New March Data: How Are Facebook Users Responding to the Redesign?

It’s been nearly a month now since Facebook rolled out its new home page redesign. As usual, there was a lot of fanfare, and many users protested the change. However, now that March data is rolling in, let’s take a look at what’s actually happening.

Summary

According to Compete, Facebook’s US growth rate accelerated in March (this is likely largely due to Facebook’s incredible growth rate amongst users over 35), and Facebook’s overall share of time spent online in the US also increased. However, whether these trends correspond to increased engagement (i.e. visits per user or time spent per user) is unclear.

1. US Unique Visitors Hits All Time High in March

Compete shows Facebook hitting over 91 million unique US users in March – up 23% over February and up nearly 200% since a year ago. Meanwhile, MySpace also recovered a bit in March, up nearly 5% to 55.5 million US uniques, and Twitter grew an astounding 76% to over 14 million US uniques.

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2. Overall Share of Time Spent Also Hits New High

New data also shows that, while Facebook’s share of time spent took a dip shortly after the new home page launched, it quickly recovered and hit new highs in % of time spent at over 6.5%, up 13.3% since 30 days ago.

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3. Changes in Retention and Engagement Unclear

Although Compete measured a jump in unique users to Facebook in March by nearly 25%, time spent only increased by just over half that. Thus, according to Compete, overall time spent per unique user slightly decreased in March.

There are a couple possible reasons this could be the case:

  • Because such a large portion of Facebook’s visitors in March were new users, these new users likely brought down the overall time spent per user number, simply because new users spend less time on Facebook (since they are just learning to use the service and usually have a small network of friends).
  • Overall, Facebook users find the real-time stream slightly less engaging than the old algorithmic News Feed.

Of course, this data needs to be taken with a slight grain of salt because it is just one month of data from one provider, and there is widely known to be very high variability in core metrics between Compete, Comscore, and Hitwise. Nevertheless, the data clearly does show that 1) Facebook users are not revolting en masse, and 2) the changes have not greatly narrowed Facebook’s appeal.