As usual from Mashable this is insightful reporting on the web as it evolves.
There’s been so much coverage of the explosive growth of these sites we can be forgiven for thinking the world as we knew it a few years ago was coming to an end, with the answer to every question being Social Media.
But those of us more closely involved in exploring the new world have been aware at least some of this growth was froth, a bit like the credit bubble.
If my Twitter follower list is anything to go by vast numbers of people signed up, and then quickly gave up. Last time I checked 40% of the list hadn’t updated in the last three months. There’s been an explosion in Spammers automatically creating thousands of accounts and auto following everybody. The folks at Twitter are clearing these out. And there’s been a lot of growth with people pushing MLM schemes.
In the last year Facebook has gone from a niche service for college kids to brag about stuff their parents don’t want to hear, to a link building platform for Internet Marketers. What with the professionals dominating kids walls with blog links, and parents now commenting on their offsprings’ exploits, Facebook isn’t the cool place it was. Kids are leaving it in droves, or anyway mine are.
But the die is now cast and social media engagement is now a matter of fact. Something will come along to replace these sites, and make a proper job of it, learning from what went on before.
Who, or what will it be? I don’t know – what do you think?
Throughout the entire 2008 and the better part of 2009, we’ve reported on Facebook and Twitter’s explosive growth. Month after month, we’ve seen tremendous numbers from both these services, while some giants of old, such as MySpace, dropped lower and lower.
Somewhere in June, however, Twitter stopped growing, at least according to Compete. The same thing happened to Facebook at the exact same time; at first we’ve attributed the traffic numbers to the summer slumber, but now that Compete’s numbers for September are out, there’s no doubt that both Facebook and Twitter are no longer growing, at least in the eyes of the (admittedly US-centric) Compete.
Summer is one thing, but September is the month when everyone comes back to work, when the IT industry wakes up and when things, generally, start happening. A bump in the stats of almost everything that’s online is natural, so Facebook’s meager 1.96% growth when it comes to unique visitors isn’t something you’d write home about.
There’s a difference between these two, however: Facebook is already huge; there’s always a question of whether it has room for further growth at all. Twitter is several orders of magnitude smaller; accustomed to its explosive growth, we’ve already started calling it the “new SMS”, but if it stays where it is, numbers-wise, it’s not going to cut it. In September, its unique visitors fell by 0.17%, to 23,538,791. Over the last three months, it has grown approximately three times less than in May alone.
Furthermore, if we look at visits, Facebook experienced a solid 3.99% increase to 2,290,512,524, but Twitter actually dropped by a further 2.68% to 144,661,590. This doesn’t look too bad until you remember that Twitter’s growth in the last three months has been a staggering 463.62%.
When it comes to other social networking powerhouses of old, the situation is far, far worse. MySpace and Bebo are bleeding users at an oustanding pace: 11.15% and 15.41%, respectively. If the trend continues, we might see these sites join services like GeoCities in the geek history books in a couple of years.
We’ve noticed, however, that LinkedIn has been steadily growing lately, and the trend continued into September, with the service recording a solid +5.68% growth. Finally, we’ve noticed last month that Digg’s numbers look excellent, but in September, they remained almost the same with a tiny 0.25% growth to 43,888,259 uniques.
Judging by these (very diverse) numbers, I have a feeling that the period ahead of us will be different than before. Users are getting picky about what they want; they’re very fast to jump on and off bandwagons, and the movements in the social networking space are getting harder and harder to predict.
A good example is another social media darling that recently got sold to Facebook: FriendFeed. Once touted as the next big thing, it seems to have sold at just the right time, as Compete’s numbers show a huge drop in both unique visitors (-28.41%) and visits (-27.96%). A couple more months, and it might completely drop off the charts.
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