Why Facebook Is The World’s Largest Virtual Event


I define a virtual event as “a web and occasion-based gathering that facilitates information sharing, collaboration and interaction.” Virtual events typically involve hundreds, if not thousands of simultaneous users.

Facebook enables the very same information sharing, collaboration and interaction, but does so on top of a user base of 700+ million registered users and 500 million active users.

Facebook is by far the world’s largest virtual event.  The “Facebook virtual event” is a perpetual motion machine that runs 24x7x365. If Facebook were a city, it would be The Big Apple (the city that never sleeps).

Millions of Simultaneous Users

Of Facebook’s 500 million active users, 50% (250 million) log on during any given day (source: Facebook statistics page). For highly active Facebook users, “being awake” or “being online” equate to “being on Facebook,” whether from their desktop computer at work or the mobile device in their pocket.

Of the 250 million users who login to Facebook, let’s assume that 25% are currently asleep (after all, 70% of Facebook users are outside of the United States). That leaves us with 187.5 million users. Of those, let’s say 50% are not currently on Facebook – perhaps they’re at work, or otherwise occupied. We’ll say the remaining 50% are online and “actively engaged” with Facebook.

Our non-scientific analysis leads us to conclude that there are approximately 93.75 million users online right now on Facebook.

Virtual “Events” for Brands (aka Status-casting)

Facebook isn’t a single virtual event, of course. It’s a collection of ad hoc, “spur of the moment” events that any person (or page) can create.

Brands now leverage their Facebook Pages for real-time engagement with fans, customers and prospects. In the past, brands tried to broadcast their message to the world (e.g. a TV commercial). Today with Facebook, they can status-cast.

I define a Facebook status-cast as a wall post that invites fans/followers to view content and provide input. On a brand page with a large following, a status-cast can generate hundreds of comments and thousands of “Likes” within a few minutes of the original post. Brands who status-cast typically share content that’s “on demand” (e.g. a video highlight from the game), but it’s also possible to stream live video from your brand page, as the Obama administration has done on the White House Facebook Page.

Virtual Events for Users

Beyond viewing friends’ status updates and checking out their photos, look at all of the “tools” at my disposal (above) as a Facebook user. It’s no wonder why users “stay on” Facebook for so long. I can:

  1. Look for upcoming Events
  2. Chat (in real-time) with Friends
  3. Play games
  4. Share my “game status” with Friends, or invite them to help
  5. Ask a Facebook Question
  6. Join new Groups
  7. See what my favorite brands are up to
  8. “Check in” (from my mobile device)
  9. Look for Deals
  10. Find new Apps


The world’s largest virtual event is one that never ends. Facebook started as a way to connect with friends and share status updates and photos. Today, it serves as The World’s Fair, online.


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3 Responses to Why Facebook Is The World’s Largest Virtual Event

  1. Greg Hackett says:

    I really enjoyed this Dennis – and FB is a 2D platform – is this relevant do you think?

    • Dennis Shiao says:

      Greg: yes, it’s relevant – part of the reason Facebook has been able to scale up (and beyond) 500MM active users is that its service is quick and responsive.

      I wouldn’t rule out the incorporation of 3D immersion in the future, but it clearly wouldn’t be where it is today without its simplicity and responsiveness.

  2. […] now, while others will be rolled out in the coming weeks or months. Previously, I wrote about why Facebook is the world’s largest virtual event. Looking at the changes Facebook announced, I think that some of the new features should be adopted […]

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