But analysis of many sources suggests user numbers in mature markets are not falling
India, Brazil and Russia, along with the Middle East and Africa, are driving the biggest gains in Facebook’s worldwide user base. According to new estimates from eMarketer, Facebook will pass 1 billion active users worldwide in 2013 as the company sees particularly strong growth in its Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and Latin American user bases, with each region set to rise by about 30% or more this year. By next year, Facebook will reach 1.26 billion global users.
The new figures—which include eMarketer’s first-ever estimates for Facebook users in the Netherlands, Norway, Finland and Denmark—represent individual monthly active users who access Facebook via any device at least once per month. That’s different from Facebook’s reported figures, which includes all monthly active users (MAUs)—such as pets, brands and other types of accounts, along with individual users.
In the US, UK and Western Europe, growth will be much slower than in emerging markets. About half of the population in both the US and the UK will actively use Facebook this year. In Western Europe as a whole, penetration is somewhat lower, at 37% of the population in 2013. That will rise to 43% by 2017, as consumers in France, Italy and Germany remain marginally less enthusiastic about the social network.
eMarketer is relatively distinct in its methodology for evaluating Facebook usage, basing our estimates on an analysis of data sets from many third-party research sources, including survey and traffic data from research firms and regulatory agencies, historical trends, company-specific data, and demographic and socio-economic factors.
This allows eMarketer to consider the many discrepancies between research figures on Facebook, particularly their variance in methodology and definitions.
Despite some reports to the contrary, the collective body of research figures aggregated and analyzed by eMarketer suggests that Facebook’s user base is not declining in mature markets such as the US, though some users may be spending less time on Facebook and more time on Instagram—which Facebook owns, but many research firms track separately. Meanwhile, older adults in mature markets continue to increase usage of Facebook, eMarketer estimates.