Facebook User Numbers Peak -- and Decline?

Another day, another column about Facebook, whose stock price just keeps going lower -- $28.26 at the time of writing, down 26% from the IPO price of $38. And it turns out the stock price isn’t the only thing falling: a look at comScore numbers from the last couple years suggests that Facebook’s growth in the U.S. may well have peaked over the last year, and might even be declining.

Okay, so the picture isn’t quite so alarming if you look at the full-year results for 2011 and 2012 thus far. Facebook averaged 161.1 million unique U.S. visitors per month in the first four months of 2012, according to comScore, up 1.2% from 159.2 million unique visitors per month for all of 2011. But focusing on the second half of last year a different picture emerges, as the number of average monthly unique U.S. visitors actually fell from 163.7 million in July-December 2012 to 161.1 million in the first four months of 2012 -- a 1.6% decline.

That’s not a huge falloff, by any means, and Facebook has seen month-to-month fluctuations in unique visitors before. But before those were mostly monthly one-offs, which disappeared when averaged with other months; the most recent downward trend may be more significant, as it is taking place over longer periods of time.

It’s also harder to attribute this decline to seasonality than previous fluctuations. Indeed, this is the first time Facebook didn’t experience growth in the first four months of the new year compared to the second half of the prior year. Previously, average monthly unique visitors increased from 149.8 million in the second half of 2010 to 152.5 million in the first four months of 2011, and from 98 million in the second half of 2009 to 115.6 million in the first four months of 2010.

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2 comments about "Facebook User Numbers Peak -- and Decline?".
  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston , May 31, 2012 at 10:31 a.m.
    I think the function of social media is still strong and unlikely to vanish (as was experienced by the CB radio craze in the 1970s), even if Facebook becomes something else. Remember how AOL became something else (Facebook)? And Yahoo became something else (Google)? Popularity fades but basic need to connect does not. 10-4, good buddy.
  2. Steve Kavetsky from AgooBiz, Inc. , June 1, 2012 at 10:52 a.m.
    Two things are happening here in regard to these fluctuating numbers. 1. FB has reached a great height in total users. As an established company like FB gets closer & closer to its peak number of members, the growth begins to decelerate. These numbers will settle into a certain range of users & keep dancing within this range until the next major change to FB is implemented. The change I'm referring to is the inevitability of FB becoming a paid service. As soon as FB is no longer free, a big chunk of the total users [who currently use FB because it is free] will initially leave. Some of them will later return if they're not happy with alternative Social Networks or if many of their friends stay with FB. 2. To a lesser degree, FB's IPO has something [but not a great deal] to do with it. WE believe FB chose the wrong time to go public and as the news media reports, its stock price is falling. It even caused Kayak to put off its IPO! In the long run, dropping stock prices won't effect the total number of users that much because there are two disconnected cultures at play here. One culture is the community of users who are on FB for personal socializing reasons. These users could care less about where FB's stock is headed. The second culture is the investment community which cares a great deal about FB's stock price but does NOT care about using its platform socially. The only time these two cultures will intersect is if the socializing [paying] culture begins an exodus away from FB. This will get the investors' attention and will have a big impact on the future stock price. Great Article Erik - thanks. Steve Kavetsky Co-founder/Pres. AgooBiz.com // The Social Commerce Network WE work greater than me