Social Networking Stats: Is Facebook Engagement Up or Down? #RLTM Scoreboard

The #RLTM Scoreboard:  Social Networking Stats for the Week

Facebook: 901 million monthly active users via Facebook
Twitter: over 500 million users via Twopcharts
Qzone: 576 million active users via TechCrunch
Sina Weibo: over 300 million users via Bloomberg Businessweek
Renren: over 170 million users via iResearch iUser Tracker
LinkedIn: 160 million members via LinkedIn
Google Plus: 170 million “people who have upgraded” via Google
Tumblr: 59 million blogs via Tumblr
Instagram: 50 million users via CNET
Tagged: 20 million unique monthly users via Tagged
Foursquare: over 20 million users via Foursquare
Pinterest: over 11 million registered users via Search Engine Land
Posterous: 3.9 million members via SF Gate

Please email if you have additional updates, or a social network that you feel should be on the list.

Is Facebook Engagement Up or Down? Depends On Who You Ask.

Is Facebook Engagement Up or Down? Are Facebook Ads Effective?One-third of Facebook users are spending less time on the website than six months ago, according to a new poll from Reuters/Ipsos.  But comScore – based on data to be published next week – claims that “time spent per user is actually up a few percent in that period.”  The two sources also have different statistics regarding the effectiveness of Facebook ads.  Who’s right?

Reuters found that 34% of Facebook users were spending less time on the site than six months ago, and only 20% were spending more time on the site. Of those spending less time on the social network, their chief reason was that the site was “boring,” “not relevant” or “not useful”. Privacy concerns ranked third.

But comScore’s press release (findings will be published next week) claims that consumers can’t be trusted to recall their own use of the social network, stating that “This inability to accurately recall past behavior” is “evident in another survey response where a higher percentage of Facebook users say they are spending less time on the site today vs. six months ago” (referring to the Reuters survey.)

As mentioned above, comScore’s behavioral measurement of engagement – where time spent on sites is electronically and passively observed, and not dependent on consumer memory – indicates that time spent per user has risen (slightly) within that period.

The Reuters poll also asked Facebook users whether they’d bought a product or service as a result of advertising or comments on the social network.  A whopping 80% said they hadn’t.  Only 20% (one in five) users surveyed had made a purchase based on friends’ comments or advertising on Facebook.

Again, comScore faults the Reuter’s data for relying on consumer-reported accuracy, stating that “people tend not to provide very accurate assessments of their own behavior” and that “people generally don’t like to believe that advertising actually has an effect on their behavior.” When the comScore report is released next week, it will be based on “meaningful measurement approaches, not on self-reported recollection.”

comScore’s general conclusion? “Facebook earned media is having a statistically significant positive lift on people’s purchasing of a brand.”  However, All Things D points out that “Facebook is a comScore client, and that the two companies worked together last summer to produce a study about the way brands use Facebook.” (Meaning: it would be rather akward for comScore to now declare that Facebook ads aren’t working.)

Facebook has already received some fairly negative press over the last few weeks, with General Motors declaring it will no longer use paid advertising on the social network, followed by a controversial IPO.  Will next week’s comScore data keep advertisers confident that Facebook ads are effective?

What do you think?