Compete is a web based search engine optimisation (SEO) tool that provides a range of services to developers. Compete offers various packages, many of which are paid services, the level of service you receive from Compete depends on the amount you pay for your subscription. Compete does however offer a limited number of useful services for free, one of which is tracking the number of unique visitors to a web site. The number of unique visitors is determined by how many distinct individuals visit a site each month, visitors are only counted once no matter how many times they may visit a site.
I have utilized the unique visitor tool that Compete offers to compare some of the popular social networking web sites. The sites that are compared for their unique visitors are Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and delicious. As Google+ has not been open to the public for that long, Google+ is a little misrepresented in the line graphs below. There has been a lot of interest in Google+ but there has also been difficulty for people to join see this long list of comments in response to this article.
The comparison is being made over four months from April 2011 to July 2011 inclusive. The charts below show the number of unique visitors to each site as generated by unique.
As you can see from table 1 above and the line graphs generated by Compete, all of the social networking sites have seen increased traffic from unique visitors. Delicious had less in May and June than April but in July, there were considerably more visitors than the previous months. Although this comparison has been made over a relatively short time frame, it highlights the ever increasing growth in traffic that social networking sites have been obtaining for some time. You can see from this article from January 2008, that the growth of these web sites is somewhat of a phenomenon.
The social networking sites being discussed here have enjoyed growth, but not all social networking sites have grown. MySpace has seen its market share decline in recent years, though it seems to now have more of a niche market in the music industry then for the general user. This BBC article shows a few other sites that are experiencing a decline in market share; it also shows some interesting data about the use of social networks in different countries.
In spite of some sites experiencing a decline in popularity, social networking web sites are still experiencing a growth in the number of visitors. People are using these sites more and more, and the availability of the sites is increasing. According to Comscore there has been a large increase in access to social networks in the previous year (U.S), with Facebook via a mobile device growing by 112% and Twitter at a 347% growth. With this kind of access, it is convenient for users to access their social networks anywhere and anytime, while the growth in the use of these kinds of devices continues, so with it will be the growth in the use of social networking web sites.
- readwriteweb.com – Who is using social networks and what are they like
- Nielsenwire – Social media sites up 82% over the year
- www.web2fordev.net – The Next Billion – The Rise of Social Network Sites in Developing Countries