Social Networking: Will Facebook Overtake MySpace In The U.S. In 2009?

Year end Comscore numbers for the U.S. audience are out. The first thing we checked? How the major social networks are doing.

Facebook, which became the largest worldwide social network in mid 2008, is still playing catch up to MySpace in the U.S. They have 54.5 million monthly unique visitors, says Comscore, compared to nearly 76 million for MySpace. But Facebook’s growth rate in the U.S. averaged 3.8% per month over the last twelve months. MySpace’s U.S. growth rate is 0.8% per month. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, but unless things change a lot, Facebook will overtake MySpace to become the largest social network in the U.S. in…2010.

At current growth rates Facebook will overtake MySpace in January 2010, a year from now. That is the month Facebook will reach 86 million U.S. users, compared to MySpace’s 84 million in January. Will this prediction be correct? Probably not, but it’s the best guess given today’s data.

It may actually take longer. Facebook’s growth rate had been increasing as the year wore on but dipped in December. As they get closer to MySpace it may become ever harder to catch up.

Also, even though Facebook is more than 2/3 the size of MySpace in the U.S. today, some key engagement metrics show more activity per user at MySpace. MySpace has almost two times the total time spent (17.5 billion minutes v. 9.3 billion minutes). MySpace generated 40 billion page views in December to Facebook’s 18 billion.

More data for other social networks is in the chart. Ning, starting from a smaller base, leads in overall growth rate, at 388% for the year and 14.1% monthly. Classmates is also growing quickly in the U.S. and had 16.6 million monthly unique visitors in December.