Is the US Economy impacted by Facebook fans?

Is the US Economy impacted by Facebook fans?

Yesterday FED cut its forecasts for U.S. economic growth. It’s been just a few days after ComScore, echoed by Mashable, reported some figures about the time spent online in the US.

A question came across my mind: is Facebook impacting the US Economy?

Surely, Facebook is the last, more powerful B2C marketing resource of the last two years. Surely, Facebook is helping a huge number of companies getting more clients and making profits.

However, partially as a joke and partially because I was curious to see if I could find a link between the most recent economic crisis (did you realize we are in mid 2011 and regardless of all the governments efforts it’s still on?) and the impact of Social Networks, I decided to investigate a bit more and compare Facebook’s success and gross domestic product (GDP) drop.

I started this analysis for the US, since more data are available for this region. Mind the font color red and green to find similarities.

According to ComScore, time spent online on top websites (US data) is overall growing if we analyze the period going from December 2009 and December 2010. During that period,time spent on Facebook went from about 7% to about 12.3%, according to ComScore.

In a more recent analysis ComScore stated that Facebook counts about 160M monthly visitors. Added to the 40M of MySpace, they represent over 1/3rd of the US population. Enough to influence the economy.

The highest growth in Facebook traffic in the US happened between September 2008 and November 09, when it went from about 40M visitors/month to about 120M. And then again between February and August 2010, with another 30% increase.

Unique visitors on Facebook and MySpace

What happened to the US economy during the same time?

There’s been a huge fall in the US ISM manufacturing index in the second half of 2008 and then again (yet smaller) at the beginning of 2010. Maybe just a coincidence.

More interesting is the GDP change over the previous quarter, based on official data by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Starting from the second half of 2008, there has been an marked drop in the US GDP, taking from 14,470 billions of dollars to about 14,035 billions of dollars in the second quarter of 2009. The US GDP got back to over 14,470 billions of dollars only in the first quarter of 2010.

Another small decline appears in the second quarter of 2010.

Is this again just a coincidence?


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