As if 2018 hasn’t been rocky enough for Facebook, the social network has seen a steep decline in monthly visits, putting it on the verge of ceding its position as the second most popular website in the U.S.
Facebook’s monthly visits have dropped from 8.5 billion to 4.7 billion in the last two years, according to a new study from SimilarWeb. YouTube, bolstered by the continued shift to streaming, has inched up to 4.5 monthly visits during that time, and is set to pass Facebook for the number two spot by Thanksgiving. And Google — which also owns YouTube — is lapping the competition, with more than 15 billion visits each month.
If you’re tracking at home, it looks like yet another headache for CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a year full of them. As a quick reminder: Facebook spent months dealing with the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica data leak, where 87 million users had their information unwittingly accessed by the political firm; uninspiring Q2 revenue sent it’s share price spiraling downward last month, setting a Wall Street record for the biggest single-day drop in market cap. User growth is flat in the U.S. and weak abroad (of course, that’s to be expected with 2.23 billion monthly users now in its fold); And just this week, the company dealt with the media circus that comes with booting digital shock jock Alex Jones from its platform.
But if it sounds like Facebook is headed towards becoming Myspace 2.0, don’t get it twisted. The social network is still strong, despite its drop in monthly visits, as its buoyed by its array of popular apps like Instagram and WhatsApp.
“Yes, visits to the ‘flagship’ website in the U.S. are down, but their entire network continues to grow,” said SimilarWeb researcher Stephen Kraus. “Their app usage is large and increasing, and they increasingly find growth from other parts of their portfolio, such as Instagram and Messenger.”
Instagram’s rise has been especially striking. The go-to photo app now boasts 1 billion active users, and 400 million daily users for its Stories feature, which highlights pictures and video for only 24-hours. The app is now used 56 minutes a day on average by its Android users, compared to 27 minutes a year ago, according to SimilarWeb. That bodes well for its steady growth outside the U.S., where Android reigns supreme.
With the company valued at 100 times the price Facebook paid for it in 2012, Instagram looks to be the best $1 billion Zuckerberg could’ve ever spent.
So while the mothership isn’t as dominant as it once was, pouring dirt on Facebook’s grave looks to be premature anytime soon.