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.