Facebook ended this past spring with a bout of negative publicity due to some privacy changes. The company’s own data has suggested a slowdown in growth (and slight traffic fall in some age groups) in the US around the same time, but the cause of the drop wasn’t clear, and anyway, growth seemed to be back on track again in July.
But third party stats are less clear. Some web measurement firms show Facebook growing quickly in May and June, while others show growth coming in spurts — with a possible growth slowdown happening internationally (though data is scant).
In the US, Facebook rose from 121.8 million unique visitors in April to 130.3 in May, then 141.6 in June — these roughly double-digit increases are some of the highest we’ve seen yet. Rivals MySpace and Twitter didn’t rise or fall by much over the same period.
Worldwide, Facebook fared even better — at least for May. From 519.1 million in April, it went to 548.1 million the next month — but then grew by only a few million total. Given the increase in US traffic in the same month, comScore seems to be showing losses for Facebook in other countries. Note: comScore is one of the few measurement companies that offers worldwide data, and tracking traffic can be very difficult in some countries.
We’re also beginning to look at Google Ad Planner, a service that uses Google’s own data analyzed together with third party data that Google brings in. The numbers like quite similar to comScore: Facebook had around 130 million US monthly unique users and 550 million worldwide over a 30 day period ending in mid-July. Ad Planner’s graphs show daily unique visitors, and for that stat, you can see a general growth slowdown for Facebook in the US and around the world over the last few months.
While the company doesn’t make worldwide data public, it has a data-sharing relationship with Facebook, and it does publish monthly information about US traffic. And here we see Facebook growing slower than in past months, going from 125.2 in May to 127.0 in June; continuing another trend, time on site also continued to slightly decrease.
Although it also doesn’t provide public worldwide numbers, Quantcast also shows Facebook hitting 130 million US uniques at the end of June, like comScore’s May numbers and Google’s more recent ones. But its long-term view of Facebook traffic is unique, showing relatively minimal growth this year, until things picked up in May. Meanwhile, MySpace continued to fall and Twitter continued to slowly grow.
And finally, we come to Compete, which already has July numbers available, too. Its story is familiar. Facebook went from 123.8 million uniques in May to 124.7 million in June to 128.1 million this past month. MySpace continued to list, and Twitter continued to grow a little.
Taken together, the firms generally tell a positive story about Facebook’s US traffic; although the privacy issues were an especially big deal to the media, politicians and others in this country, the impact is not obvious. Worldwide traffic details are scant, but they suggest that a similar growth slowdown may be taking place.