Recent figures confirm the success of Facebook as the absolute No. 1 social media platform.

With more than 500 million users, it is now used by 1 in every 13 people on Earth. Over 50% of all Facebook users log in at least once a day, which explains the 700 billion minutes a month that are spent on the portal, allowing users to install around 20 million applications per day, and that over 250 million people interact with Facebook from outside the official website on a monthly basis across two million websites. In just 20 minutes on Facebook, over one million links are shared, two million friend requests are accepted, and almost three million messages are sent. Impressive numbers that are expected to only go up in 2011.

The younger generation, the so-called digital natives, are the biggest supporters of this social networking portal. The tremendous growth rate of the U.S. network clearly shows its development perspective, not to mention that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has just stressed once again that his company is still at the very beginning and that he wants to hire an additional 500 employees. As usual, with popularity, profitability needs to keep pace in the long run.

Interestingly, in almost equal measure to the growth, the average length of stay by Facebook users has declined, but still remains more than two hours per month higher than in all other social networks.

Furthermore, the fact that Facebook is almost omnipresent shouldn’t be neglected as it is also, for instance, involved in Twitter applications. API interfaces to Twitter and other communications services and a flood of applications that connect to Facebook proves its forthrightness that they provide members many options and offers, but forces nothing upon them. This is most likely the main reason for Facebook’s success.

For some it is a big playground where they can try out things, for others the network becomes more and more a virtual center of their life.

The huge base of Facebook fans and Zuckerberg’s announcement to recruit an additional 500 employees will most likely scare off many competitors. The question that now arises is whether competing networks can define their own path clearly without being perceived as poor "Facebook" copies to have a future.

By Daniela La Marca