Facebook is just around the corner from 700 million users (687 million at the end of May), but the social network only gained 11.8 million uniques in May, only a 1.7% increase and a drop from 13.9 million uniques in April, according to Inside Facebook.
Those two numbers are much lower than Facebook’s average monthly user pickup of 20 million over the last year. In addition, U.S. uniques slid from 155.2 million to 149.4 million in May, marking the first time the country has lost users in the past 12 months.
Canada also witnessed a dip of 1.52 million users during May and now sits at 16.6 million, a number Inside Facebook says its user number has hovered at for a year. In addition, the United Kingdom, Norway and Russia reported losses of more than 100,000 users each during the same month.
Notice I’m saying “uniques” — we’re not talking about signups and new users, but the total number of unique users that sign onto Facebook. Inside Facebook notes this figure has ebbed in the past, but it’s been on a pretty steady incline since 2009.
Before you start screaming “North American Facebook exodus!” or “Facebook losing traction in longest-held territory, Byrne Hobart of Digital Due Diligence comments that recently “Facebook appears unusually aggressive about pruning bogus accounts, and usage usually slows at the start of the summer, too. Assuming some lag time between bogus accounts being created and then being deleted, it would make sense for the user count to dip right about now.”
In addition, Inside Facebook mentions that user growth tends to stall once more than half of a country’s population signs up, which would be the case with both the U.S. and Canada. You got a reach of half the nation — how much more of the population do you need? How much more do you expect?
What trend we should be looking at is age — if signups of younger users were on the decline, it would suggest the kids have found other social outlets (Going outside? Meeting people in real life?) to eat up their time. It’s similar to email — younger Internet users were the first to spend drastically less time using email because they stayed in contact with friends (and brands) via social networking.
But only Facebook has such user data, and it’s just a bit ironic that the company isn’t into sharing figures.
And while user growth may have slowed, it is still on the rise, especially in Latin America and Asia: the biggest increases in users last month appeared in Brazil (10% growth to 19 million users), Mexico (7.6% growth to 25.6 million) and Thailand (7.1% growth to 9.8 million).