Facebook’s US User Growth Rate Continues To Slow; Twitter Experiences Modest Gains
With Facebook expected to hit the one billion mark later on this year, not only could such a target fall later than expected but the rapid growth that the site has experienced in recent years could slow down exponentially over the next few years, if a new report from eMarketer is to be believed.
In a report released today, the analytics group found that, focusing on the site’s user growth rate in the U.S., the company’s growth rate percentage experienced a dramatic drop of 25.2 per cent between 2010 and 2011, falling from 38.6 per cent in 2010 down to 13.4 per cent by 2011.
This year and the following two years are expected to continue this trend, the expected growth rate for 2012 is expected be more than halved (6.6 per cent) while for 2013, the figure will fall again to 3.9 per cent before stabilising for 2014 (3.6 per cent).
The main reason behind this prediction is that Facebook has already converted the vast majority of U.S users and already have them on their site. Since the pool of non-Facebook users becomes smaller with every passing year, the growth figure will naturally reflect this. At no point should Facebook be worried about its future as all they need to do is concentrate on satisfying those users who are already on the site.
The other element to consider is that Facebook is making a huge push towards monetising the site through Timeline brand pages as well as through mobile adverts. Their large userbase means that it makes more sense than ever to focus on these areas, and as it been reiterated many times, Facebook’s goal is to create new revenue streams and improve on the current ones.
On the other end of the spectrum, Twitter is expected to experience a similar drop in its growth rate, but not only will it not be as dramatic as Facebook’s, it will still be at least four times as great as Facebook’s growth rate. Increasing from 23.5 per cent to 31.9 per cent between 2010 and 2011, this is expected to fall to 20.7 per cent this year, while falling and stabilising to 14.8 per cent in 2013 and later 14 per cent in 2014.
The reason for the disparities between the two sites is due to the size of their current userbase. Looking at eMarketer’s second graph, there is a massive difference between the number of Facebook and Twitter users in the U.S., which isn’t expected to change massively over the next few years.
Twitter will continue to grow as, judging by the current user figures, there are far more non Twitter users out there who are only discovering the service now. With less than 24 million users at the end of last year but this figure is expected to almost double by 2014, reaching 37.6 million. On the other hand, Facebook has the U.S. market practically tied up which means its growth rate will become more modest as time passes.
Neither results should be either a cause for concern or optimism for either site. Instead the results reflect the stages Facebook and Twitter are at right now. One has its userbase and is in the process of becoming more commercialised, while the other is further cementing its place and looking at possible avenues for generating revenue. Both companies will be trying to determine the best ways to turn their site into a sustainable business and you can imagine that if they crack it, many more will follow suit.