Facebook still dominates – but sees its user traffic dropping
June 20, 2011
by Mark Ollig

When talking about social networking sites, the first one to come into most people’s minds is Facebook.

The question is: “Has Facebook’s days of reigning as king of the social networking mountain peaked?”

Granted, the latest numbers do show an overall monthly growth in Facebook users, but this growth is noticeably not as strong as it once was.

Make no mistake; Facebook still remains alone on the top rung of the social networking ladder, even though it has seen its user traffic dropping off in some countries.

In addition, Facebook will soon reach the 700 million registered users worldwide mark.

This is an imposing number for any Internet website, let alone an online social networking site.

While this number is remarkable, the long-term analysis shows the last two months’ growth at a lower-than-normal trend.

According to Inside Facebook, one of the leading online sources of information about Facebook, some disturbing user traffic numbers for May were found.

The numbers come from Facebook’s own internal tracking data.

These numbers show the United States began the month of May with 155.2 million Facebook users, and finished with 149.4 million users – a surprising loss of almost six million Facebook users in one month.

Of course, when you consider the population of this country is 300 million, and half of us are signed up as Facebook users . . . well, that suggests to me Facebook is still pretty popular with the online users here.

This past May’s numbers showed our Canadian social networking neighbors starting off the month at 18.1 million Facebook users, and ending lower with16.6 million users.

Digging further into these newly released numbers we find Russia, Norway, and the United Kingdom, all dropping more than 100,000 Facebook users.

During this last year, Facebook has been gaining an average of 20 million new users each month; however, the data shows this average falling.

Only 13.9 million new users were gained in April, and just 11.8 million in May. While this is still growth, it is lower-than-expected growth, which is why some are wondering if this is an indication of a decline in Facebook’s popularity.

This reduced growth could also be an indication Facebook may have reached the saturation point in countries where it has been available for a while.

Reasons for the change in Facebook’s user traffic has also been attributed to the number of students dropping off of Facebook who are graduating from college, seasonal work changes, and other factors which might cause reduced user traffic numbers.

One very impressive number is the 687.1 million registered users Facebook had as of June 1.

When Facebook reaches the 700 million user mark (which it will), we will no doubt be informed via an official announcement by Facebook – and by every other tweeted and re-tweeted message we see scrolling down on Twitter.

Here is the breakdown of the top 10 countries which make up over half of the current 687.1 million Facebook users:

• United States . . . 149.4 million.

• Indonesia . . . 37.9 million

• United Kingdom . . . 29.5 million

• Turkey . . . 28.9 million

• India . . . 26.6 million

• Mexico . . . 25.6 million

• Philippines . . . 24.5 million

• France . . . 22.5 million

• Italy . . . 19.6 million

• Brazil . . . 19.0 million

If you are wondering where China is, they currently use the Chinese government’s social-networking site called the Renren Network, which, in English means “everyone’s network.”

Information from the China Internet Network Information Center shows a total 457 million people in China using the Internet. They also reported Renren had 117 million users as of March 31.

Renren’s website is in Chinese, and is located at http://renren.com.

Using a somewhat reliable Google translator, the welcome banner on Renren in English translates to “All networks, the most real and most effective social networking platform, adding all network and find old friends, make new friends.”

The question of “when” Facebook will reach the one billion users milestone has been changed to “can” Facebook reach the one billion users milestone – in my humble opinion.

If Facebook gains access to China’s online Internet users, it will then probably find enough new growth to reach this milestone.

I didn’t want to leave out Twitter, the number-two online social networking site, which some prefer to call a “microblogging site.”

Its total user numbers have been soaring – currently boasting over 200 million registered users tweeting out some 2,200 messages per second.

I was also somewhat surprised last week when I learned Apple would be incorporating Twitter, and not Facebook, into its new iOS 5 mobile operating system, which will be used soon in Apple’s iPads, iPods, and iPhones.

We will have to wait and see how this one plays out.

Remaining king of the social networking mountain for a long period of time is something that cannot be taken for granted anymore – especially in this highly competitive and technologically evolving online social networking world.

Just ask the folks running the MySpace social networking site.

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