Mike Isaac

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As Competition Heightens in Social, Stateside Users Still Stuck to Facebook

facebook_ios_appWe may not be as thrilled to use Facebook as we once were. But apparently that isn’t stopping us from logging on to the world’s preeminent social network.

Time spent on Facebook among U.S. desktop and mobile users continues to climb, according to a recent research note from J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth. Stateside users spent upward of 123.2 billion minutes on Facebook during May alone, according to recent comScore data. That’s an uptick of 31 percent year on year (94.2 billion in May of 2012), and an acceleration of growth from the two months prior (119.5 billion and 119.3 billion in March and April, respectively).

That’s despite the rise of a number of competing apps and sites over the past year, including the incredibly popular messaging application WhatsApp, ephemeral messaging app Snapchat, and, of course, the microblogging service Twitter. All three networks together have made significant gains in both users and engagement, though they only account for a little more than 2.3 percent of total U.S. Internet minutes spent, compared to Facebook’s 15.7 percent, according to the data.

Granted, WhatsApp and Snapchat don’t offer desktop versions of their services like Facebook does, which means fewer opportunities for users to access the apps. Also, a great deal of WhatsApp’s growth has been in international markets, which is not measured in the comScore data Anmuth based his analysis on.

Still, more use is a hopeful sign for Facebook, especially as users continue to flee the desktop in droves and move to mobile devices. And this shift to mobile may actually help Facebook over the coming summer months, which often see downturns in desktop engagement, due to seasonal changes. In other words, while everyone flocks outside and away from their computers, they’ll be looking to their phones to log on to Facebook instead.

Engagement is important, and Facebook’s continued hold on U.S. users’ attention is admirable. But a big factor to worry about here is something that isn’t being measured in this comScore data: International usage rates.

In essence, international markets are where Facebook really needs to push for gains in growth and engagement.

After all, the U.S. only has so many people — once Facebook tops out its market penetration, it needs to start finding users somewhere else.


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