Facebook loses close to 1 million SA users

Social network giant Facebook has lost close to one million South Africa users over the past three months, according to data from social media monitoring firm, SocialBakers.

South Africa ranks 32 on SocialBaker’s list of countries with the most Facebook users at 5.537 million, and a penetration rate of  11.30%.

However, the social network has shed as many as 922,940 users over the past three months alone, a decline of 16.67%. This ranks the country fourth, behind Japan, South Korea and Nigeria, in percentage terms out of those countries listed in the top 50.

SocialBakers noted that while its data reflected a drop in monthly active users in SA, that did not mean that users had left Facebook altogether.

Over the past week alone, Facebook has lost 289,240 South African users, or 5.22%, but it should be noted that the Easter holiday period may have played a role in these numbers.

Facebook SA stats April 2013
Facebook SA stats April 2013

Michal Wronski, MD of information analysts, Fuseware, believes that Facebook has lost its novelty over time.

Wronski pointed to four underlying trends.

  • SA and global youth are shifting towards platforms that offer a simpler real-time interface, with Whatsapp and 2go leading the pack locally, alongside Twitter;

  • Facebook has lost its novelty over time – the early adopters are now moving on to new platforms that are more exciting and “exclusive”;

  • Facebook has made noticeable moves to inject brand and advertising content into news feeds, which has had strong negative feedback;

  • Facebook’s mobile experience on smart phones has had glitches and performance issues, and as more people use social media on their smart phones they are opting for apps with a better user experience.

However, Wronski stressed that Facebook is also innovating quite rapidly, especially with the release of its Facebook Home Android integration, which was announced on 4 April 2013.

“This makes it difficult to predict how the market will move in the future. However, as more people leave the network, its value decreases exponentially according to Metcalfe’s law, meaning the downward trend may actually accelerate,” Wronski said.

Top of the list for users, the United States saw 3.714 million users leave Facebook over the past three months, a loss of 2.25% to 163.07 million – but in second place, Brazil accrued 1.864 million users, to 66.55 million.

In third and fourth spot, India and Indonesia lost 1.128 million and 4.35 million users, respectively, while Japan, in 20th position, lost as much as 30.30% or 3.981 million users to 12.911 million, with a penetration rate of 10.14%.

In Africa, top ranked country, Egypt (19), gained 146,240 users or 1.17% to 13.01 million and a penetration rate of 16.17%; while Nigeria (35) shipped as many as 1.28 million users or 23.89% to 5.357 million.

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