July 6, 2011, 2:31 PM

Facebook reaches 750 million active users

The social network launches products designed to keep consumers on the site longer.

Lead Photo

Facebook has 750 million active users, the social network’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today at the company’s California headquarters during a product release event; Facebook describes active users as consumers who have logged on to their account within the past 30 days. Facebook reached 500 million active users in July 2010 and 400 million in February 2010.

 And those Facebook users are sharing twice as much information—ranging from retailers they Like to where they are at a given moment—than they were a year ago. Calling that growth curve profound, Zuckerberg said that consumers will likely share twice as much information next year than they are currently sharing.

That prediction came during Facebook’s rollout of Skype-based video calling through the social networking platform. Consumers can use the service in more than 70 languages. Skype is an Internet telephone service that offers free computer-to-computer calls.

And today Facebook also launched a group text-based chat that allows several people to interact in a chat at once. The social network has redesigned its standard chat to list the users whom a consumer interacts with most often in an area on the side of the screen called a sidebar. The sidebar adjusts with the size of a user’s browser window and it automatically appears when the window becomes wide enough.

The announcements signal Facebook’s hopes of increasing the amount of information consumers share on the site, as well as boosting the amount of time consumers spend on the social network, said Zuckerberg.

“With 4 billion things already shared on Facebook every day, this partnership is another step for Facebook to solidify its position as a central platform for people to connect and communicate,” says Sean Corcoran, Forrester Research analyst. “It will also accelerate the use of a next generation form of communication in video chat by introducing it to hundreds of millions of people. In the short term this new partnership will have little impact on marketers, but in the long term will mean Facebook, already the number one place for online word-of-mouth, will be a crucial platform for marketers to engage customers whether it’s through video chat with fans or through new partnerships they form with Facebook on their own.”

Facebook’s announcements follows Google Inc.’s June launch of Google+, a social networking service that, like Facebook, enables consumers to post status updates, share photos and post links. Google+ also enables users to engage in video chats. However, Google + enables several consumers to interact in a group video chat at once, unlike Facebook, which allows only one-on-one chat.

But consumers use of Facebook remains impressive. In May the 157.2 million U.S. consumers who accessed Facebook looked at 103 billion pages and spent an average of 375 minutes on the site, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc. By comparison, consumers on Google sites, which includes YouTube, viewed 46.3 billion pages and spent 231 minutes on those sites.

The growth matters to online retailers because the more time consumers spend on Facebook the more display ads the social network can show consumers. Facebook accounts for nearly one in three online display ads on the web, according to a recent comScore report. Facebook has increasingly focused on online advertising, rolling out new ad formats such as Sponsored Stories, which lets companies place their logos alongside content from Facebook posts related to the advertiser. Consumers can click the ads, which appear in the right column of news feed pages in a box labeled Sponsored Story, to visit advertisers' Facebook pages.

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