Facebook’s share of the UK online usage has fallen by more than seven percentage points in the last year- raising concerns that it may have hit saturation point.The social network – which is expected to make an initial public offering (IPO) this year – still attracted significantly more online time than its nearest competitor, accounting for 52.6pc of all visits to social networks in December.
However, Facebook has lost substantial ground since the previous December, when it took a 58.5pc share of the UK’s social networking market, according to data from Experian Hitwise.
It slipped 1.3 percentage points last month alone.
The decline has raised concerns that Facebook is running out of steam in the markets where it is best established, whilst its competitors gain ground.
“Facebook’s growth is levelling out,” said James Murray, market research analyst at Experian. “Because Facebook had such a clear lead, it was always going to be difficult for Facebook to maintain [its position]. It has probably reached near enough its maximum growth.”
The figures will come as a blow to the company, which has been investing heavily in extending its reach and enticing users to click on its adverts, ahead of its long-awaited IPO. Facebook is expected to float with a possible valuation of £65 billion ($100 billion)- the biggest technology IPO ever.
By contrast, YouTube, the user-generated video site owned by Google, grew its traffic by 45pc last year.
It accounted for just over a quarter of all UK visits to social networks in December, putting it 7.4 percentage points ahead of the previous year.
“We’re expecting video to be even more influential as a marketing channel, and marketers will have to adapt their strategies to incorporate a multi-channel approach in order to secure customers both on and offline,” said Mr Murray.
Twitter and Yahoo! Answers also made gains, but remained tiny by comparison, with 3pc and 2pc of all visits to social networks respectively.
Google’s social network, Google +, did not register in the top 10 most visited social networks at all.
However, Google grew its share of search engine usage market in the UK, edging up from a 91.3pc share of the market to 91.8pc.
Microsoft, its nearest competitor, was a minnow by comparison. Its suite of sites accountted for 3.6pc of all search engine visits in the UK in December, whilst Yahoo!’s popularity for searches fell nearly a percentage point to 2.5pc.