We guess it had to happen sooner or later, but it appears that the rapid growth that Facebook has experienced in recent times appear to be slowing down as the social media site has the majority of U.S. people signed up to it.
According to comScore and The Wall Street Journal, Facebook's user growth rate in the U.S. is slowing sharply. In April, U.S. unique visitors to the website increased to 158 million, up just 5% from a year earlier. This is the lowest U.S. growth user rate comScore has recorded since it began tracking the data back in 2008, this being down significantly from 24% growth in April 2011 and 89% in April 2010.
Alongside this, engagement on the social network is also decreasing. In April, Facebook users spent more than six hours a month on the site, up 16% from a year earlier, but that's still less than the 23% increase in 2011 and 57% in 2010.
Considering the rapid speed it's been growing, it was inevitable that Facebook's growth would begin to slow down sooner rather than later, especially in developed countries. If we were to get figures that look at how the site is growing overseas, it may paint a different picture, and if Facebook does go ahead with its plans to open the site up to those younger than 13 years old, it could help reverse the slowing growth trend.
But despite that, the company should prepare for the day this growth ends and its focus shifts towards engaging its members. At the moment, engagement isn't too great a concern - the six hours a month spent on the site is greater than the four hours a month people spend on Google's sites including YouTube, and the three and a half hours they spend on Yahoo sites, according to comScore.
However, as there's been different reports as to how effective Facebook's new advertising model is (in response to Reuters/Ispos poll, comScore released a study which said that it's in good health although it's a client of Facebook so that needs to be taken with a pinch of salt too), it's hard to say whether the new advertising model is working or not, but Facebook's quarterly earnings for this year will provide us with a better idea as to whether it's being successful or not.
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- Image via The Wall Street Journal