Friday, June 17, 2011

Facebook Topped Out In the U.S.?



The social networking giant, Facebook, is continuing to grow. It now has close to 700 million users, but the continued user growth on the website is not necessarily occurring within the United States. Has Facebook reached its growth limit within the states?

According to data provided by Inside Facebook, a popular blog that tracks the sites and its development platform, just in the past month the social networking site lost more than 7 million active users in the United States and Canada alone. However, growth is not declining everywhere. Inside Facebook reported that more than 1 million users from Mexico have been added to the sites network in the past month. Mexico did offer its citizens Facebook access at a later date than either the U.S. or Canada did, but it still begs the question whether or not Facebook has topped out here in the United States.

Inside Facebook reported that there have been ups and downs in terms of gains and losses of users in Canada, but this is the very first time that the United States has had a loss of active users.

Facebook is questioning the accuracy of these reports by Inside Facebook.

"From time to time, we see stories about Facebook losing users in some regions," said a statement Monday from a Facebook spokesperson. "Some of these reports use data extracted from our advertising tool, which provides broad estimates on the reach of Facebook ads and isn't designed to be a source for tracking the overall growth of Facebook. We are very pleased with our growth and with the way people are engaged with Facebook. More than 50% of our active users log on to Facebook on any given day."

According to the stats, Facebook reached 687 million users at the very beginning of June; however, the overall growth rate of the site does seem to be slowing down. In April there were 13.9 million active monthly users on Facebook, but in May the number of active users slipped to 11.8 million.

The U.S. and Canada are not the only places where the active user numbers have dropped. In the United Kingdom, Norway and Russia, all countries where Facebook has been available pretty much since the explosion of the site, active users in May dropped by 100,000 active users in each of the countries.

Despite these drops, Facebook is focusing on the globalization of the site, and there are plenty of countries where expansion is occurring. In Brazil, India and Argentina, there was more than a 5 percent growth increase.

Inside Facebook did offer up some possible reasons for the decrease in the U.S. and Canada. They noted that seasonal changes like graduations, issues with the Facebook software or any other one-time anomalies can skew data.

Inside Facebook went on to raise a few questions:
"By the time Facebook reaches around 50% of the total population in a given country (plus or minus depending on internet access rates in that country), growth generally slows to a halt, as we've noted before," read the post, by Eric Eldon.

"So far, Facebook has been able to make up stalls and losses with big gains in heavily-populated developing countries like Mexico, Brazil, India and Indonesia."

Eldon went on to recommend that if Facebook wanted to reach the 1 billion user mark, moving into China would be a definite way of securing that goal; however, he noted that if the social networking site were to agree to the terms of the Communist country, it might hurt its popularity in the states.





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