First there were the stories about Facebook taking over your college campus, then it was your high school or workplace, then your country… now the stories are starting to be about how Facebook has used up all the new users and only has engagement left to gain. But that’s in older markets like the US. The company is still growing worldwide every month on its way to a billion users, and it’s because of places like Brazil.
In 2011, according to a new study out from leading web measurement firm comScore, Facebook added nearly 24 million new users in the country passing incumbent Orkut in December to reach 36.1 million monthly uniques. The Google-owned social network isn’t seeing any drop-off, though, in contrast to US incumbent MySpace’s fate — and in contrast to India, Orkut’s other big market that was lost to Facebook years ago. Instead, Orkut just grew slowly from 32.7 million to 34.4 million in Brazil during the year.
ComScore notes a few more specific aspects of Facebook’s gains: Southeast Brazil started to grow first but now traffic is coming from all over the country; women are spending more time on the site than men, and younger demographics are more likely to be on than older ones.
The data also shows a few other well-known web services having strong years. Twitter grew over 2010 by 40% to 12.5 million. Latin America-focused social gaming company Vostu more than tripled its home site traffic to 4.9 million. Google+, Tumblr and LinkedIn also got into the single-digit millions from relatively small 2010 bases. For G+ fans (I see you hanging out there in the comments!), here’s something else: the measurement firm adds that combined, G+ and Orkut reach a deduplicated total of 34.9 million unique visitors, so still below Facebook.
Social networking growth has been roughly following the trajectory of internet growth around the world, as comScore noted in its 2011 social networking report (which didn’t include December numbers, by the way, which is why I’m writing this article about last year now).
Brazil, however, only grew its total internet audience by a little more than six million, to 51.8 million users. So, how are all these sites growing? It’s quite possible that Brazilian internet users just really love social networking and have begun using more and more of these sites regularly — in fact, comScore’s annual report showed that. But maybe the growth is also from other incumbents who didn’t make the list losing out?
Which leads me to my usual caveat for traffic numbers like these to quiet any potential griping in comments: no third party measurement is perfect, and no, these companies don’t provide outsiders with access to their servers, so the real traffic can’t be tracked. However, Facebook’s ad tool shows very similar numbers comScore’s, with 35.2 million monthly active users as of today. Good enough for me to run with.