The growth of social networks [infographic]

Growth of social networks over the last decadeFor many, using the Internet means being on a social network, and with the rise of web connected smartphones we have never been more able to share our daily goings on. Accordingly ,the growth in social network users has been substantial over the last decade.

It goes without saying that Facebook and Twitter are the big hitters with one billion and 500 million users respectivley, but research produced by the Silverpop agency shows that it is important for social networks to have a steady growth in the first six years of their lifespan to maintain their relevance, and growth in the first three years is absolutely critical. LinkedIn  for example is the only social network with 100m users never to have tripled its size year-on-year, but they were still able  to achieve growth in the pivotal third and fourth year, making them one of the top six social networks.

The analysis shows that nine of the eleven key social networks grew in each of their first three years, and five of those social networks continued to grow for the next three years. These networks become more and more valuable to their users as the user base increases, so continued and steady growth is absolutely essential. The best example of this critical growth is Twitter, who got eight times bigger in years three  to four. This is bigger than Facebook which got six times bigger, and Tumblr, which got four times bigger, as well as the aforementioned LinkedIn.

As we have become more accustomed to sharing our lives online, new social networks have seen faster growth.  Geo-location network Foursquare effectively put its rival Gowalla out of business, and has doubled its user based in the last year. Furthermore, (Facebook owned) Instgram has seen its userbase increase five times over in years one to two, while Pinterest took under three years to reach 25 million users, and Path grew tenfold in years one to two. Sometimes derided Google+ was able to soar to 400 million users due to the amount of people with Google accounts.

Overall then the social web is looking very healthy, particularly for visual based networks, but do any of these sites have the real ability to last in the long term. It will be fascinating to see what that first bar chart looks like in another decade.