Facebook has grown by a stupendous 300 per cent in Europe over the last year – according to the latest ComScore statistics – and could soon have outgrown its US equivalent.
With the social networking site working hard on making itself more culturally relevant in non-US markets, the dividends appear to be huge, with a not-inconsiderable 38 per cent growth in the US – still its largest market – overshadowed by some stunning growth rates from the rest of the world.
Europe's 303 per cent growth saw it grow from an audience of 8 million unique visitors to 35 million, only 14 million behind the US total.
Europe > US by 2009?
Even if the growth rate dropped by a huge amount, it seems likely that the US audience will no longer be the largest by June 2009.
"While the social networking trend first took off in North America, it is beginning to reach a point of maturity in the region," said Jack Flanagan, comScore executive vice president.
"However, the phenomenon is still growing rapidly in other regions around the world – especially as the established American brands turn their focus to developing markets.
Leveraging the brand
"Facebook has done an exceptional job of leveraging its brand internationally during the past year.
"By increasing the site's relevance to local markets through local language interface translation, the site is now competing strongly or even capturing the lead in several markets where it had a relatively minor presence just a year ago."
The waning MySpace remains the second biggest social network with a global unique audience of over 132,105,000, but its three per cent growth compared to Facebook's accumulated 153 per cent, and audience total of 132,105,000, shows the major shift in the sector.
Hi5.com, huge in Spanish-speaking countries, has doubled its audience inside the last year to become the third biggest in the ComScore rankings, with a global total of 56,367,000.