When I quit Facebook last fall, I swore I would never look back – I would never write about it again. Forgive me, then, as I am compelled to share a look at Facebook usage data recently reported by comScore. It will be our little secret, as you will – as is typical of Lairig Marketing – not find this perspective anywhere else.
The funny thing is – all the data anyone needs is hiding in plain sight. comScore presented a robust set of charts and graphs, comparing Facebook measures among U.S. users from December 2009 to December 2010. Lazy journalists and lazy bloggers chose to focus on a single result: Facebook’s unique visitor count jumped 38% over those 12 months.
Here’s what they missed.
Point #1: Two-thirds of that 38% increase in monthly visitor count came in the first six months of 2010. Since July, Facebook’s unique visitors increased just 10%. Looking at the full-year chart, the flatness of the curve in the second half is striking.
Point #2: comScore created a normative stat called “average usage days” (normative, because across 154 million users, it’s pretty meaningless as a true measure of average behavior). This came to 12.8 days in December, up 23%, less than the 38% increase overall. Translation: day-to-day user engagement is not keeping pace.
Point #3: While most articles were wowed by the 79% increase in total minutes spent on Facebook per month (driving Facebook to the #1 property on the Web), on a per “usage day” basis (see Point #2), time spent is up just over a minute, a scant 6% increase.
Point #4: The average number of visits per usage day is up just 5% over the 12 months.
Goldman Sachs and Zuckerberg’s Russian comrades are obviously looking at a different set of numbers, and couldn’t care less. But if these recent U.S. trends in engagement continue, the investors will have to hope new countries can pick up the slack, else they will need to bail out sooner than they planned.
Before they get bitten in the ass.