by: Matt Rhodes

Data released today from Compete.com supports what will not be a surprise to most. Facebook is the most visited social network, with nearly 1.2 billion visits in January 2009. This also represents significant growth, with visits to Facebook up 36% on December, and 256% over the previous twelve months. MySpace slipped into second place at the end of 2008 and since September of that year has been seeing visits levelling at about 810 thousand a month.

But the real news may be neither of  these sites. More dramatic is the catapulting of Twitter from 22nd most visited social network at the start of 2008, to third most visited in January. A growth of 1,227% in 12 months.

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Facebook’s continued growth is certainly impressive, and their success in 2008 is probably due, at least in part, to their continued innovation during the year. They made some significant changes to the user-interface and continue to roll-out significant changes on a fairly regular basis (such as the recent introduction of the ‘I like this‘ feature). Innovation is important. As more users join the social network their needs will change and the way they want to use the site will change. With a 256% increase in visits over the last 12 months, there is no doubt that the use people want from Facebook is changing and constant innovation helps them to react and respond to this.

Twitter’s growth is an area of particular interest and comment at the moment. We posted a few weeks ago on why we think that 2009 will be the year for Twitter and that it will join the mainstream this year. It is clear that many of the people who have been using Twitter for some time now are getting great benefit from it. Their networks are growing and the uses they are making of it are growing with it. But if you compare visits to Twitter with visits to the two more popular social networks (MySpace and Facebook), it is clear that it still has a long way to grow.

With a range of very different people now starting to explore and use Twitter, from traditional mass media outlets to popular celebrities, we expect the rapid growth of the last twelve months to continue in the next twelve. If they are to be successful they need to innovate in the way that Facebook has done. Move beyond their traditional audience and explore new features, interfaces and ways of working. With this rapid scale of growth, the average Twitter user is very different now to the average user twelve months ago. In the next twelve months, the average user will change again.

Some more reading

Original Post: http://blog.freshnetworks.com/2009/02/facebook-is-the-most-visited-social-network-and-twitter-is-third/

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