Growing at a rate that is almost unimaginable, Facebookwill announce that it has hit the 500 million member milestone later this week, yet another reminder of the enormous potential the social networking site holds for you retailers and merchants out there who have yet to integrate it into your strategy.
Just for a little perspective, Facebook’s network of users now exceeds the population of the United States, Japan and Germany—combined.
Facebook sits on the cusp of the half-billion member mark after surpassing the 400 million user plateau in February of this year and 300 million users in September of 2009. At that rate, the site is adding roughly 200 million new users every year. Though that ratio is bound to slow down at some point, Facebook still represents one of, if not the, largest audiences on the web.
To celebrate the accomplishment, Facebook is encouraging users to submit to “Facebook Stories” a compilation of personal user blurbs detailing how the site has impacted their lives. Submissions should be no longer than 420 characters but can span any relevant topic, from finding love to coping with a major event. Facebook will organize and showcase the best entries and users will have the ability to use the site’s Like buttons to determine which ones they enjoy the most.
“As we anticipated our 500-million milestone, and we wanted to find a different way to announce and celebrate it,” said Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook’s marketing director. “In the past, it’s been all about the numbers and milestones, and we realized we had never taken the opportunity to celebrate users.”
Facebook’s latest user milestone comes on the heels of a somewhat tumultuous spring and summer for the site, particularly with regard to the user concerns that have arisen as a result of Facebook’s controversial privacy changes.
However, the announcement also coincides with a rapid increase in the number of Facebook and social networking e-commerce tools and applications flooding the market in recent months. And that’s what we’re going to focus on as Facebook hits this big mark.
In the coming weeks, we’re going to step up our coverage of the methods retailers and e-commerce companies are employing to get the most of out social networking and Facebook, in particular. If you have an application or tool that you think deserves to be highlighted, let us know and maybe we’ll do a post on it.
In the meantime, help us with our own version of “Facebook Stories” by leaving us comments and anecdotes on how you’ve successfully integrated social networking into your retail-ecommerce plans over the last few years. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or whatever, we want to hear from you!