Is social networking fatigue beginning to bite in US?

1 Feb 2008

People are spending less time on social networking sites, new figures compiled by US web analyst firm, ComScore, have revealed.

Writing in the Creative Capital blog, BusinessWeek journalist Spencer E Ante revealed that ComScore figures he had seen showed that traffic and user engagement on some of the top social networking sites was declining in the US.

Growth on MySpace has slowed. While the number of unique visitors per month rose from 60.8 million in December 2006 to 68.9 million in December 2007, the figures dropped over Q407 from a peak in October when it attracted 71.9 million visitors.

Facebook had a phenomenally successful year and grew its number of monthly visitors from 19 million in December 2006 to 34 million in December 2007, but growth slowed down in Q407, with figures for October, November and December coming in at 32.9 million, 33.6 million and 34.6 million respectively.

Bebo also peaked in October 2007, clocking up 4.4 million users in the US while subsequent months November and December saw reduced numbers of 3.67 million and 4.27 million users respectively.

LinkIN saw little growth in its US user base in the last quarter of 2007.

Average minutes per month spent on social networking sites dropped significantly during 2007 for all companies except Facebook. In December 2006 the average MySpace user spent 234.6 minutes on the site; in December 2007 the average had dropped to 179.3 minutes.

The average amount of time Bebo users spent on the site dropped from 213.3 minutes in December 2006 to 173.9 minutes in December 2007.

Friendster users spent 39.2 minutes on the site in December 2007, down from 39.5 minutes in December 2006. LinkedIN users went from spending eight minutes a month on the site at the end of 2006 to 7.1 minutes at the end of last year.

Facebook has seen its monthly average drop over the last quarter of 2007, with figures coming in at 195.6, 189.7 and 169.4 minutes over October, November and December respectively.

“The total audience of US social networks seems to be stuck at a low-to-mid-single digit growth rate, while the engagement metrics are falling for just about everyone,” commented Ante. “Time spent on has been sliced in half over the last four months, while Friendster’s time spent has plummeted nearly 75pc in the same time period. Overall, minutes spent per site fell 5pc in December 2007 compared to the year-ago period.

“Slowing and/or declining growth will make it harder to generate sales and profit growth from these sites. That will put more pressure on the advertising programs to deliver results,” he speculated.

By Niall Byrne