An interesting and highly anticipated phenomenon occurred in December 2008, one that received very little fanfare.
December was a particularly busy month for Mark Zuckerberg’s high profile social network. According to Web metrics firm Hitwise, Facebook’s share of US Internet traffic hit an all time high on Christmas Eve 2008, earning 2.18% of all US Internet visits.
Perhaps more significant, the traffic volume between Myspace and Facebook intersected at the end of 2008 with Facebook surpassing MySpace according to my analysis of several traffic charts.
Was the surge in December activity, particularly Christmas Eve, a fluke or is it representative of a true shift in market share leadership?
2008 was an interesting year for both social networks. Facebook spent the first quarter of the year rolling with the swells of up and down traffic, sparking debates as to whether or not the company actually hit a plateau. MySpace, on the other hand, leveled-off and actually realized a dip in traffic from August to November.
Many experts and alpha users were also crying out with claims of social network fatigue with the onslaught of new networks as well as growing demand for participation in micro communities such as Twitter and FriendFeed.
Either way, Facebook will continue to escalate in 2009, especially with the proliferation of Facebook Connect.
UPDATE: According to Comscore, Facebook’s year-end jump in traffic may only be a preview of what’s to come. Comscore reports that MySpace still holds a notable lead as well as increased engagement time over facebook.
Here are the numbers according to Comscore’s 2008 report:
MySpace 76 million – 10% yearly growth
Facebook 55 million – 57% year growth
Classmates 16.6 million – 66% yearly growth
LinkedIn 2.9 million – 115% yearly growth
Bebo 4.9 million
Ning 3.9 million – 388% yearly growth