Nielsen released some numbers today that highlight once again the still-rising influence of Facebook, undeniably the largest social networking site in the country.
In a nearly 10% growth month-over-month, Facebook users in the United States now average seven hours on the site per month.For perspective, the next-most used sites on Nielsen's list, Yahoo! and Google, only see users spending a little over two hours, on average, on their sites. In fact, Facebook proved to be the only company to see positive month-over-month growth in that particular area. These drops can probably be explained away with the holiday season, since everybody's back to work and not shopping as much. But still, Facebook was unaffected.
Besides showing off the longest usage times, Facebook appears to be closing in on the three mega Internet behemoths crowning the list, which Nielsen organized by site with largest unique audience. Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft are home to 162.1 million, 136 million, and 121.4 million unique users per month, respectively. Meanwhile, Facebook which saw almost 6% growth month-over-month, has swelled to 116.3 million unique visitors a month. The day it overtakes Microsoft seems almost inevitable from this angle.
Globally, Facebook has seen no less growth and today hosts over 400 million users.
Interestingly, Nielsen also noted that the overall Web in the U.S. has increased by 3.8% to just over 203 million users.
Clearly social networking and social media sites have a huge part to play in the continued expansion of the Web, with Facebook itself playing no small part in that grand push. Of course, that's why everyone's trying to get social now. Last week, for example, Google released Google Buzz, a FriendFeed-like stream embedded in Gmail which, though a seemingly solid social experience, has since been dogged down by multifarious privacy concerns.