Nielsen: Facebook Led 2009 Social Media Traffic Growth in the US and Abroad

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By Eric Eldon

Nielsen is the latest web measurement company to release a review of social networking traffic in 2009, and most of the results aren’t too surprising:  Both the number of users to social networking sites and the amount of time they spent increased substantially, with Facebook leading the way. Here’s our quick take.

“With 206.9 million unique visitors, Facebook was the No. 1 global social networking destination in December 2009,” Nielsen says, “and 67% of global social media users visited the site during the month.” Facebook had reported 350 million monthly active users worldwide at the beginning of December and 400 million at the beginning of February. ComScore was the only other web measurement firm to report Facebook’s global December traffic, and it showed the company with 469 million monthly unique visitors (essentially the same measurement as MAU) for that same period. International traffic is nearly impossible to accurately measure, so the wide discrepancies here are not surprising.

Moving on…. Nielsen also reports that Facebook grew by 200% year-over-year in the United States, a stat that basically lines up with what rival firms have seen.

In terms of time spent on site, Nielsen says that global users spent nearly six hours on the site in December. The company separately released US traffic stats for January, last week, that showed Facebook having grown to 116 million monthly unique visitors and 7 hours per user per month. That’s up from 6.5 hours that the average US user spent on Facebook in December, according to Nielsen. If our understanding of these various numbers is correct, then US Facebook users have recently been spending more time on the service than the average person elsewhere — it’d be interesting for Nielsen to share if there’s been a global increase in time on site among Facebook users.