While Facebook Lags, Tumblr & Pinterest Are The Fastest Growing Social Networks
Global Web Index's third quarter report shows Facebook is growing slower than its competitors but it's still solidly in the No. 1 position.
With a user base of one-third of the Internet-connected world, Facebook’s place as the largest social media platform remains unquestionable, but new research shows that the 10-year-old network is settling into slower growth mode.
In the last six months, Facebook grew more slowly than all the other major social networks, measured by either increases in members or active users, according to a report by Global Web Index.
Tumblr and Pinterest are the growth leaders, increasing their active users by 120% and 111%, respectively. Pinterest’s membership increased by 57% and Tumblr by 45%. By contrast Facebook added only 6% to its member base and 2% to its roster of active users, growth rates well below the rest of the social platforms studied, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. Facebook’s photo sharing network Instagram, which was the fastest growing network in GWI’s report six months ago, fell to third in the latest results.
Of course, the other networks are playing a major game of catch-up to Facebook and its 1.35 billion monthly active users.
The GWI report — which is based on interviews of a global sample of 40,000 people from 32 countries — emphasizes that Facebook is by far the social media leader. Excluding China (where Facebook is officially banned), four of five Internet users say they have a Facebook account, including 93% of people in Latin America.
And 54% one of two say they actively use Facebook at least once a month, which is twice as many as Twitter, YouTube or Google+, the networks vying for second place. Further, 54% of Facebook’s active users log in multiple times a day, 20 percentage points more than second-place Twitter.
The problem for Facebook is that some people are losing interest, especially in the United States and United Kingdom and among younger users. As the report’s author Jason Mander, GWI’s head of trends, wrote:
Facebook has some major challenges to face. Firstly, people are growing tired of it, with 50% of members in the UK and US saying that they’re using it less frequently than they used to (rising to 64% among teens). Some of the top reasons for this include that members are less interested in Facebook than they used to be (45%, climbing to 54% for teens), that they’re bored of it (37%, but up to 50% for teens) and that it’s not as cool as it used to be (18%, rising to 27% for teens). Facebook is also the only network which has seen a drop in active usage among 16-24s during 2014; although it’s a very small one (-0.5%), it needs to be viewed in the context of all other networks posting substantial increases among this demographic. Finally, it’s clear that people are using Facebook more passively; since the start of 2013, we’ve seen behaviors like sharing photos and messaging friends fall by around 20 percentage points.
So what should those who depend on social networks to promote their businesses conclude from the growth figures? That it’s wise to diversify. The report notes that users are increasingly active across multiple networks, that 91% of global Internet users visited Facebook or YouTube or Twitter or Google+ in the last month and that 19% visited all four.
“The once-influential idea that the rise of one network automatically leads to the demise of another is simply not true – multi-networking is now a major trend, with internet users maintaining profiles across a wide range of social platforms,” Mander wrote. “Any new name entering this space is more likely to become an additional network that people use, rather than supplanting existing ones entirely.”
Furthermore, the report states that Facebook’s slower growth and slipping popularity isn’t hurting the company’s bottom line:
Along with other users, teens haven’t left Facebook – they’re still visiting it and using it, they’re just less positive about it than they used to be. Even more crucially, Facebook doesn’t need its users to love it; its ad-based revenues are underpinned by the proposition of reaching specific audiences. So, as long as membership and visitation rates remain strong or on the rise – as they are – profits will follow.