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eMarketer estimates that by the end of 2013, 163.5 million people in the US—more than two-thirds of internet users—will be social network users. US social network penetration is high, and user growth is expected to plateau beginning this year.
The sheer size of the US social network audience, the majority of which Facebook users make up, is driving the deceleration of its growth. eMarketer does not expect Facebook's user base to increase much more than it already has. Between 2012 and 2017, growth in US Facebook users will decline from 7.1% to 2.1%. Twitter will have much faster growth than Facebook, but, the audience size will be much smaller.
eMarketer increased its estimates of the number of US mobile phone social network users and mobile phone Facebook users from its previous forecast to reflect the faster-than-expected adoption of smartphones. This year, mobile phone social network users and mobile phone Facebook users are projected to increase 18% and 21.8%, respectively. As in previous years, the uptake in smartphones will continue to drive the growth of the overall US mobile phone social network, Facebook and Twitter audiences.
In 2012, 50.1% of the US population used a social networking site at least once per month. eMarketer expects this percentage to climb to 56.3% by 2017. Social network user penetration, like overall internet usage, is very high across the US and has moved past the stage of meteoric growth.
eMarketer forecasts that 163.5 million people in the US—67.2% of all internet users—will visit a social network site at least once per month in 2013. Audience gains will come in at 4% this year. Growth will slow modestly throughout the forecast period, driven primarily by the younger and older age groups. US social network audience gains are now mirroring the overall growth of US internet users.
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