Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Two of these names at least, should be quite familiar to everyone reading this. They are heavily dominant names in the social networking space today. LinkedIn still is a force to an extent, but it deals with the less wildly popular professional side of social networking, focusing on employment and so on. Using the search analytics tool Compete to compare these 3 giants of social networking, we see some interesting statistics:
For a start, we see the vast disparity between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This just emphasises the market dominance and power clearly displayed by Facebook in the modern day. In this single year timespan, Facebook has grown by 2.49% per month, and an impressive 16.95% for the year. Similar statistics are shown in Twitter and LinkedIn, although LinkedIn has rocketed to popularity of late, with a staggering 52.59% growth in the past year. A recent comScore report showed that, “Social Networking accounts for 1 of every 6 minutes spent online”. That is insane. While other, once popular, social networking hubs, such as MySpace and Bebo begin to crumble and fall, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest snatch up popularity like it was going out of fashion.
Of course, this growth in the social networking space cannot last forever. There are only so many people physically on the internet that it is possible to reach! As the number of internet users grows year after year, of course fresh users will come and sign up for all these social networks. However, according to an eMarketer study, currently there are approximately 147.8 million social network users in the US, and this represents 63.7% of the total number of internet users in the US. This number has increased from 2009, where it was 113 million social network users in the US, which only represented 52.3% of the entire internet userbase in the US. While still rising steadily, these numbers are only expected to increase to 164.2 million social network users, representing a total of 67% of internet users in the US by 2013. This is a massive statistic in itself, but clearly shows the level of market saturation is having a marked effect.
This is the age of Social Networks – a movie has even been made about the story behind Facebook. Inescapably, more and more people want to have online friends and stay connected – all of these services are simply catering to these demands. Sooner or later of course, the growth will slow to a near stop, as services become completely saturated or estrange their users through shady privacy practices or monetization strategies. Until then however, social networking is the wave of the future.