Online metrics analyst Hitwise produces some dramatic evidence showing that Facebook’s growth surge this year can be traced back to its introduction of Facebook Connect, a single-sign-on service that makes it easier for members to log in across affiliated sites and share information with friends.
According to Hitwise, Facebook surpassed MySpace as the top social networking site (ranked by visits) in the last week of May. Only three months later, Facebook had nearly 58% of social networking site visits, with MySpace lagging in second place with 31%.
Heather Doughterty, Hitwise’s director of research, explains in her most recent blog post that several “drivers” are responsible for Facebook’s soaring popularity, including its mobile apps and better site layout.
Another is certainly the Facebook Connect program, which allows users to share stories in their news feed and make comments on websites and blogs. The program launched in beta during July of last year, then officially launched to developers in early December. …
[W]hat is really interesting is to look at the year-over-year growth in the market share of visits to Facebook because there is a clear uptick in the growth rate following the launch of Facebook Connect.
She’s not kidding. Check the Hitwise chart below.
Lesson: When a social networking service makes it easier to be, well, more social, people will keep coming back.