As of the end of 2010, 116.8 million people in the U.S. (more than half of all Internet users in the country) logged into Facebook at least once monthly, according to a new report from eMarketer. The digital media researcher expects that number to increase 13.4 percent to 132.5 million this year, meaning growth for the site has slowed considerably, but not entirely.
By 2012, eMarketer expects Facebook to have 143.4 million U.S. users logging into the site at least once monthly, meaning nine in 10 social network users and six in 10 Internet users will be on the site. That means 45.3 percent of the entire population will be regular users of the social site. You can hardly find that much of a consensus from citizens voting in the presidential election.
The data indicates that Facebook won’t be seeing anymore double-digit growth rates, but the same can’t be said of Twitter.
Still, at the end of 2010, only 16.4 million U.S. adults logged into Twitter at least once monthly. (For perspective, Facebook will be adding about that many U.S. users this year alone.) Twitter’s U.S. audience will increase 26.3 percent this year to 20.6 million. Double-digit growth will continue through 2013 for the young microblogging site.
Based on eMarketer’s numbers, 18 percent of adult social network users and 12.5 percent of adult Internet users will be using Twitter by 2012. Just one in 10 of U.S. adults will be on the site at least once monthly.
All of this is curious because it proves, once again, that Twitter’s influence might be vastly overrated. Whenever we speak of social media and networking, we cannot resist citing the big two (Facebook and Twitter), when it’s really only the former that has captivated such a massive quantity of minds here in the U.S. and abroad too. That said, both services are still less than a decade old, and time will judge which has the most long-term influence.
(It's worth noting, however, that eMarketer's numbers for Twitter only looked at adults, while the numbers for Facebook evaluate all ages.)
For the best evidence of Facebook’s very real significance today, however, we need only look to where investor money is flowing. In just the last week, three different social media management companies (Sprout Social, Syncapse and Vitrue) have raised a total of $52 million from a variety of institutional investors.