Facebook Desktop Time Dips, Rise In Mobile Usage Boosts Engagement

Whether Facebook is losing ground to popular messaging apps among younger users has been a hot topic of debate in recent months. Usage is apt to be monitored ever more closely for signs that the site’s dominance in the social media world is diminishing.
In that vein, Facebook’s U.S. share of time spent on the Internet in February dipped to 17.7% from 18.2% in January, according to a JPMorgan research note issued Wednesday, citing comScore figures. Minutes spent on both desktop and mobile last month were down from January, which analyst Doug Anmuth attributed at least partly to February having fewer days than the January.
He also suggested that new mobile device sales helped boost engagement in January. Mobile minutes per unique viewer also dropped on a monthly basis, although desktop was nearly stable. At the same time, Facebook’s share of mobile minutes ticked up to 22% from 21% in January and 20% in December.
This has widened the gap with competing services such as Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and Snapchat, which combined have been “flattish” at about 5% since July 2013. If Instagram and WhatsApp were included with Facebook, total Facebook minutes grew 31% from a year ago, representing a modest decline from 34% in January.
Taking a closer look at Twitter, the report noted that the microblogging service saw total minutes increase 45% in February from a year ago, although that was down from 65% growth the prior month. Twitter’s mobile audience grew 38% in February compared to 40% in January, while desktop traffic was up 4% after slipping 1% in January.
The increase in time spent on Twitter, however, slowed to 70% last month from 108% in January, while desktop minutes rose 10%. Both Facebook and Twitter (but especially Twitter) have seen mobile traffic shoot up in the last year. As of January, Twitter had about 30 million mobile-only users compared to 39.3 million on the desktop, according to comScore’s Multi-Platform report.
Facebook had about 46 million mobile-only users and 145.1 million on the desktop in the U.S. Whether the social network’s engagement figures continue to trend downward during 2014 will be interesting to watch, especially as it rolls out auto-play video ads in the coming year.
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