It took a relatively big population to be one of the 10 fastest-growing countries on Facebook during February, based on the numbers from our forthcoming monthly Global Monitor report. Facebook’s growth over the past years has happened sporadically in countries large and small.
And, to be sure, most of the 98 countries we track continued to gain users last month. The thing is that many smaller countries appear to have saturated their potential audiences, typically with between 30% and 50% of the population on the site every month in areas with widespread access to the internet.
From 373 million monthly active users (MAU) at the start of February, we tracked Facebook going to 394 million by the end of the month. That’s an increase of 21 million or so which is around what we saw last month when you factor in that the month of February is short a couple days.
We should also note that we get our data from Facebook’s advertiser tool, which is typically at least several weeks behind. For example, Facebook announced it had 400 million MAU in early February — close to what the service is at by our numbers. This taken into account, our data appears to be accurately reflect what is happening on Facebook.
But take a look at our top 10 list. The United States continues to grow by the largest number of new users, with 4.61 million new people joining in February. The rest of the top countries are some the largest in their particular parts of the world, with a few exceptions. Indonesia and the Philippines come next on our list, with 1.79 and 1.37 million new users apiece. Europe comprises most of the rest of the list, with Germany continuing to be a big growth market; Facebook is only getting popular there now, years, after it became popular in the United Kingdom and other parts of the region.
Mexico and India appear to be growing for the same reason as Germany, and Indonesia and the Philippines, for that matter. Other social networks got popular in all of these countries first, before Facebook’s international expansion really took hold. But now Facebook has entered the market, and is gaining users at double-digit growth rates — and while sometimes locally-established are holding their own, the trend here is going in one direction.
There are still countries in the world where Facebook has not taken hold — Russia is one where local competitors continue to do well, although Facebook grew there this month and is slowly inching towards a million users. China, notably, blocks Facebook completely; we counted 63,000 users there last month, who are apparently tunneling in via some sort of IP routing software. Vietnam, sort of does, too. Both countries posted declines. The other ones to fall, were, as we alluded to earlier, places where Facebook has already saturated the population. While drops were insignificant — in the thousands, mostly — but included Iceland, Singapore, Norway and the United Kingdom.
For all the details, check out our new Global Monitor report. The latest version with all these numbers and more is coming this week.