because internet is a very cheap activity if you stay away from the shopping site.

Jay Gould

What about the iPhone commercials pushing ‘facebook’ in the commercial? Perhaps the iPhone app has been driving some more awareness too


Facebook is going to keep the traffic. The real question is how is it going to monetize the traffic ?

Google spews cash because it can monetize searches very well. What is Facebook going to do ?

Jeffrey McManus

The weather is probably a good explanation for at least part of the spike — people forget that for international web sites with millions of users, a few warm days in Germany in August can really hose your quarter.


Hey, the holidays are all about sharing. So, you would expect sites that allow users to share with each other would be more active. I used http://www.tabup.com to exchange stuff with family, friends and community over the holidays. I can see how Facebook would get a spike. Travel is down, Weather was bad … all good for staying connected on the internet.

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