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Facebook, the fourth largest Web property in the US, attracted some 157.2 million visitors in May 2011, an all-time high and a gain of 3.2 million visitors over the previous month, according to data from comScore Media Metrix. 

MySpace, meanwhile, continued to lose audience share during the month, to 34.8 million unique visitors. Although the site still holds the No. 2 spot among social networking sites, MySpace audiences have fallen nearly 50% from May-2010 levels, while average user engagement has dropped 85%.

Once synonymous with leading-edge music and pop culture, MySpace reached its peak in December 2008, attracting 75.9 million monthly unique visitors in the US.

Beginning in early 2009, however, the site began to hemorrhage roughly one million users per month, and has since declined to early-2006 audience levels.

Below, a historical timeline of the growth of MySpace and Facebook using comScore data, compiled by Business Week for its cover story, titled "The Rise and Inglorious Fall of MySpace," June 22, 2011:

Facebook's Future Growth

But even Facebook, which now reaches roughly 73% of the total US Internet population, is not likely to grow indefinitely, writes comScore in its blog post: "The law of large numbers says that once a site has penetrated the majority of a market, each incremental user becomes that much more difficult to attract."

Instead, Facebook's future US-based growth is more likely to come via increased use (engagement) per visitor rather than via new user accounts—a trend already apparent: On average, visitor engagement has grown from 4.6 hours to 6.3 hours per month in the previous year.

Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr Hit New Highs

Several other players in the social networking category reached all-time US audience highs in May:

  • LinkedIn attracted 33.4 million visitors in May. The business social site has reached all-time US audience highs in 7 of the previous 12 months and has grown 58% over the past year.
  • Twitter attracted 27.0 million visitors, up 13% from May 2010. Twitter's success in May is due in part to the buzz surrounding Osama Bin Laden's death, as well as ongoing discussion of the Royal Wedding, notes comScore.
  • Tumbler reached 10.7 million visitors in May—its first month surpassing the 10-million-visitor mark—and up 166% from one year earlier.

Looking for real, hard data that can help you match social media tools and tactics to your marketing goals? The State of Social Media Marketing, a 240-page original research report from MarketingProfs, gives you the inside scoop on how 5,140 marketing pros are using social media to create winning campaigns, measure ROI, and reach audiences in new and exciting ways.

Social Networking Category, Four-Year Trend

Social networking now accounts for one out of every six minutes spent online in the US, compared with 2007 when social networking sites occupied just one out of every twelve minutes spent online.

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