Facebook User Growth Slows Rapidly In US, Worst Increases Since 2008

Facebook may be reaching ever closer to critical mass in the United States as user expansion for the social network has began to rapidly slow. In April the social network witnessed 158 million US unique visitors, only 5% higher than 2011 numbers. While 5% growth may not seem horrendous, it’s a drastically big decline from April 2011 when Facebook witnessed 24% growth and far worse than April 2010 when the social network had an 89% growth rate.

Facebook points out that users are now spending up to six hours per month on the social network, up by 16% during the same 2011 period, however that rate of increase is also slowing, jumping by only 23% from last year compared to 57% in 2010.

The news while not a great sign for Facebook was expected. Facebook already claims access to 71% of US Internet users and those users spend 2 hours longer on Facebook than they do on Google sites which includes YouTube.

On the other hand during its IPO Facebook specifically spoke about its double-digit growth rate and the company touted the fact that 56% of its 2011 ad revenue came from the United States. As the US slows in terms of user acquisition and “time on site” numbers there is the distinct possibility that Facebook revenues may also witness the same type of slow down.

Facebook is managing to grow its mobile base, a sector seen as extremely important. From December 2011 to the present day mobile users have grown from 425 million to 488 million. Facebook’s biggest problem now is figuring out how to make money off its mobile user base where ads do not earn as much and users tend to be more fickle with the time they spend online. Facebook recently announced a new mobile ad buying platform that the company hopes will turn the mobile side of its business into a cash cow.

With 901+ million active monthly users Facebook is by no means failing, however the company must find better ways to monetize its user base if it wants to move forward with a successful offering. In the meantime Facebook continues to expand in other countries and that growth could help determine the company’s future successes.