I found an unfamiliar email from Facebook in my inbox last month, "Somebody tagged you in the note 25 Random Things About Me." Clicking through, I found I’d been tagged by a friend in a mini-autobiography about her dream job (writing children’s books) and Kombucha infatuation. Turns out, I was not alone.
In January, roughly 4X more people than usual visited the Notes section of Facebook. Nobody knows how it started, but "25 Random Things" has been a viral boondoggle for Notes, bringing the equivalent of the entire population of New York City into a virtual game of tag within its walls.
The charts below show the popularity of Notes taking-off in terms of volume and reach into Facebook’s overall US visitors.
Nearly 20 million people in the US visited Notes in January, or 28% of all the visitors to Facebook in that month. That’s 4x more than the average month in 2008.
Compare that to Photos, the most popular section of Facebook, which consistently captures the attention 60% of Facebook visitors each month. Or Apps, the much discussed ecosystem of Gangster Wars, Sheep Throwing and Movie Favorites, which maintains a roughly 40% monthly share.
It will be interesting to see if "25 Random Things" is just a one-hitter for Notes, or if it will translate into sustained interest.
One trend that is likely to continue is overall Facebook growth. Over the past two years, Facebook has exploded from innovations like the App Platform, savvy strategy like indexing user profiles and beneficial network effects at play in "25 Random Things".
In December 2008, Facebook grew 21% – the largest single-month increase of unique visitors over the past two years. In January 2009, Facebook grew 15% – the fourth largest.
However, unique visitors are not necessarily the complete picture. The metric includes members who did not visit the site the month before, but previously created a profile.
To get a truer sense of growth, we looked at just new members, or those who created a profile. Facebook dramatically accelerated new member acquisition in January, with 60% more profiles created than in December.
Can Facebook continue this amazing growth?
At only half of Google’s visitors, there is room to grow. And with the traffic base and technology to spur viral trends like "25 Random Things," Facebook is positioned to invite everyone on the web to post their inter-connected life stories.