November 17, 2008 |
Of course the usual race of the two largest social networks in the world – Facebook and MySpace – is always a fascinating thing to watch. While Facebook is already bigger than MySpace worldwide, it still seems (or seemed – depending on the metrics you use) to be a little behind MySpace in one particularly important country – the US.
According to comScore data, Facebook caught up to MySpace in terms of unique monthly worldwide visitors back in April – which was a predictable result of the rapid growth of Facebook worldwide. But at that most of Facebook traffic growth happened internationally while in the US Facebook was still significantly behind MySpace.
And every time that people start talks about US versus international traffic, the important thing is that US traffic usually pays higher when it comes to advertising. It is well-known that users from the US are more important to the majority of internet companies that intend to monetize their users with advertising – as the majority of the largest US brands are mostly willing to reach US customers with their messages and rarely (if ever) care about the rest of the world. Money issues is exactly what makes competition between MySpace and Facebook in the US so interesting.
Back in the end of September the guys over at Pingdom, the uptime tracking solution, predicted that Facebook would be bigger than MySpace in one or two month (by the end of November). This prediction drew notable media attention and the discussions around the posts were interesting enough for me to keep an eye on the publicly available traffic stats for both social networks to see when (or if) Facebook actually makes it to the top position in the social networking field in the US.
From time to time I looked at Google Trends for Sites (the tool used by Pingdom when they made their prediction) and Compete as well to see how the two rival social networks are doing in the US market. After taking a look at the stats today I can tell that Facebook has finally caught up to MySpace in the US – but only according to Google Trends for Websites.
This graph shows that Facebook left MySpace behind a few weeks ago. But of course the superiority is not significant enough for us to come to a conclusion that it will last long enough. And of course if MySpace resumes at least slow growth and Facebook’s own growth slows down, the graph may very well show MySpace as the largest social network in the US again.
Besides, Google Trends for Websites is not the most reliable of all traffic information sources: the statistics is only based on various data aggregated by Google itself – like toolbar usage, search history, opt-in Google Analytics information – and can not be complete, of course. I tend to think that Compete data is generally more reliable (especially when it comes to tracking US visitors) and Compete does not show anything to that effect yet – but even Compete demonstrates that Facebook is growing pretty fast while MySpace is losing its traffic – probably to its rival.
But of course to make real claims that Facebook actually attracts the same (or higher) traffic in the US we will have to wait for a report from comScore again as their stats is the only thing that can usually be trusted for traffic measurements. But even the information available now from the public sources like Google Trends and Compete still seems to hint that the change is actually pending and we will probably see a new winner in the battle for the “top social network in the US” – and pretty soon at that. So I will stay waiting for a confirmation from comScore to arrive any day now.