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Is Facebook’s Growth Under Threat?

Facebook has been on a huge growth binge since Mark Zuckerberg launched the social networking platform at Harvard in 2004. Its stated goal is to reach 1 billion users and there are some numbers emerging that indicate that reaching that level may take a little longer than initially expected or maybe not even be achieved.Is Facebook's Growth Under Threat?

Inside Facebook released some figures last week which showed the social networking giant still growing with its monthly users approaching 700 million with a total of 687 million monthly actives (a growth of 11.8 million).

Decline in the US?

What was interesting though was that data showed these trends in the USA and Canada during May.

  • The USA had lost nearly 6 million users from 155.2 million to 149.4 million
  • Canada dropped by 1.5 million users from 18.1 million to 16.6 million

Is this the first sign of the marketplace in Canada and the US reaching saturation?

In the scheme of things though overall though growth was maintained though with countries such as India adding nearly 2 million,  Brazil with 1.9 million additional users and Indonesia adding 1.5 million.

Are These Numbers Accurate?

The question that needs to be asked though is “Are these numbers accurate?” Inside Facebook published the following day a post revealing that statistics from several other sources with conflicting trends.

The Compete.com numbers displayed a decline but Comscore and Quantcast showing continuing growth in Facebook’s numbers during May in the US.

Facebook growth or decline

If this is the case, is Facebook close to or past its zenith in the developed countries and will the growth have to be obtained from the developing nations?

Facebook’s Greatest Potential for Growth

The greatest opportunity for growth is maybe India (the second most populous country on the planet) with a population over 1.2 billion where many are English speaking. China promises huge potential for Facebook with a population of over 1.3 billion but until Facebook  is allowed to operate there then that potential will never be realized.

Some numbers from Nielsen show that in Australia where Facebook use and penetration is one of the highest in the world, that the overall trend is very flat and bouncing around between 8.7 million and 9.6 million over the last 13 months.

Facebook unique audience June 2011 Australia Nielsen

The reality is though that  nothing lasts forever and Facebook might find that it will need to start not taking  its users for granted on important features and functions such as privacy and security.

I will watch with interest over the next few months to see what trends will emerge.

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Jeffbullas's Blog


  • Jim

    Personally, I find the Pareto Principle applies well to my use of social media, with 80% of my time devoted to Twitter and 20% to Facebook. I have grave concerns about privacy on FB, and often think about cancelling my account there, but I have been holding off for some time. I’m just not convinced that FB is a useful as Twitter.

    BTW I also jumped on the MySpace bandwagon several years ago, and *never* use that site anymore. Would love to see you write about the demise of MySpace one day.

  • Josh Milenthal

    I wrote a blog post recently about this (http://joshmilenthal.com/2011/06/facebook-lost-users-in-may-and-its-a-good-thing/).

    In the end I think that its a good thing. While the numbers may be accurate only to a certain degree, its a fact the you cant keep growing forever in saturated markets. Facebook is bound to lose users in countries that have such high percentages of market penetration, like the US, UK, and Canada. The users it is losing though? They are people who arent making them money anyways because they most likely don’t use the site all that often. While overall numbers may, or may not, have decreased I think weeding out users with little worth to the company isn’t a bad thing or a sign of decline.

  • @dock29

    I don’t think these numbers reflect mobile touchpoints through apps…is that correct? @dock29