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Facebook – has it reached ‘saturation’ in the UK?

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So far, the story about Facebook has always been its fast growth. That’s part of what’s attracted many retailers to launch into social media, where they have the opportunity to talk to and respond to their customers via the social networking site.

Today, it the site remains very popular – but its rate of growth is slowing down in the UK, argues Robin Goad, head of research at Experian Hitwise in a recent blog.

He points out that in July 7.14% of all UK internet visits were to Facebook. More than half (54.48%) of all visits to a social networking website headed that way, while it also benefitted from 16.73% of all UK page views in July. That means one in every six internet pages viewed in the UK was a Facebook page. That’s a significant number of views.

But to date, Facebook has already attracted 26m British users – close to half of the population. So how much more room is there? Growth has already started to slow, says Goad, – and he asks if it could already be at saturation point. While, at 16.73% of all UK page views, Facebook does have very strong penetration of the market, could it be that it’s fast growth phase is now behind it.

Goad said: “Facebook’s market share of UK page views has trebled over the last five years but growth has slowed significantly over the last six months. Last month there was a slight decline in share, but this may well be down to seasonality – the back-to-school, college, university period is significant for Facebook.” He adds: “Clearly Facebook is not losing traffic in the UK, but do these stats point to a stabilisation? The rapid period of the site’s growth is now probably over in the UK, but does that mean Facebook has reached saturation point?”

Our view: It’s not hard to imagine that the biggest social media players may be close to seeing their markets at maturity – and these figures seem to bear that out. But what does all this mean for online retailers?

It seems clear that Facebook is a key place to talk to customers – with 26m UK people registered, and one in six of every UK internet page views dedicated to the site. The good news is there’s plenty of room for growth. That’s to say, while Facebook may not be growing as fast as it was, there’s still plenty of room for retailers to grow their own personal Facebook followings. And these figures seem to demonstrate that this certainly is a key place to communicate with customers.

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