Worldwide Gains, Possible US Traffic Slowdown for Facebook in January 2011

Some differences between different data sources appear in our latest effort to triangulate Facebook’s traffic. The company had a pretty strong February around the world, according to data from our Inside Facebook Gold report, gaining 23.8 million new users to total 641.1 million monthly actives. The United States led, adding 3.3 million to reach 152.2 million MAU. But it followed a flat January in the US.

Third-party measurement services have numbers that don’t exactly match up to these or each other, though. Here’s a closer look.

Compete

According to Compete, Facebook actually lost around 6.5 million in the US to end at 127.5 million unique US visitors in January. MySpace continued its long decline, with 43.6 million monthly uniques. Twitter grew more than it has in many months, adding 1.5 million new people to reach nearly 28 million.

ComScore

ComScore, which reports both US and worldwide numbers, and also has the February data out for the former, shows something similar. Facebook lost 800,000 US users in January, then another 2.4 million in February to end 150.7 million unique visitors. MySpace also continued to drop hard, and Twitter gained in January but fell back in February.

Worldwide, however, comScore gained 27.9 million users in January to end at 675.4 million uniques. Twitter also boomed up to 113.2 million and MySpace fell.

Google Ad Planner

Worldwide, Facebook fell back from 600 million to 590 monthly uniques in January, although the daily unique visitor count that Google tracks via cookies continues to show gains, now past 300 million. Facebook says that around half its users come back every day.

Quantcast

Directionally, Quantcast’s data looks unlike Compete’s and comScore’s — Facebook slowly grew to 137 million, a roughly 3 million gain in January. MySpace continued down and to the right, Twitter oddly has more than double what all other services show with 88.2 million in the US.

Conclusion

Each company has a different methodology; we get our data from Facebook’s ad tool, which can sometimes be delayed or buggy. So in trying to judge the general trend, worldwide Facebook growth appears to have been strong in January, while the situation in the US is less clear. December also showed mixed results for the company. We’ll see what February and March show about the trends.